Sentence Builder

A new feature will be added to past and future lessons over the next little while.  It will help you gain practice constructing sentences by getting you to put words into the right order.  The feature supports all four modes – Pinyin, Simplified, Traditional and English so find the mode that best suits you and see what you can make of it.

You can see a sample of what it looks like in the Vocabulary section of lesson 121 here.  If you have any suggestions on how to improve this feature, or other features that you think will help in the learning process, please let me know.

No Responses to “Sentence Builder”

  1. I agree that’s quite cool and useful. This course just keeps getting better and better!

    It would be great if you could turn the roll-over translations on and off dynamically (without having to reload the whole page, ideally). I keep feeling that this is making it a bit too easy for me to perform this task, they acted as a short cut. I realise that this task is more about character order than about the meaning of the individual characters, but it might be good to be reinforcing the meanings at the same time? I hope that makes sense!

  2. Anonymous

    Lesson 122 has a really good exercise. I first phrased the sentence in the literal English order before realizing that it had to be turned around. So the exercise is definitely very helpful for getting some hands-on experience with formulating a sentence in the correct word order, though the principle behind this sentence structure remains a mystery to me.

  3. Edward: I have removed the roll over translations from this feature to add more value to it. Users can still find out the meanings by switching between the alternate modes. Thanks for the feedback!

    Luobot: Glad you find value in it. Over the next few weeks we will be adding similar practice examples to the Vocabulary section of other lessons in level 3 (and later on to earlier levels). I see that there is a real need for more grammar and behind the scenes explanation of some of the language structure. Once these sentence exercises are added, I’ll look into what else can be added, whether in the form of notes or other tools to fill this void.

    Keep the feedback coming!

  4. Anonymous

    This is a great feature as it is, but I would like to suggest a few things that may make it better.

    1. It would be good to access the word building tests from a single page without having to go to each lesson individually.

    2. Colour can really help in pattern recognition. If it is possible, it would help if certain types of words such as nouns, verbs and adjectives were a different colour. For example nouns could be blue, verbs red and adjectives green. What this would enable a person to do is to quickly recognise the pattern and be more aware of where each type of word appears in a sentence structure.

    3. I think that it is important that when using the feature in pinyin, simplified and traditional characters that the sentence you are required to contruct is given in English. This will remove any possible ambiguities. In the example with the country names, the sentence structure would still be valid regardless of what order the countries were placed. The correct answer for the sentence requires you to put the counties in a specific order but does not tell you which order the countries should be placed. Numbers can also cause ambiguities, so it has to be clear which number is requested.

    4. The difficulty level can be increased by asking the student to create a sentence from a larger selection of characters. Not all the characters in the selection will be required for the sentence, so the student has to think harder about what they are doing.

    5. For an even harder test, the student could listen to a sentence and then he/she will have to construct the sentence for the list of available characters.

  5. Anonymous

    Adam – Additional grammar and behind the scenes explanation of the language structure would be of tremendous benefit to me.

    Tom – Some good ideas, but not sure about a few (and I may have misunderstood your meaning).

    In #1, if you mean having all the exercises on one huge page, then that might be a bit much. If you mean having a page of links to the exercises (as in the course outline) then that would be helpful.

    On #3, I agree with you that you need to have the English for the sentence you are constructing; otherwise, you can’t be sure what you’re aiming for.

    #4 is something I would also like to vote for.

    #5 Doesn’t seem helpful for developing sentence structure skills, as the audio would give away the sentence structure, which is the purpose of the exercise, but it’s ok for character recognition in character mode. Not useful for pinyin mode unless you just want to hear the answer, in which case, having an audio “answer” button/player would serve the same purpose.

  6. Hi Tom,

    Thanks for some great suggestions.

    #1: Once I have several pages worth of these exercises, I’ll look and see if it’s feasible to get them all on one page.
    #2: Interesting suggestion. The problem is that most verbs in Chinese can function as verbs and adjectives. Also the color coding might confuse users when it comes to displaying which words were placed wrong. I’ll look into it though.
    #3: The English answers are now included (they were accidentally removed for a day or so, which is probably when you looked at it).
    #4: Once I have many exercises created in the current form, I’ll look into what other options I can add.
    #5: I could have an audio playback, but due to the design of this feature it would be playing the elements separately as opposed to the joint sentence at the end so I’m not sure how good that will sound.

    Please continue to provide me with suggestions like this for this or other features, since they are very valuable to me. Even if I can’t implement all your suggestions right away, they help guide the future direction.

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