Building vocabulary for technical subjects and supporting ESL students using Quizlet.

The acquisition of language is essential to all subjects.  As a science teacher, I am especially conscious of the vast number of new technical terms my students are expected to understand and use with confidence; particularly when answering exam questions. This became apparent to me when I started teaching abroad. Many of the students spoke English as their second, third or in some cases fourth language. To try and help build their vocabulary, I started using the tech tool Quizlet.

This resource is amazingly easy to use and you and your students can register within minutes for free (there is a paid service that unlocks extra functions).

What does it do?

Quizlet allows you to create digital flashcards, practise spelling tests, undertake definition comprehension activities and much. The key words and definitions can also be uploaded in a Microsoft Excel or Word format to automatically generate your flashcards. Within minutes you can create a wealth of resources, which can be used inside and outside of the classroom: on computers, smartphones, tablets, and even pencil-and-paper printed exercises.


How have I used it?

I had previously given my students lists of key terminology, that they were expected to know and understand. This would be set for homeworks and tested in later lessons. The great thing with Quizlet is, because anyone can access the resource, all I  have to do is share a web address and the students can practice from anywhere. Once they had practised memorising from flashcards, they could then attempt a self-generated quiz. At the end, the students then took a screenshot of their score and sent it to me. This allowed me to concentrate my efforts on targeted support and working directly with the students that had struggled grasping the language. For younger learners or students with very limited language, it is also possible to insert pictures into the flashcards making it even more accessible.


Time saving!

As the Quizlets you create are accessible to everyone, it also means you have access to all of the Quizlets that have been made before (in so many cases, someone has done the work for you). All you have to do is search for the topic or area of study, and share the link with your students. You can even import someone else’s definitions and adapt them to suit your needs.

Here are some examples of Quizlets I have made:

Go Science 2 – Chapter 1: Systems for survival

iGCSE Chemistry Edexcel Keywords

IB Chemistry Definitions

Have a go at making your own Quizlets! Let me know how you get on.


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