Establishing meaning with Quizlet Live

quizlet liveHave you tried Quizlet’s new “Live” feature yet? I’ve always been a fan of Quizlet but with Live, they have taken online fun to another level. I have not seen such a strong response by students since Kahoot came along!

The way it works is students visit the site The teacher brings up a quizlet set that either they have already created or that someone else created. Click the “Live” icon (a purple rectangle). This will generate a code which students use to join the game. What sets Quizlet live apart is students are then automatically placed into teams. Each team has the name of an animal, which appear in your target language if the Quizlet set is in the target language. When gameplay begins, each student on the team will see a word on the top of their screen and 4 possible translations of the word. Their teammates also each have 4 possible translations. However, team members don’t know what options their teammates have. If a student answers incorrectly, their team is penalized by 3 seconds. Students quickly learn to communicate with each other!

I’m seeing students that normally don’t care actually getting competitive and trying to help their team win! I also shuffle the teams each round so they have to work with various people.

I’m not big on teaching with “drills,” but with Quizlet Live, I’ve discovered that students can play without any prior knowledge of the vocabulary. Because the words come up multiple times, student begin to recognize them as they play. It also goes really fast so you can play several rounds in just five minutes.

The way I am using Quizlet Live currently is “establishing meaning” or pre-teaching vocabulary before my students tackle a reading passage or chapter. Rather than using it to memorize vocabulary in isolation or as a review tool, I am finding that this is a great way to quickly and efficiently get words into students’ short-term memory (or more accurately, working memory) so that acquisition begins to occur as I activate the words through reading and discussion.

Give Quizlet Live a try. Your students will love it. And I think you will find that reading/listening will be more productive and less frustrating if students have the vocabulary in their working memory prior to beginning the reading or listening process.



  1. Thank you for this new resource! I could not find the icon to open a set in Could you help me with this? I did sent a ? to Quizlet help. Gracias!

  2. I’ve used this before but as review. Thanks to you, I used it with my Spanish 4 group today as an anticipatory set to preview vocabulary. In some ways, I think using as a preview works better because they don’t know the vocab yet so it takes longer for the game to finish and there is a lot of trial and error on their part to guess meaning. Plus, it acts as a formative assessment for me to see what words I really need to work on. Thanks for sharing this great idea!

  3. My students love quizlet live, I can’t picture how to use it to establish meaning, though. Do,you just put the new structures I and have the kids figure out the meanings as they play? Also, I only introduce about three structures at a time – that doesn’t sound like a very challenging game 😉. can you elaborate a little bit of how,you use this tool for the purpose of establishing meaning? Thanks so much!!!!

      1. Hi Brigitte! I am using it to review/establish meaning with a combination of new and old words right before we read a chapter. Maybe establish meaning is not a good term to use. I have many low-level kids who do not retain vocabulary easily. Often because they cannot seem to attend school consistently or are very distracted when they are in school. This seems to give them a little comprehension boost prior to reading a chapter in a novel.

  4. Students LOVE quizlet live! In an attempt to make it more CI friendly I have tried some adaptations. 1. I took a story that we had just read and broke it up by sentence and put it in quizlet. Then put in the translations of each sentence. Because it is a CI story with a lot of repetition with some small changes, the students really had to read each sentence fully to get it right. Basically it was a fun way to have them read and reread the sentences again and again. 2. I was teaching Roman gods and put the god’s name in one side (in the TL) and a short COMPREHENSIBLE description in the TL (Latin) on the other side. Again, it becomes a repetitive, comprehensible reading activity.

  5. I love your idea of using it to pre-teach vocabulary before a difficult reading. I just assigned a reading using Actively Learn but I wish I had used your strategy before tackling this reading.

    If you haven’t tried Actively Learn, you should. Actively Learn is to text what Edpuzzle is to video.

    Thanks for another great post!

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