Yesterday, I released a special online version of my GrammarGolf card game application. This is something I trialled and used extensively with younger learners as a classroom teacher, and based on the exciting levels of engagement and awareness it generated, I was looking forward to making a multi-media version for the English Raven site.
However, even as I am aware of the activity's strengths based on my own experiences, I also knew this was something of a risk; dare I feel happy about a teaching application that I know probably won't get that much uptake?
See, here's the thing... I got Mrs. Raven to try it out. Being an advanced learner herself (Certificate IV level in the local parlance), I wanted her impressions and feedback.
Surprise surprise: she didn't like it very much. And not really because, despite her advanced level, she got more than a few of the sentence options wrong!
"Why have more than one possible answer?"
"Why aren't the mistake options explained?"
"How am I supposed to understand why I got it wrong?"
Mrs. R has, in my opinion, voiced criticisms of GrammarGolf that I think will be shared by a very large number of learners.
I don't want to give too much away here, but this is NOT the way younger students generally react to the GrammarGolf application. And... that is precisely one of the reasons why I think it can be such an important learning tool.
Now, from a teaching perspective, I think there will be another serious objection. The sentences are not contextualised at all! Oh my goodness... there goes the neighbourhood. And absurdly enough, I am absolutely fine with this as well.
So here is my question to you:
Do you think GrammarGolf is a grammar teaching gaffe? Why or why not?
If not, why do you think I purposely avoid giving detailed explanations and emphasize the idea of 'have a swing, and if you miss, swing again!'? Why on earth would I think that sentences without communicative context could possibly be useful?
Is this Raven a teaching emperor with no clothes, or just a straight up moron???