This is a guest post by Chris Pye, a teacher at the British School of Guangzhou, China.
Quizlet is one of my favourite tools for teaching languages. Its multiple activities are great fun for students practising new vocabulary with either a computer or a mobile device. The new Quizlet Live feature lets you add some exciting group competitions to your lessons and provides great opportunities to assess what your students have and haven’t grasped fully. You can search pre-existing vocabulary sets for your courses or create new sets in minutes (replete with audio) and, although in the free version it lacks the spaced-repetition capability of other sites such as Memrise, you can set up your different classes and track student progress with ease. Moreover, with customisable difficulty levels for tasks like Test Mode, your students can self-manage the degree of challenge for each activity they complete.
In short, it’s intuitive to use, insanely functional and free. If you’re not already using it, you really should. Here a few examples of activities I use in my lessons to get students practising and using the language.
1) Immediate Practice or Review
Once you’ve introduced new vocabulary or structures, Quizlet is an ideal way for students to familiarise themselves with the language before progressing onto more challenging comprehension or productive tasks.
Quizlet’s activities allow students to practise new vocabulary and structures many times, in a variety of different ways, in a short burst of activity. So once new vocabulary is introduced, I often allow my students a few minutes “speed practice” to get to grips with the language they’re about to use.
When you can get so much bang for your buck, why would you bother again with the first vocabulary-matching exercise from your textbook’s two-page spread which only challenges pupils to get it right once?
And it doesn’t just apply to new vocabulary. You can create decks with multiple example sentences so students can familiarise themselves with new grammar structures before applying them in their speaking and writing. Sure, it takes a little while to get set up, but once it’s done you’ve got it forever.
Moreover Quizlet’s analytics allows you to see what students get wrong most frequently, so you can focus attention on misconceptions.
2) Group Deck Editing
So you’ve just reviewed a new grammar structure. You’ve gone through your explanations and you’ve done a few practice exercises from a textbook or a worksheet. Maybe you’ve even used a pre-existing deck on Quizlet to do some practice activities. What now?
Well, an engaging way to get students to apply their new learning is to get them to create their own sentences in a deck. To do this, I’ll create a deck and add it to the class page. I’ll set up a password which I share with the group and give my students a link to the deck in the lesson.
I then get them to write as many example sentences as possible in a given time period. They can do this individually or in pairs. Once the time limit is up, you can then review the deck as a class and get the students to spot and correct any mistakes.
I like this kind of activity as you can simultaneously assess students understanding of a concept whilst quickly generating a large number of practice sentences to which the students have a connection, which will be of greater benefit to them when they come to review.
3) Structured Conversation Practice
Are you ever frustrated by the limited speaking practice exercises available in your textbooks? Maybe not. Maybe you have more pressing issues, but with me… well it just burns me up inside! Anyway, we all know frequent structured practice is essential for students to master skills. If you want more such opportunities for students with which they can peer- or self-assess, then why not create practice Q&As using Quizlet flashcard decks?
You can set your deck to give students specific cues, which they can practise with their partner who in turn can check their accuracy by flipping the card for a model answer.
For me it’s worth the time setting up this type of activity so students have lots of practice examples with which they can check their accuracy.
There’s nothing stopping you doing this with more advanced groups, for example with practice conversation questions for your GCSE groups. Just create your deck of questions and you’re off to the races. Your students can randomise the question order or use Quizlet’s star card function to focus on problem questions. You could even specify particular you want learners to use in their responses.
In the deck above, I deliberately get learners to answer questions in different ways so they can practise a variety of structures in a controlled setting but simultaneously develop the habit of extending their responses.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of activities, but I hope that this post has given you some ideas for how to get more out of Quizlet. Thanks for reading.