About the game

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The Word Domino game has been developed by Dr Crayton Walker from the University of Birmingham. It is based on research which uses a very large electronic store of authentic English called a corpus. The corpus we have at the University is called the Bank of English and contains 500 million words. It is possible to use the corpus to find out which combinations of words are most frequently used by native speakers.

The most frequent combinations are not always the most obvious or logical ones. For example, although it is possible to say run into the kitchen, the research shows that native speakers of English tend to use run into more frequently in a figurative sense (e.g. run into a problem or run into difficulties). Data from the Bank of English also show how run into is more frequently used with words which describe negative items such as problems, difficulties and trouble.

Word Dominoes is designed to help learners of English as a foreign or second language to acquire these highly frequent combinations of words (sometimes called collocations) and therefore will only accept combinations which are frequently used by native speakers. Although a combination might seem to you to be perfectly acceptable, it may still be rejected because the research has shown it to be used less frequently than some of the others. In order to be successful, you will need to choose those combinations which you feel are the ones most frequently used by native speakers. In other words, the more you play the more natural your English will become.

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