Color Coded English
& Grammar

The Word Map

Color Coded English

Color Coded English is a program for improving reading skills. It offers quizzes for mastering a core vocabulary and a visual guide for how English words are combined. When a parent registers a student or a teacher registers a class, the website records the results of the quizzes.

The primary obstable in reading is not knowing enough words for the text to be meaningful. Written English and Spoken English have many differences. Five to six year-olds know 2,500 to 5,000 words,depending on their reading skills and habits. Students who are regular readers typically learn 2,000 to 3,000 new words a year. Adults who regularly read know about four times as many words as those who rarely or never read.

The Color Cooded English 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. Common structural words like prepositions, conjunctions, and pronouns are listed in the grammar charts. The words are classified into four levels based on their frequency in the Corpus.

The simplest puzzle in the program is Listen & Locate Letters. Students click on a letter that matches the sound they hear. Each sequence of letters matches a word that will be pronounced after it has been correctly spelled. The Which Word puzzle is based on Minimal Pairs. After each audio file is played, students sharpen their phonics skills by choosing which word in the pair was spoken.

In the Sound Out phonics puzzles students try to determine how words are pronounced based on how they are spelled. They can listen to each word after clicking on it. Puzzles are based on vowels, dipthongs, consonant blends and digraphs. In addition to playing an mp3 file when a word is clicked, the puzzle also currently displays an IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) pronunciation guide for each word.

Reading is primarily about understanding the meanings of combinations of words. The program constains a series of quizzes, which are based on the lexical approach to language learning. Words which are combined much more often than others in common phrases are called collocations. Students' understanding of words is related to the ability to recognize these phrases. The collocations also come from The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA)

There are 4,320 words in the core vocabulary. The words are grouped into 24 topics. Each topic is organized by parts of speech and has 180 words. The words are categorzid into four levels based on their frequency of use. Every Quiz is based on 15 words in the same level and topic. Students can take as many quizzes in a day as they choose. The sequence of quizzes is based on the topic numbers. 23 quizzes must be completed before a topic repeats. It takes three quizzes to cover all the 45 words in each of the four levels of a topic.

It takes 288 quizzes to cover all the words in the topical dictionary. Students can easily complete each individual quiz in less than five minutes. If students take 24 quizzes every month, which is roughly six quizzes per week, they can finish all the quizzes in one year.

In addition to the quizzes, Color Coded English offers a team-based classroom game called Phrase Master. Games are based on the four frequency levels of words and three topics in The Word Map. Teachers can easily determine the level and topics of the 480 possible games.

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.

Students can prepare for games or quizzes. The game preparation pages also allow students to easily view words by frequency level in each topic. Clicking on a word plays its audio file and displays three of the most common phrases in which the word is used. Students can click on the phrases to hear them. They can use three icons to select what they want to view. 1. a translation (for ESL students), 2. a text search or 3. an image search of a phrase.

Many nouns in the Word Map refer to physical things, and verbs can also refer to physical actions. A Picture Words puzzle will eventually be added to use the flash card approach to learning these words

Most of the phrases for words have been grammatically color coded. Some words form more than one part of speech. The color code reveals the relationships between words. Sentences are often much longer in written English than in Spoken English. Color coding shows how the same relationships between individual words also connect longer phrases and dependent clauses.

In the Find the Phrases puzzle students will click on 16 words in a four by four grid to identify eight common phrases. The Solve the Sentence puzzle will be similar to the Daily Game at Someone Said. However, it will be simpler because students will not match the sentence with an author.

In the Part Smart grammar puzzles, students choose one of the 15 color styles before clicking on a word. Many of the sentences in the puzzles are memorable quotes by interesting people. Understanding the structures of complex sentences is often the key to fully understanding English compositions. Teachers can also use colored chalk to play a team-based version of Part Smart in the classroom.

Color Coded English lets students direct their own learning. They can explore as many phrases online as they want, and they can review the words they matched and missed in quizzes. They can view words by level or by topic. Students can search for words using English or their first language. The puzzles and quizzes are under construction and are currently FREE. A fee of $2.00 per year will be required for quizzes in the future.

If you can visualize a goal, you can achieve it. When you are competing in teams, 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
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