I’ve been reading a lot about gamification in education, and the strongest argument I have seen so far is that it provides an opportunity for students to get comfortable with making mistakes in the classroom. In fact, the whole trial and error process is at the heart of play. Being a gamer myself, I have always wondered how to bring this fun sense of risk-taking into the writing class.
I Recently came across QuickandDirtyTips.com‘s release of Grammar Pop. It’s an iPad word game that encourages the player label words in a sentence with parts of speech. For example, a sentence like “Fly the plane” is shown in the centre of the screen and the player has to match each word with a part of speech on the right side. A successful match produces a subtle pop sound, makes the cloud that surrounds the target word disappear and a point value is shown. A mistake still produces the same pop but the cloud graphic remains and a minus score is shown for a fraction of a second.
The graphics and level of difficulty suggest that this game mainly targets L1 elementary school children. With 28 levels, 11 parts of speech and 14,000 words, this could easily be used with low level L2 learners of English. Although Japanese students are traditionally good at identifying the parts of speech of an English sentence (thanks in large part to the popularity of the grammar and translation approach to language study in high school), most of my students still struggle with producing their L1 parts of speech in English. Grammar is already tough enough as it is without having to review/relearn grammatical labels. I could easily see Grammar Pop as a fun warm-up where an iPad could be hooked up to an overhead and teams of students can have a go at the app. Think of the fun that could generate. If anything Grammar Pop could serve as a good ice-breaker in the early stages of a new class meeting each for the first time.
At the moment, this is only an iPad app (note: doesn’t work on iPad 1) but the developers say that they are working on making apps for the iPhone and Android OS.