A look back at the 1st year of SentenceBuilders.com

16th April 2022 marks 1 year since SentenceBuilders was launched.

It's been a busy year!

Let's look back at how the site has developed in its first 12 months.

1. SB Premium Content

The original concept for the SentenceBuilders website was as a vehicle for providing interactive SentenceBuilders and interactive activities based on the SentenceBuilders from the best-selling Sentence Builders books from The Language Gym. (We only decided to add some rudimentary authoring functionality in the few weeks prior to launch!!)

So how has the SB Premium content developed in this 1st year?


At the time of launch the premium content on the site covered the following languages and levels:

        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 28 SB units, including paragraph activities

        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 27 SB units, including paragraph activities


One year on, this is where we're at with the content from The Language Gym books:

        •  Primary - 9 SB units, including paragraph activities
        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 28 SB units, including paragraph activities
        •  Lower intermediate - 18 SB units, including paragraph activities
        •  Intermediate (GCSE) - 19 SB units, including paragraph activities

        •  Primary - 9 SB units, including paragraph activities
        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 27 SB units, including paragraph activities
        •  Lower intermediate - 19 SB units, including paragraph activities
        •  Intermediate (GCSE) - 19 SB units, including paragraph activities

        •  Primary - 9 SB units
        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 33 SB units
        •  Lower intermediate - 21 SB units
        •  Intermediate (GCSE) - 19 SB units

        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 33 SB units

        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 33 SB units

        •  Beginner to Pre-intermediate - 39 SB units

In March 2022 we also took our first steps into providing premium content for students whose L1 is not English, with the launch of a version of the German Beginner to Pre-intermediate section aimed at Dutch speakers.

And of course there's all sorts of other new content too, especially for French and Spanish, in the "Other" resource folder.

2. Authoring / User-generated content

As mentioned above, in the beginning, user-generated content was very much not the priority. We added some basic functionality just prior to launch, allowing users to create simple "column-based", single-row SentenceBuilders, where all content combinations had to be viable. i.e. a much more limited tool than is on offer now.

BUT it still generated a real buzz, and 1000s of resources were created by our community of teachers, each resource generating a full range of interactive activities based on vocab chunks and sentences automatically generated by their SentenceBuilders.

Five months in, in September 2021, we unleashed a whole new set of powerful authoring tools, giving our teachers access to the tools that we ourselves were using to create our premium content.

This meant that our teachers could now...

  • create SBs with multiple rows and columns
  • define viable routes through their SBs
  • add cell-based exclusions (excluding cell combinations)
  • add word-based exclusions (excluding word combinations)
  • add transformations (transform "raw" chunks and sentences)
  • exclude certain words from gap-fill activities
  • define their own vocab chunks (combining SB cells to do so)
  • add transformations to the text-to-speech outputs
  • define content layout for each cell of their SBs
  • add pinyin / phonetics / notes to the SBs

And 1 month later, in October 2021, we upgraded these tools further to give teachers lots more functionality in terms of creating their SBs, with...

  • undo / redo buttons
  • drag and drop for moving content between cells
  • new options for adding and removing rows and columns

So authoring has gone from something of a secondary consideration at launch, to a powerful and central part of what the site has to offer to teachers.

See our user guide on "Creating [complex] interactive SentenceBuilder machines that work".

3. Other features, by date added

In addition to those huge leaps forward in terms of content and authoring capabilities, we've also added lots of other features since launch in April 2021.

  • Express assignments (Aug '21): those familiar with how assignments work on SB will know that there is a wide range of pre-defined assignments that teachers can use with their classes, as well as the ability for teachers to build their own assignments based on any of the activities available. Those pre-defined assignments typically take 30 minutes or so for students to complete. So we added this new Express option covering the same range of activities, but with fewer questions generally, and typically taking 50-60% of the time required to complete the full versions.

  • Printable SentenceBuilders (Sep '21): up until this point teachers were able to print SBs from the site by doing a screen grab or similar. This new feature gave them much more control over this process with a whole set of formatting tools.

  • Multiple assignment attempts (Oct '21): we made it possible for students to have up to 3 attempts at an assignment. And we gave teachers the tools to deal with the data for multiple attempts, allowing them to view all attempts, average scores, or simply the best.

  • Assignment preview (Oct '21): we added a way for teachers to preview any assignment, skipping between the activities etc, in order to get a feel for what their assignment would look and feel like for students.

  • Exporting random chunks / sentences (Dec '21): we added tools allowing teachers to export / copy lists of randomly selected vocab chunks or sentences taken from the SB resources, for use either in their own worksheets or to re-use the exported data in other online tools (such as Textivate!)
    Read more about this on the blog.

  • Worksheet printing (Dec '21): a super simple worksheet printing tool allowing teachers to generate printable activities in up to 3 sections (i.e. 3 separate activity types), with 12 activity formats to choose from.
    Read more about this on the blog.

  • Sample resources (Jan '22): new functionality added to our home page so that non-subscribers could try out some of our content without having to contact us to ask for a trial. (We also added a "trial" option to our contact form though, to make it easier for teachers to request a 7 day trial with access to the full platform).

  • Copy premium resources (Feb '22): it had always been possible for teachers to make copies of "community" resources, but in February 22 we finally made it possible for them to make their own copies of our SB Premium resources, so that they could edit them to suit their own schemes of work etc.

  • Visual resource paths (Feb '22): we added a new tool to make it easier for teachers to see where they are saving their resources, by navigating through their existing folders.

  • Premium resource links (Mar '22): teachers can now add a link to any premium resource into their own resource folders. This is a great way of bookmarking resources / adding them to your own folder structure without having to make a copy of the resources themselves.

  • Competition tools for teachers (Mar '22): we added the same functionality to competitions that has been there from the beginning for assignments. Teachers can now copy a competition to the same class, to their other classes, or add a competition link to a Google Classroom.

  • Team competitions (Mar '22): teachers now have a cool set of tools for setting up teams for use with team competitions, or they also have the option to allow teams to build randomly. Team competitions show team totals to students, but teachers also get to see each student's contribution to the overall scores.
    Read more about this on the blog.

So, as I said... a busy year!

Thank you!

Thank you to the team at The Language Gym, Textivate and TeachVid for all their hard work over the last year.

Thank you to those people who have collaborated on creating the SB Premium SentenceBuilders and paragraphs for the site.

Thank you to those who have created video guides or reviews of SentenceBuilders.
(Dawn | Jérôme (1) | Jérôme (2) | Julia | Martin)

Thank you also to those beta testers who have been such an invaluable source of feedback. It has really helped us to improve the site.

Thank you also to all those who have contributed to the SentenceBuilders.com Community Facebook group, and to our community resources on the site!

And of course, thank you to all the teachers who have trusted us to provide for them and their students over this past year. We hope that you will continue to have faith in us :)

Looking ahead...

With new SentenceBuilders books from the Language Gym in the pipeline - along with other ideas for premium content for the site - and plenty of items still on the to-do list, you can expect the site to continue to grow in terms of content and features.

So here's to year 2 and beyond :)