Color Coded English
Which word sounds different?







Part Smart

Color Coded English

Color Coded English is a game-based program for improving reading skills. Students can play color-coded games by themselves on web-enabled devices or in teams in a classroom. When a parent registers a student or a teacher registers a class, the website records the results of games. Students and teachers can also play games as guests without logging in.

The primary obstable in reading is not knowing enough words for the text to be meaningful. Color Cooded English helps students acquire a core vocabulary of the most common words. The core vocabulary is based on The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA). More than 4,000 of the most common words are arranged in a topical dictionary called The Word Map, and common structural words like prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns are listed in grammar charts. The words are classified into four levels based on their frequency in the Corpus.



The Sound and Found phonics game helps students determine how words are pronounced based on how they are spelled. The game words are grouped according to the four levels of frequency, but they don't include all the words in the core vocabulary. Individual games are based on vowels, dipthongs, consonant blends and digraphs. Students can choose the word level of a series of games, and the sequence will be random.

The game currently plays an mp3 file when any word is clicked and currently displays an IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) pronunciation guide for each word. (An option for viewing traditional American pronunciation guide will be added in the future.)



Reading is primarily about understanding the meanings of combinations of words. The Phrase Master vocabulary game uses the lexical approach, based on common phrases called collocations, to assess students' understanding of all the words the Word Map. Each Phrase Master game has 9 questions and five word choices for each question. There are 4,320 words in the core vocabulary. The words are grouped into 24 topics. Each topic is organized by parts of speech. Words are categorized into four levels according to their frequency. In each Phrase Master game, players see 45 word choices from one level and from three topics. Students must play 480 games to try to match all the words in the core vocabulary (480 x 9 = 4,320).

The sentences in the game are either random examples (for the level one words) or quotes. In the future, they will all be replaced with sentences taken from actual books. Students will be able to click on the sentences and see where they occur in a book which has been scanned by Google books. Currently students can click on phrases to see search results in which they occur and on sentences to translate them into Spanish and Chinese.

The application was originally designed so that registered students and their teachers could view their progress in matching the words in phrases and sentences.. Teachers can see which words are best and least understood by the class and by individual students.


There is a new game every day for each of the four levels of words. The "Prepare" button enables students to see the word choices for the next game. Clicking on a word will display three of the most common phrases in which the word is used by native speakers. Students can click on the phrases to hear and translate them. They can use three icons to select what they want to view. 1. a translation, 2. a text search or 3. an image search of a phrase.

Every day students can test their understanding of nine new words in four vocabulary levels. Phrase Master questions have a simple format based on tic-tac-toe and a multiple choice quiz. Each column in the nine-question grid contains three questions from the same topic.

All players must match one of 5 words with the blanks in 3 phrases. For example, the blanks in the three phrases "fresh _____ / _____ juice / _____ fly" can be matched with one of the following words: "chips, fruit, apple, banana, vegetable". Note that the word "vegetable" matches the first two phrases but not the last one.

Each player's device records the matches made and the time used after each question. Spending less than 20 seconds increases a player's score. Players must choose a word within 20 seconds or their choice is counted as incorrect. After a player makes a choice, the full phrases are displayed with the correct word.

The formula for players' scores is 5 points for each matched word in a phrase or sentence, plus 20 minus the average # of seconds, Players and Classes are ranked according to their individual and group scores.



Students learn words by combining them in useful grammatical structures. Color Coded English lets students direct their own learning. They can review the words they matched and missed in games. They can view words by level or by topic. Students can search for words using English or their first language.

If you can visualize a goal, you can achieve it. When you are competing amd cooperating, learning is more fun. The Phrase Master game is the perfect complement to any English as a Second Language course and a great way to introduce young students to the world of words and books.

Copyright 2021 © by Ted O'Brien
All rights reserved