Direct translations + word order transformations: a German example

Very often the direct translation of chunks within a SentenceBuilder into English can produce L1 English sentences that are far from ideal.

Here's a German example:

In this example the English translation for the sentence (e.g. I ate ice cream) has been split across the first SB row so that it matches the German, as we would expect. In fact, though, the sentences generated by the SB are, for example:

Ich habe Eis gegessen >> I ice cream ate
Du hast Fußball gespielt >> You football played
Sie hat eine Tour gemacht >> She a tour did

This is logical and inevitable if the language is entered into the SB in this way and the sentences are not transformed.

So how can we improve on this?

Some "creating a SentenceBuilders resource" walk-throughs...

Below you'll find a few "walk-through" videos in which I attempt to talk you through the process of converting a basic paper-based / column-based sentence builder into something that will work on, avoiding many of the pitfalls that are explained in detail in this blog post: "Creating [complex] interactive SentenceBuilder machines that work"

The video preview image for each video shows the finished SentenceBuilder. I've also included links to versions of the finished resources on the SentenceBuilders website (accessible by those who have a subscription).

French - Giving my name and age

The video:

The link to a similar finished resource:

French - School subjects, likes and dislikes

The video:

The link to a similar finished resource:

Spanish - Describing people - "ser" + adjectives (m/f/pl)

The video:

The link to a similar finished resource:

Hope you find this useful :)

Creating column-based resources that "work" on

Update - 23rd September 2021: this post is now, to all intents and purposes, null and void, since we've now added full authoring capabilities, allowing you to create complex SentenceBuilders. It's been left here, though, because it contains useful information about the need to give careful consideration to your SB content and ensuring that the sentences that it produces are accurate.

See this NEW blogpost: Creating [complex] interactive SentenceBuilder "machines" that work :) is primarily about teachers and students interacting with our SB Premium resources, featuring complex SentenceBuilder tables, and based largely -- but not exclusively -- on the content of the Sentence Builders books from the Language Gym team.

But the site also offers teachers the facility to create their own "column-based" resources. This blog post looks in detail at these column-based resources and makes some recommendations for creating column-based SentenceBuilder resources that work best on

Column-based SentenceBuilders

A column-based SentenceBuilder (see image above) can be used to generate 100s or even 1000s of random sentences which can form the basis of word-, chunk- and sentence-level interactive activities, which scaffold listening, reading and writing practice in multiple ways.

Your user-generated column-based SentenceBuilder resources can be used as the basis for assignments and competitions that you can set up for your classes, and they can provide you with all sorts of feedback about student progress and performance.

Your column-based SentenceBuilder resource can also be used front-of-class for all sorts of interactions including speaking practice.

So... how does a column-based resource differ from an SB Premium resource?