1. PhraseBot uses such a convenient input method for sentences, not used by other apps. The 'boggle'-style grid with adjacent letters provides an input method with flow that can be used easily on mobile phone even with just one hand, for easy practice anywhere. One problem with sentence translation activities using typed response activities is that there is often more than one correct answer to a question. If all possible variations are not accounted for by the software, it will penalize variations that should be accepted. On the other hand, with PhraseBot, because the input is limited to adjacent letters, the user is guided towards producing the correct target sentence.
2. Phrasebot lets you answer in several two different ways with different difficulty levels. You can choose to show the full word on the tile for an easier option, or just show the first and last letters with dots showing the missing middle letters (e.g. 'l.....s') mode for more challenge.
3. PhraseBot provides productive (as opposed to receptive) practice with a convenient input method. A common activity used by many language applications for sentence practice is the 'scrambled sentence' - single words from the target sentence are shown, perhaps with a few added distractors, and the user has to tap them to form the sentence. The problem with this is that since the user can see the component words, they can simply recognize them rather than recalling them - a much simpler cognitive task. With the first/last letters mode, the user has to first actually recall the target component vocabulary in order to respond. Other modes can provide a lesser challenge before building up to the first/last letters mode.
4. PhraseBot lets you practice with your own data, imported from Quizlet. You don't have to rely on default data of a language app, that may not be the format, difficulty level or style that you want.
5. You can cue the answer in various ways. As the cue, you could use a translation, a cueing phrase in the native language (e.g a question 'How are you?', answer 'I'm fine') , or a picture. You can also use audio instead of the hint text, or audio of the target sentence for dictation practice.
As a university EFL teacher in Japan who often uses different kinds of technology in my classes, this will be a nice forum to share the stream of better resources I come across and activities/lessons I make. Of course there'll be Phrasebot Games updates and info, but a whole lot more too, with a focus on practical resources and workflows. They'll be good for teachers to do with EFL classes, but often also good as self-study resources. Here's a laundry list of upcoming posts:
- Google forms - for autograded quizzes, TOEIC test templates & translation tasks
- Quizlet Live (awesome new collaborative/competitive team game
- Using smartphones to provide short readings
- Apps4EFL (lots of different activities and resources here!)
- Using online games for semi-communicative practice (Samorost, Machinarium, Escape the Room)