This a contributed post by educator Nathan Hall.
Back in the summer of 2006, my wife and I moved to Lithuania for work. During that first summer, we decided to take part in an intensive Lithuanian language course at the university. Being still fairly new to the language, we did our best to keep up with all of the new words we were learning. We unpacked our printer and located the printable business card paper (for which we had paid a small fortune). We started printing up flashcards of all of vocabulary we were learning, but it didn't take long to notice we were going through loads of business cards and all of those new cards were beginning to stack up. Needless to say, we gave up on that method after a couple of weeks. It was just too expensive and too tricky to carry around.
Four years later, we moved back to Canada and I was starting a new position in a language school. I was discussing my experience of learning Lithuanian with a colleague, and she mentioned that she uses a free online flashcard tool called Quizlet.
Intrigued, I started to look into it and before you know it, I was using Quizlet in all my classes. Students loved it — and bulky, expensive paper flashcards became a relic of the past. Since then, I have discovered a number of effective ways to use Quizlet flashcard sets in my language classroom.
Five ways I use Quizlet to teach languages:
- Definitions: This is the most common way teachers use Quizlet. Simply take some of the words from a reading or something you have covered in class and put them together with a definition. If I am covering something from a book or handout, I may use those definitions. Students can study these sets with all of Quizlet's activities, but Flashcards is a great way to get started.
Example Quizlet set: Video Gamers
- Pronunciation: Quizlet offers a text to speech function that usually works pretty well. Sometimes, I will jot down some words I hear in class that are being pronounced improperly and I will make a Quizlet set and ask my students to listen to the pronunciation as homework. Students can also practice with the Spell activity on Quizlet.
Example Quizlet set: Pronunciation
- Collocations: Instead of using a definition of the word, I give three other words that normally go together with that word. To have this work well, you have to make sure there is only one clear answer. To review these sets, my students like to use Quizlet Live, a fun team-based game.
Example Quizlet set: Collocations
- Pictures: You can upload an image and then click on areas of the image to mark items in the image, creating an interactive diagram. This works really well with a scene like what you would find in an IKEA catalogue. Quizlet's Match activity is a fun way to review diagram sets like these.
Example Quizlet set: Living Room
- Sentence structure: Have a correctly written sentence in the term section, and mix up sections of the sentence in the definition section. I ask students to practice these sets with Quizlet's Write activity.
Example Quizlet set: Present Simple
I know some of you have used Quizlet in other ways, so feel free to share in the comments section below!
Nathan Hall is a faculty member at Douglas College in New Westminster, BC, Canada, where he teaches in the English for Academic Purposes program. He also is a teacher trainer in the TESL program and does workshops and presentations on pedagogically sound ways of using technology in the classroom. You can find more great ideas from Nathan on his blog, nathanhall.ca, and on Twitter at @nathanghall.