Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Word Coach In 30 Days

For those of you who know me from New Gen Gamers or follow me on Twitter, you'll see I'm starting up a vlog of sorts on the Nintendo DS edutainment game "My Word Coach".

My Word Coach is a daily English training employing mini-games and definitions tracked through what they call your "Expression Potential" to improve your vocabulary.

I started the daily lessons yesterday. I'll use Emergency Trap to post my immediate reactions while playing and build on my overall experience.

Later I'll edit, and add a video to go along.

Initially the game started with some pleasant soft funky music while I immediately was thrown into a mini-game of fill in the missing letter and another one where I was given a word and had to choose between two different definitions, both while under a clock and followed by definitions that I could go over at my leisure.

My first impressions:
I immediately noticed myself picking up on shortcuts in choosing the right definition, to improve my score. You click either left or right to view that definition then you can pick it. I would sometimes guess at how it might try to order the definitions. If the first correct definition was on the right, I would choose right again, and upon viewing it realized it was right, I would then choose left on the third. I don't know if I was affecting my performance in a positive way or not. It's kind of like true/false tests where you start to get worried after you see that you've chosen 3 trues in a row, and you figure the odds are better the 4th will be false just because you want to believe that the teacher was trying to "mix things up".

I know, that's confusing. Basically you have to choose either left or right before being shown the definition. This takes time. Albeit only a second or two, but that adds up no? So if you're shown a word you do not know the definition to, then say choose right. After hitting right, it shows you a definition that you recognize right away to be for a different word than the one on the screen. You instantly know this is the wrong definiton which then you can click left and OK as fast as humanly possible thus insuring a good overall time, but also insuring that I did not even glance at the correct definition. Of course, I did review all the definitions at the end, as always, but I'm wondering if this is stupid, doesn't matter, or if there could have been much better mini-games that would actually need more of your participation and still be fun???

Regardless, if your picked yielded the correct definition, right away, isn't that saving you a bit of time? I mean so you've improved your score not by deciding intellectually but because you got lucky.

The fill in the letter mini-game was a bit more dependent on you actual knowledge of the word, although since I just started, it was fairly easy.

I'd also like to point out that I was impressed with the letter recognition. I was writing pretty slovenly at times at only a few times did it not realize what letter I wrote, but those times were understandable. Ony a couple times, so far, have I been fairly neat at writing say a "T" and it thought I meant "X", but there is an included tips that show you how to write the letters to insure better recognition. Not that it really needs it.

Both of these turn out to not count toward anything except to get you acquainted with My Word Coach, because after those you "unlock" your profile. You get to make a profile from which it tests your knowledge on words. It shows you a set of words and you just tell it if you know those words or not. Sure, you could just say yes, but then it will be drawing from those words and words it deems at that level when you play the mini-games, which will affect your score, so it really just pays to be honest.

I should back up a little here and mention that you get to pick your tutor from a few different avatars who will give you instruction, let you know about new games unlocked, etc...throughout your days of playing. I'm sorry but I had to choose the cute lady in the business suit and glasses. What guy wouldn't choose the "hot librarian" look?

After my initial assessment I ended with an Expression Potential of 25% "Honor Student". It's a bit vague of how this fits into real life, but I did find they mention a lawyer would be at about 60%(or was that 80%? I'll have to look it up again).

Before my first days lesson was complete, I had unlocked a harder version of split-decision, where you choose the correct definition.


My second day, I unlocked a alphabet soup type game where the letters float in the bowl mixed up and you need to drag them into the bottom slots in the correct order. The definition is on the top screen. Of course, another time limit. I also unlocked a tetris type game. This one you need to turn your DS vertically. A list of words will appear on the left, and the right will have blocks slowly dropping. Spell the words by tapping the correct lettered blocks in the correct order and hitting the green button. You instantly have an entire row of blocks fall if it's too slow for you, and you can even blow up some of the blocks, because if the stacks reach the line at the top-game over. I was actually given a time penalty after my first attempt. So hint to everyone-start hitting the arrow to make whole rows fall thus finishing the round faster.

I also learned a new word-because yes, I'm actually reviewing the definitions of those words after each mini-game:) Umlaut, although I've learned it before and had forgotten.

The third day I unlocked one more mini game where you get 4 scraps of paper each with a definition and the word cut out. the cut out words are at the bottom. Choose the right ones, and drag them to the empty places....yep, time limit. I also unlocked a harder level of the soup game. This has them slowly sinking. You can keep them afloat by blowing into the DS mic, or just pressing a button.

I also noticed, just as I was fulfilling my daily quota of words, that the instructor told me I had played one of the mini-games too much and that it would not continue to count toward my EP. But being already done, it didn't matter. But I'm sure it will be happening in the future and forcing you to mix things up when completing daily lessons.

The only thing I want to make note of on this 3rd day, is the appearance of previous words repeated within the days new words. This is a cool reinforcer, and they don't always give it to you in the same manner as before. Pheonix might show up in the fill-in-the-letter game with the x missing then later with the o missing. This made me crack a small smile because it made me feel I was "learning"

Most of my posts on the game won't be near this large as no doubt they'll be a lot of monotony popping up over the next 27 days.

Oh yeah, so far My EP has gone up 1% each day. I'm curious to see if this is standard, because they gauge each min-game on a number of points, with bonus or penalty points which would, do what? I'm assuming not add to your EP but add directly to that particular game in the result of that mini-game.

Here's more backtracking:P But, after the mini-game and totaling of points, it tells you how well you did. I've been getting "You communicate exceptionally" or "You communicate convincingly". I guess the points put you on a tier, but I don't know how many tiers there are there can't be that many exceptional, convincingly...I can't see more than say average, could be better, and lowsy.

See you guys tomorrow:)

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