Wordwall for ELT vocabulary games

Wordwall is a recent find for me. I heard about it during this webinar on gamifying learning, which was quite interesting. I’ve since mentioned it to various colleagues, and the typical response has been ‘oh yeah, Wordwall, that’s pretty good’. So I guess I’m behind the times!

Basically, Wordwall allows you to create interactive resources online for use in class or at home. Activities are often games, but you can use it to bring more standard coursebook activities to life such as matching tasks. It’s very straightforward to create a resource – there are a variety of templates available, most of which are intuitive and require no more than 10 minutes to set up.  You can create five activities with the free membership, then unlimited activities (including a multiplayer quiz) when you sign up (costs me 120 baht per month which isn’t bad).

So far, I’ve mainly used the activities for…

  • a ‘smart start’. Students tend to filter into my classes a bit late, so I use these activities as a review (or diagnostic) at the start of class. It’s been taking the place of Quizlet Live for me in the last month, although only for my Primary level students.
  • breaktimes games.
  • I’ve found that using Quizlet has been a good way to get learners to review vocabulary at home. Wordwall is having the same effect (so far anyway, maybe the novelty will wear off)
  • end of term reviews. We’ve just had a half-term break – Wordwall was a nice, fun 20-minute end to the term, just to wrap things up.

I’m looking into ways I can use Wordwall for more productive tasks. Watch this space though.

For these example activities I’ve just used a quick vocabulary set for ‘personality adjectives’. You can add far more terms than I’ve used if you wish. Excuse any small errors – these are just examples! The game creation screen is similar for each activity – see the first ‘Group sort’ example.

Group sort

To check meaning you might want students to categorise the vocab – in this case positive versus negative.

This screenshot of the Group Sort tool shows how easy it is to do that. You can add as many groups as you want – for this example a category like ‘neutral’ might be needed.

Once you choose your words then you select a theme and change the settings…

I usually use a count down format (1 or 2 minutes) to add a bit of excitement. Here is what you might end up with…

Personality adjectives

Quick and easy. I find it a paper saver too. We are lucky enough to have interactive whiteboards at work so this is a good way to use them, to get learners energised, out of their seats and collaborating.

True/False

This template does roughly the same thing as Group Sort, but the format is a bit different. Words scroll across the screen and learners select the correct option for each one before they disappear. Works well as a speedy group game.

Personality adjectives True/False

Whack-a-mole

Whack-a-mole can be used in a similar way. This is the most frantic of the games and my learners go mad for it. I add some sneaky challenges into this game, like words with wrong spelling to try and trick the learners. This game works really well with my upper-primary kids (aged 9 and 10).

Personality adjectives

I find putting this game on a quicker setting is better:

Maze Game

I tend to use this one either as a breaktime game or as a homework activity. The students love it, but it’s a bit time-consuming for class time.

In this example I’ve shared a range of question types you could use. These relate to word form, spelling, pronunciation, etc, but there are plenty more options.

Personality adjectives

Some of the game style activities aren’t that good. I wouldn’t recommend the ‘Balloon Pop’ or ‘Aeroplane’ games as they are generally a bit easy even on their hardest settings, and the amount of practice learners get from these is much less as the games are slower. I guess it depends on your learners though – mine prefer the more fast-paced games and these certainly work better in the classroom. Here is an example of balloon pop for a partial synonyms activity from my coursebook, Beyond A2+.

Crossword

This is actually a pretty good, functional interactive crossword. Another good one for breaktimes or homework. It includes an online keyboard too, which is helpful if you use an IWB. I confess though, I haven’t checked the functionality of this on a mobile, so if you do please let me know how it goes.

Personality adjectives

You can change the template for crosswords and run these as a quiz instead. In fact, the basic membership allows for a multiplayer quiz function (you can just select to change a crossword to this template in a side bar). This gives you a log in, in similar style to Kahoot or Quizlet.

Here is an example of the quiz function, not in multiplayer though.

Personality adjectives quiz

You can also do a simple ‘open the box’ style question format (example). This is okay, but a bit limited and teacher-led.

Anagrams

The anagram function is another simple and effective tool. It takes about 90 seconds to create this resource – there’s an option to include clues if you want.

Personality adjectives

So, there are about 8 examples of resources you can create. That’s about a third of all those available on the basic membership.

Would I recommend Wordwall? Yes. I think it’s a good, easy-to-use site, and my learners have responded well to the resources. I’m going to be careful not to go overboard with using this though, and try to keep it more for homework, breaktimes and end of term. Games on their own aren’t learning, but this tool has it’s uses.

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