Word Dominoes

Birmingham language expert Dr Crayton Walker has created a smart phone game to help learners of English avoid using word combinations that may sound a little odd to a native speaker.

Collocations are pairs of words that are not necessarily grammatically incorrect, but are not commonly used in language; examples include ‘powerful tea’ instead of ‘strong tea’ and ‘big snow’ instead of ‘heavy snow’.

Crayton devised the game taking his inspiration from dominoes. The aim is to create a chain of hexagonal tiles showing correct combinations of words chosen from a famous database of language called the Bank of English, which was created at the University.

‘As native speakers we’re constantly exposed to collocations but when foreign students are studying English in their own countries they can be very difficult to pick up,’ he says.

Crayton’s original board game has now been transformed into a smart phone app by experts in the School of Computer Science and he is looking for an educational publisher or software company to help develop it for the education market. 

His vision is for the game to be expanded into a suite of materials for interactive white-boards, smart-phones and 3D touch tables appropriate for teaching everyone from primary school pupils to business people studying a foreign language.

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