Kahoot! in ESL CLassrooms

Kahoot! Is a free online quiz and survey software. It is very simple and user friendly. It can be played in any level classroom, but also as fun activity with friends (well what, doesn’t everybody have a cell phone today ?). The game master (here it will be a teacher) has so simply create an account. Once the game master is connect, he/she can create a quiz from scratch or take a quiz that is suggested on the website (either leave it that way or modify). The way to do the activity is to project the quiz on the screen at the front of the class. There is a ‘pin’ number given so that students can login to the quiz. Players can either connect by cell phone, tablet or computer, but in a classroom, computer is the solution. On the players screen, they do not see the answers written out, they only see a color logo that is linked with the answers on the board. You can either decide to create a quiz, discussion or survey. Teachers/game masters have the possibility of giving more or less time for the students/participants to answer the questions, depending on the level of difficulty.

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Kahoot! is a very interactive tool that a teacher can use to teach, explain and review material. In an ESL class it is a fun and interesting way to play grammar games and review questions. Without actually calculating the results for real grading, it gives the possibility for teachers to analyse the understanding of the students. A fun part, maybe for the younger ones, would be to insert images related to the vocabulary they are learning. For example, you can put a picture any farm animal (let’s say that is our subject) you give them 3 different animal names and the right one. It can permit the teacher to see how many knew the word in English and adjust their teaching accordingly. This is probably more for elementary beginners, for intermediate students it can be prepositions. This can be done, similar to the use of a Smartboard© where you put objects on, under, behind, etc; giving a choice of 4 different prepositions. For the stronger ones in English it can be short sentences and the students have to find out what verb tense goes in the sentence. An interesting option, is by using it as a reading comprehension quiz, to help them remember what they read about and see if the understood the book/reading. You can either teach using those exercises, use them as a review or even as an analysis to see the level of the students. These are very simple exercises that can be useful in an ESL classroom. Being an interactive tool, students get to practice their grammar, reading skills and their basic English, while having fun.

The generation of today prefers technology to paper, therefore giving them the possibility to play with any technology will make them more motivated to learn in a second language classroom. It can add a little bit of energy to the classroom, since the top 5 students are listed on the front screen and they can see their names pop up. If you start each of your courses with a little review quiz it can motivate students to study a bit since they know that if they have a good grade their name will be shown at the front of the class. It brings a positive mood in class and students like it. As, Sylvia Duckworth, a French teacher in Toronto, tried it with her students and found that ”I used a Kahoot! game for the first time with my grade 5 Core French students (all boys), and I don’t think I have ever seen them more excited or engaged in an all French activity as they were during the game.”

Although adding competition by having the top 5 shown at the front of the class is interesting, it might also be a negative point. Some students might be disappointed that their name never shows up, or some might not like having the attention of having their name there. Also, as seen in the course (which I hadn’t seen when I tried with friends) it does not work that well with too many students. If several students were at equal points, at first place, they wouldn’t always see their name. There were at least 2 students that had finished first with the same points, but only one name appeared.

As a future ESL teacher I would probably use this tool, for both elementary and high school because I find it very interactive and fun. It gives the possibility to the teacher to quiz his/her students as a review and see if they learned well the past lesson. In class it brings a positive and fun mood, students participate more. For sure I wouldn’t award grades on the quizzes, but simply to analyse and make them practice/review. At first, I only thought about the idea of having the teacher create a quiz for their students, but while researching on that tool, I stumbled upon Edshelf where it suggested to have the students create quizzes themselves. That way, they could reinforce their learning by thinking about potential right and wrong answers.

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