How is it possible that a native speaker selects correct sentence structures even in fairly complex cases, without recourse to grammar rules? One of the reasons for this is that about two-thirds of a fluent speaker’s speech accrues to ready sentence structures.
This means that learning and automating the use of such structures and patterns can greatly improve one’s fluency. The use of ready structures allows the speaker to bypass the analytical thinking part of speech.
This promotes native-like usage of English by students who are learning it as a second or a foreign language. Once the pattern has become second nature to the learner, the learner can use it to form sentences without thinking about the particular rules that need to be applied.
With the aim of improving sentence structure acquisition by students, PhraseCat builds upon several teaching concepts.
PhraseCat does not rely on situational learning in the traditional sense of talking about particular situations or topics. However, in terms of sentence structure, the approach is essentially contextual, if by context we mean particular collocations of parts of speech and the way they work together.
The learner does not need to comprehend and memorise large chunks of rules or understand how they relate to each other. This takes a lot of pressure off the learner and leaves him or her with more mental resources for acquiring the language in an unforced way as part of the particular context.
Since no particular topic is being studied, the students are free to use vocabulary that they already know. They can also use vocabulary that they would like to learn: if the phrase reminds them of a situation that happened in their lives, but they are lacking the necessary words, they can look them up in the dictionary and use them right away to complete the phrase.
This creates a connection between the grammar structure and the learner’s own experience or attitude, making the learning more emotional and engaging and facilitating memorisation. Gallup research shows that 87 per cent of teachers and 77 per cent of parents agree that teaching approaches that inspire creativity in the learning process have a bigger pay-off for students.
PhraseCat is designed to teach one grammar point at a time. It imitates the way, in which we organically acquire patterns in our native language: this is what I can say in the given situation, and this is how I say it – without any grammatical analysis involved, any mentioning of how not to say it or any need to understand how this particular rule fits into the overall grammar framework.
Learning a block of grammar rules→↓Doing a block of exercises→↓Confusion
One grammar rule→↓Use it in a sentence→↓Remember it
The way grammar is presented on PhraseCat also effectively blurs the line between inductive and deductive teaching. The learner is presented with the use case and the grammar point behind it at the same time, so he or she can choose what they want to start with. The teacher and the learner can choose between the inductive and the deductive approach in each particular case, depending on what works best for the learner.
How often we see people who learn English passively – by watching films or reading – who are unable to put together even a relatively simple English sentence.
Our duty as teachers of English is to foster the active use of new vocabulary and new grammatical structures by our students. PhraseCat ignites and supports the active attitude towards learning by forcing the learner to think and actually write, as opposed to tapping and drag-and-dropping. Active attitude towards learning inevitably leads to faster achievement of the learning goals.
PhraseCat allows students to actually collaborate on the phrase, which involves learning from one’s peers, reacting to or elaborating on their ideas, correcting their mistakes and being corrected by them.
Audio and video communication facilitates discussion and adds dynamics to interaction within the group.
Essentially, PhraseCat is a grammatical structure drilling tool that incorporates contextual learning, creativity, engagement, decomposition, active learning and group learning elements – a fun way to walk the difficult path to fluency!
Now that you know everything about PhraseCat, it’s time to practise!