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Allison's Design Narrative

Cloud created by:

Allison Fink
23 March 2014

Title: Introducing Quizlet – a digital vocabulary game – into My EFL Course

Narrator: Allison Fink (The teacher and course designer)

Situation:  An EFL (English as a Foreign Language) compulsory college course for students from a range of backgrounds and cultures.  The common language is Hebrew but the students' mother tongues are Russian, Hebrew or Arabic.  It is an annual course which started in October, 2013 and will end in July, 2014.  Assessment is based on exams in reading comprehension as well as vocabulary tests. 

There is a positive learning environment in the course.  The students are motivated and conscientious.  They are friendly with each other and often perform tasks and assignments in pairs or small groups.  Moreover, they have an open relationship with me (their teacher) which means that they feel comfortable to approach me for guidance and assistance, to share their experiences or vent their frustrations.



My objective is to increase the students' lexicon by means of digital vocabulary games which are accessible on a wide range of technical devices. Vocabulary quizzes, which are given at the beginning of each lesson, measure the successful acquisition of vocabulary.   


Initially I encouraged one of my students, who had downloaded the vocabulary words onto a mobile application, to share this discovery with the rest of the students.  However this application was limited, consisting of only one game and it did not appeal to all the students.  Inspired by this idea, I started to research the available digital vocabulary games, and soon discovered Quizlet which has many advantages and would benefit my students.  Firstly, the game can be accessed on a mobile phone or any other technical device.  Secondly, because it has different kinds of games which become incrementally more challenging, it is suitable for a homogeneous group.


I created a group on Quizlet and uploaded a Set – a list of vocabulary words. When I   asked for feedback in the following class, I discovered that most of the students did not know how to access the game.  I found this ironic seeing as they are constantly engrossed in their mobile phones.  As soon as I discovered this, instead of continuing with our studies, I uploaded the game onto the overhead projector.  I explained how to request membership and how to access the games.  I familiarised the students with the games by demonstrating each one.  I insisted that each student send me a request to become a group member during class.  By the end of the class, all the students had signed up.  And, by the end of the day, most of the class were playing the games.

From then onwards, when the students take a vocabulary test they mark it with a tick to indicate that they used Quizlet to practise the vocabulary words. This allows me to compare their grades and progress and to measure the impact of technology on their vocabulary acquisition.



Only a couple of students do not use Quizlet because they do not feel comfortable with technology.  However, there has been a marked improvement in the grades of the students who do use Quizlet.  They feel in control of their studies, are more confident and even share the vocabulary lists with their friends and relatives outside of college.  To my surprise, the students constantly urge and remind me to upload new words, and some of them have even worked out how to create their own lists which they share amongst themselves.


 Because the words are translated into Hebrew, it is a challenge for those students who are not fluent in Hebrew. When this came to my notice, I taught this group of students how to translate the words into their mother tongue, and created a rota so that they could share the work-load.


Unfortunately, around exam-time, when there is a lot of pressure, the students spend less time on Quizlet.  



When introducing something new into the curriculum, basic directions and instructions should be given, preferably orally and on the overhead.  It cannot be assumed or expected that each and every student is adept and knowledgeable in every subject area.


It is crucial to receive feedback from the students at every stage.  Very often unexpected developments arise which have to be dealt with immediately otherwise the students lose interest and it is too late. Ideally, class-time should be set aside in the first month to discuss any issues or questions which crop up.


When the teacher is enthusiastic and motivated about something, it usually rubs off onto the students and further enhances learning.



Extra content

Using the Pedagogical Patterns Collector (PPC) to design an introduction to Quizlet - the digital vocabulary game

To What End: Explain a concept

By what Means:  Orienting, Eliciting problems in understanding, Presenting and addressing problems,

Total session time: 120 minutes.


TLA 1: Orienting time allotted =15 minutes


Teacher breaks learners into groups of at least two, and asks for the concept of Quizlet to be taught by student A to student B (Read Watch Listen - 5 minutes)

 (Collaborate -  10 minutes)



TLA 2: Eliciting problems in understanding time allotted =55 minutes


In each pair, student A explains the concept of Quizlet to student B, while student B asks questions for clarification until they feel they fully understand the explanation; and if they do not, then both students agree on the question to raise with the teacher (Collaborate - 25 minutes)

 (Read Watch Listen -  20 minutes)

 (Read Watch Listen -  10 minutes)


TLA 3: Presenting and addressing problems time allotted =50 minutes


In plenary, each pair submits their explanation of Quizlet, or their question about Quizlet. The teacher uses submitted explanations of Quizlet, or provides additional explanations to respond to questions (Discuss - 30 minutes)

Based on the simulation of Quizlet, recommend the games in Quizlet that are most suitable for your level. (Read Watch Listen - 10 minutes)

Play one of the games together on the overhead projector (Read Watch Listen - 10 minutes)

Allison Fink
09:19 on 4 April 2014

Embedded Content


Yishay Mor
5:05pm 22 May 2014

Hi Allison,

Great story! Could you perhaps add some screenshots of Quizlet, so we have an idea what it looks like?

Do you think this could be replicated in other language learning situations? What are the boundries and limitations of this innovation?



Allison Fink
8:23pm 7 June 2014

Hi Yishay,

Unfortunately there is a problem pasting the screen shots into Cloudscape.  Anyone who is interested in exploring this website should go into:


where ready-made sets can be accessed or new sets created.  You can also access some of my sets if you press mechina2014.

I use this website for language instruction but it can be used for teaching or learning any other subject including biology, geography, politics etc...

The sets can be written and/or  translated into hundreds of languages.  There is an automated translation option but sometimes the site does not have an available translation.  Also, a number of possible translations are provided for each word so the creator of the set must be proficient in both languages in order to choose the appropriate translation.

When using this website for vocabulary enhancement, the students can view  lists of words (compiled by the teacher or student ) with their translations.  They can even hear the word being read to them by pressing on the sound icon.  They can then test their vocab acquisition by playing the various games based on the same set of words.

The website can also be downloaded as an app onto a mobile phone.

My students have become quite reliant on the site.  I highly recommend it.





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