Turn on Your Brain
What do all the examples have in common?
Is there one word used in all sentences? One word ending? A group of words? Sometimes it’s conveniently written on the envelope, or the card. Sometimes not.
Why is the pattern used?
Use the contextual clues in the examples to formulate theories about what message might be being conveyed through the pattern at hand.
Ok, so what the hell do we do now?
Use what you already know
If you know the word ‘count’ and you know the word ‘able’, it’s a pretty solid guess that ‘countable’ means ‘you can count it’. That’s using what you already know to make a logical guess about something you don’t.
All of the examples have something in common, clues that lead to the answer. Follow them. See where they lead.
Act it out. Sometimes a visual helps.
Think through all rational possibilities in the example situation. If an example sentence is ‘He is sitting by the river’, how many options are there, really? He’s either wet or he’s not. He can see the river or he can’t. If he can’t see the river, why talk about the river at all?
Sometimes more than one option makes sense. In that case, test each theory one at a time with the other examples.
Throw out theories, no matter how crazy they seem in your head
A theory is just an idea of what might be going on. As Edison famously said, “I haven’t failed, I’ve just found 999 ways that don’t work.” There is no such thing as a bad idea, it can help you find the path to the good idea. Ok, that theory’s wrong. Why is it wrong? Does that help you find the right? (It almost always can.)
Different people ‘see’ different things. Listening is as important as speaking. Everything everyone says is a new piece of information, and might be solid evidence that turns into a theory that could be correct. Or it could be totally wrong, but again, Edison.
No idea should be dismissed unless there’s a reason. “No, that’s not right” isn’t so helpful. “Wait, that doesn’t fit with sentence 3. He can’t possibly be in the water because the hat can’t be in the door” is. (Well, a hat can be in a door, but it’d be a pretty unusual situation and thus not likely to be an example sentence.)
If you can’t find any reason why it can’t be the answer, it may very well be the answer.
Does it work for all examples?
Sometimes a theory is good for some, but not all. That means it’s not a yes. No problem, take anything that could be useful and move on to the next theory.
If the idea is that ‘by’ means ‘next to’ on this card, substitute ‘next to’ in all the sentences to see if it fits. If it fits in all, that’s pretty solid evidence. (Or, occasionally, pretty solid logic that’s still totally wrong, but that almost never happens.)
(Take it a step further and see if that bears any relation to the other cards for the same word, or related to the same pattern. They must all be in the same envelope for a reason, right? This isn’t necessarily direct evidence, but it’s pretty strong indirect evidence, and if nothing else can help boost confidence in the idea.)
Decide you’ve got the answer
If you can’t find a flaw in the logic, if it stands up to every angle of questioning, you’ve probably found the answer.
No theory will be addressed by the guide unless presented with confidence ; )
Oh look, you’ve learned something. Rejoice and be merry.
(And make some example sentences to bring it into your own life, make the pattern yours.)
Still not sure how it will work?
Once you've learned something new, use it!
After each card, make some sentences. Three is usually a good number.
When you're done with all the cards in the envelope, put your new knowledge to use. There are games for many of the card sets. Or you can play any game you like, making sure to use the pattern. The important thing is to USE what you just learned.
Want to know why? Click Here
When you don't want to work on new patterns, there's still a lot you can do ::
Sometimes it's good just to refresh what you already know. Join a group already playing a game, or start one of your own. Some people come to Angol, na? just to practice what they learned before but are already forgetting, so you won't be alone.
Learn New words
Expand your vocabulary. The prefix and suffix cards in the white envelopes have examples you can use to figure out what happens when you add something to the beginning or end of a word. Or pick up the word list and use the example sentences to puzzle out the meanings.
When we read, we notice the patterns we already know, reinforcing them. We also notice new patterns, and find new and useful words. Our library has books for all levels, or we're happy to suggest books you might like to buy on your own.
Sitting around talking is perfectly fine too, as long as it's in English ; ) We don't have a coffee machine yet so we can't sell you anything; do feel free to bring beverages of your own.
- A Suggestion -
Bring a little book with you. Something you can carry in your pocket. When you figure out a pattern, write it down. Learn a new word, write it down. The writing helps you to remember. But you can also pull it out anytime you want to use your English, to keep the things you worked so hard to learn ; )