An introduction of the tip™ GAME: time it perfect!

Learning and Fun go together

In the groups of 2-5, the tip™ learning GAME has been played for 2 hours or more by 470 people as on Nov. 2014. The players or learners are in the age-group of ‘14-47’ years with most learners in the age group of 20-30 (over 300). The median age is 26; over 200 learners are engineering graduates. The learners enrolled for Conversation in English program had some understanding English but were not able to form their sentences correctly while writing or took a lot of time before speaking in broken sentences. Most of them were from Hindi-medium back-ground and not very confident speakers. They were very well primed on the game with some grammar lessons where they understood parts-of-speech and the visual tense chart by Dr. Eli Hinkel was shown as well as explained to them. The trainers also used a slightly different tense-chart on the white-board and a professionally designed poster on 9 key tenses. The focus remained composition and usage instead of mere memorization of the grammar rules (even the tense chart was not given to them). Some quantifiable outcomes have been captured in the feedback forms (L1[i]), pre/post assessments (L2[ii]):

↗      Learning and understanding of Tenses becomes easier for almost everyone (close to 100% -as per learner’s feedback).

↗      Increased motivation and engagement in over 98% cases (checked before/after the game-session that lasted 30-45 min. the extensions to continue to play the game asked by the participants)

↗      Moderate competitive element enhanced effective learning as it kept learners interested in listening before speaking in all cases (~100%).

↗      Helped the learners to understand, learn, remember and apply grammar rules 2x better than the repetitive drilling practice and 3x better than translation sheets. (perception recorded at L1 level)

The qualitative advantages that we got -in over 85% of the cases- are listed herewith, in no particular order; some have been ticked by the 5 trainers/teachers who used this game in their classes:

↗     tip™ Game leads people to do spontaneous practice right after the theoretical overview -in the same session. (Monika, trainer is MA in English)

↗      Consolidation of grammar rules through the learner’s natural desire to apply what he already knows or mix and match the rules of grammar. (Manpreet, senior V&A trainer with British Telecom)

5 People playing Tense GAME and learning to Speak in English.

5 People playing Tense GAME and learning to Speak in English.

↗      Students who enjoy the challenge of participating in interactive games: tip™ makes them smarter and more confident as they hit the winning streak. (words picked/summarized from the feedback forms of some trainers observers)

↗      Among other abilities, the game helps develop students’ social capacities (81%), memory (86%), spontaneity (92%) and creativity (88%).

↗      Many usages of a particular verb form are understood and vocabulary of verbs is better applied in real-life situations. Over-usage of present continuous (a typical Indian-ism) is prevented to a very large extent. (Many students confirm this in their feedback)

↗      When offered at the same price point, the Game was preferred over a fully equipped Language Lab with computers and head-phones best in class and interactive content (Ms Ashima Rai – the center manager of T.r.i.c.k.s)

It is obvious that the use of games in a learning environment will not only change the dynamics of the class, but it will also rejuvenate students and help the brain to learn the rest of the material more effectively. Do we have the time and willingness to change for the better?

[i]  Level 1: Feedback is taken right after the training session or after every fifteen days within the training programs

[ii] Level 2: Is the difference between pre-post training and is captured through test of understanding
[iii] Most Commonly Used Verbs have been taken from varied sources and word-lists, the regular and irregular verbs are mixed-up well like veggies in a salad bowl.

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Milestone 1: Parts of Speech OR different types of words

What are Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives? …this is the first thing you Learn in my Grammar class and your Activity #1 To be able to identify ‘different types of words’ . This is before I ask you to start making even simple sentences.

Some of you may say, “I know them” as you start to speak out the crammed definitions from a grammar book. Learning by heart the definitions of these ‘Parts of Speech’ has not helped you to make sentences. Am I right? So, what you need is ‘to LEARN how to use them in a sentence and a quick identification when you add a new word -in your Active vocabulary’. 

Each type of word has different placement in a sentence like a noun/pronoun can take the Subject form while adjective will generally come before the noun etc. Your mind has learned to identify them for Hindi or your first language. You may or may not remember the definitions it does not matter but You need to train your Mind to use different types of words differently. You will LEARN to identify them and USE them rightly in my class!

In Activity #2: You need to recall from your memory in a given time-limit of (say) 5 minutes: 50-60 Nouns, 20-30 Adjectives and 20-30 Verbs. Sounds easy? Try it on your own.  

Learn to identify Types of words or Parts of Speech (or PoS):

To demonstrate the importance of PoS, let me use an example to explain ‘What are parts of speech’ and ‘How many do need to identify for quick formation of sentences’. Assume that in place of  teaching you ‘How to make a sentence’, I am explaining to you ‘How to make a cup of tea’. You need to know the ingredients before you even start, right? Similarly our mind needs to understand various ‘Types of words’  before it can start making sentences in any language. These types of words are Parts of Speech (or PoS) as they are called in a grammar books. You sure got it and also how vital is the understanding of PoS or in other words ‘Why do we need to start from the basics?’

‘Parts of Speech’ or different types of words viz. Nouns, Pronouns, Verbs, Adjectives etc. are the ingredients for making a sentence, they are like milk, water, tea-bag, sugar etc. for making ‘a cub of tea’  You have to know the ingredients pretty well and identify them clearly before you can make a sentence in the right sequence and quickly enough to speak it.  The demand for quick formation of a sentence is more when you want to be spontaneous with your response. You also need to know them for attending an Active Vocabulary session, as well. There we need to Learn the meaning of a ‘new word’, is it ‘a Noun’ or ‘a Verb’.  You want to speak ‘the new word’ in a sentence of your own. You cannot use ‘a verb’ in place of ‘a noun’ … could you?

Okay! How many Types of words do I need to Identify?

At first, to Speak English at the very BASIC level you only need to know 3 types of words: Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives and you need to know them along with the usage  – particularly Nouns -Count/Uncountable. Simple definitions of these three types of words are:

  • Nouns: naming words; the objects they name can be visible or not visible.
  • Verbs: doing words – they indicate some action or work; action again can be in  brain
  • Adjectives: are describing words, they describe the Nouns.

If it is a Noun, you have to identify it as Uncountable or Countable and within Countable there can be Singular or Plural; uncountable by definition can’t have singular/plural forms. Some Nouns can be used both as Countable and Uncountable. e.g. How many times have I told you to do it in time.

Parts of Speech builds or reinforces a solid foundation for understanding different structures of sentences and later the Tenses will become much easier to understand for a BASIC language learner of Spoken English. Point to Note: only Verbs and Helping-Verbs are changed with the tenses. 

Grammar milestone #1 for Spoken English BASIC class: To Know and identify the ‘Parts of Speech’ or Types of words particularly: Nouns (countable and uncountable), Verbs/Helping Verbs and Adjectives. Please give yourself 3-4 days and build some Active Vocabulary along with it. Do some Activities in the class and practice the usage in the Language L@b.

Grammar Challenge for Students of Intermediate/Advanced classes: If you understand and can identify and use all the ‘Parts of Speech’ 8 or 9 – depending on the grammar book you refer to; We offer attractive scholarships!