Quizlet Live: Collaborative Opportunities in Game-Based ESL Learning

As a teacher in an international language school for adults, I spend almost 30 hours a week with approximately 20 students for twelve weeks. When spending such a large amount of time together, it’s important to keep things interesting. Maximising collaborative learning opportunities and chances for communication can help to keep classes fun, and one of the ways I do this for learning vocabulary is through the use of Quizlet. This post will explore whether Quizlet is a beneficial tool for learning vocabulary.

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 12.42.32 pm
An example Quizlet card

contains a word or phrase to be learned and the other contains a definition. Users can test themselves to see if they are familiar with the vocabulary. Learnt cards disappear and unlearnt ones keep getting tested. The Quizlet community is well established with over 140 million user-generated sets and 50 million active user accounts in 130 countries (Quizlet, 2019). Users can copy and adapt other sets. It is a great way to learn vocabulary and fun to play in group-based games via Quizlet Live.

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 12.43.46 pm
Quizlet Live home screen

This is where Quizlet comes into its own. The teacher launches the game from a computer or tablet. Each student needs their own device. The students log in to Quizlet Live (via quizlet.live) and input the PIN given to them by the teacher. Quizlet then allocates them into teams, and they have to find and sit with their other team members. Incidentally, this is a great way to get students moving around and learning each other’s names. Once everyone is in their teams, the teacher starts the game. Teachers can even start the game while students are still finding their teams if they want to create a sense of urgency and drama!

Screen Shot 2019-10-12 at 12.45.47 pm.png
Quizlet Live PIN and QR Code

Each device in the team shows a definition at the top of the screen and a range of answers below. Each team member has a choice of different definitions below, and only one person in the group has the correct answer. If the person with the correct answer selects it, then the team gets a point. If the wrong answer is chosen by anyone in the group, the team’s score is reset to zero. The first team to get to twelve points wins. It is therefore imperative that the teams collaborate as a group to discuss potential answers and choose the best one available before anyone taps their screen. As a result, participation and collaboration are important strategies for winning.

Quizlet is a good way of encouraging participatory culture and collaborative vocabulary learning. A participatory culture is one where members might informally mentor each other, sharing what they know with other members of the group (Jenkins, 2009). According to Anjaniputra and Salsabila (2018), Quizlet can increase engagement with vocabulary learning because the users believe it helps them and they enjoy the experience with each other. Bilova (2018) adds that using flashcards is still a relevant way of learning vocabulary for international students and that technology improves this by adding the possibilities for interaction and fun.

According to Bilova (2018), there is also the potential for students to take control of the vocabulary they learn by working in groups to generate new word lists. Quizlet can help by auto-generating definitions for any term typed. A study by Dizon (2016) recommended the use of Quizlet in EFL classes due to improvements it can scaffold in students’ vocabulary knowledge and their perceived sense of usefulness. The case for Quizlet in the classroom seems strong from students’ and researchers’ reflections. However, there are some areas of caution that should be considered.

The first area of caution is time. Teachers must give students time to become proficient with Quizlet (Bilova, 2018). Some students might struggle with the technical aspects of the application or the rules of the game. This is an opportunity for students to explain processes to each other in a calm and supportive way. Playing a few practice rounds to reduce anxiety and keep the stakes low might also help.

The second area of caution is the temptation to overuse Quizlet. Students seem to enjoy it when it is used at the start of the week to introduce some key vocabulary. However, they also need to see new vocabulary in context. Providing other opportunities for learning and using vocabulary such as reading comprehensions and roleplays might help.

The third area of caution is assumptions about students’ access to technology. Students learning English often have access to a phone (Tran, 2016), and students will often bring devices such as phones, tablets or laptops. However, teachers still need to ensure inclusion for those without access. This could be for financial reasons or personal preferences around technology. Therefore, teachers should be mindful not to embarrass students. Having access to some school devices may help.

As long as teachers are mindful of potential problems, young-adult students in an international language school are likely to find the inclusion of Quizlet Live has a positive impact on their vocabulary learning and collaborative skills.



Anjaniputra, A. G., & Salsabila, V. A. (2018). The merits of Quizlet for vocabulary learning at tertiary level. Indonesian EFL Journal, 4(2), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.25134/ieflj.v4i2.1370

Bilova, S. (2018). Collaborative and individual vocabulary building using ICT. Studies in Logic, Grammar and Rhetoric, 53(1), 31-48. https://doi.org/10.2478/slgr-2018-0002

Dizon, G. (2016). Quizlet in the EFL classroom: Enhancing academic vocabulary acquisition of Japanese university students. Teaching English with Technology, 16(2), 40–56. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1895972194/

Jenkins, H. (2009). Confronting the challenges of participatory culture: Media education for the 21st century. Retrieved from https://muse.jhu.edu/book/60823

Quizlet. (2019). About Quizlet. Retrieved from https://quizlet.com/en-gb/mission

Tran, P. (2016). Training learners to use Quizlet vocabulary activities on mobile phones in Vietnam with Facebook. JALT CALL Journal, 12(1), 43–56. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1826539179/


Featured image by Roel Dierckens 


One thought on “Quizlet Live: Collaborative Opportunities in Game-Based ESL Learning

  1. Thanks for reminding me about Quizlet Live! Working through the gaming module in LCN639 I kept thinking, “But how do I bring gaming into my French class?” and it was there all the time! I have been fortune to have worked mostly in schools with 1-to-1 laptop programs, so I have been assigning tasks on Quizlet to my students for about 10 years. When I introduce the program I like to tell them how the site was developed by a 15-year-old (like them) who was looking for a more effective way to revise for a French exam. I think it’s important to know that even as teenagers they can also be lateral and entrepreneurial thinkers.

    Quizlet Live! is a little treat that I save for the ends of lessons. Honestly, I think it is a fantastic program and would use it more regularly in class, but I’m very conscious that there is still a perception by many teachers that playing games in class is not active learning, which, if you’ve used Quizlet Live! you realise is far from the truth! My favourite thing about the game is how it randomises the groups. It’s so great to see students who wouldn’t normally interact having really active conversations about course content and going through the process of decision making in person even thought the game has an online interface. I think it is genius and I’m glad your adult learners agree!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s