Randomising tools for EAP

Have you ever asked a question to the class which is met with silence, or taught a new class and have not learned all your students’ names?  Giving the job of selecting a student to a randomiser reduces your cognitive load – you don’t have to think about who you’ve already asked, who you might have missed out and what’s the name of that quiet student in the corner?

Student’s quickly understand why you use a randomiser and this keeps them engaged in your class. They know that the randomiser may select them at any time to perform a task. A randomiser helps the tutor avoid asking questions to the ablest student.

Hot Seat

In a recently observed EAP class, I created a ‘hot-seat’ activity where I placed business idioms into a randomiser. The class was split into teams and one team member was nominated to sit in the hot seat with their back to the board so they can’t see the selected idiom. The aim of the task was for the students in the teams to describe that idiom. The student in the hot seat listened to their teammates and tried to guess the word. The British Council describes ‘hot seat’ in more detail, but does not use the randomiser.

teachingenglish.org ‘hot-seat’

I’ve often used this online randomiser from classtools.net,  but recently, however, they have started to put ads. on their pages. There is now a premium edition (ad. free) available.


Alternatively, you could use a simple ppt with one name/idiom per slide that cycles through automatically.  Jimmy Littlewing has shared his creation on the TES lesson resources page.


Vocabulary Scavenger Hunts improves language learning

Vocabulary Scavenger Hunts improve language learning

NFC scavenger hunt at nottingham college

Near Field Communication (NFC) tags embedded into posters are a great way to create vocabulary scavenger hunts and other out-of-classroom collaborative activities for students.  Vocabulary Scavenger Hunts improve language learning by providing the opportunity for students to contextualize language in real situations. Students find these activities engaging and motivating and find new vocabulary easier to understand.


Small groups of students were required to navigate around the college via 9 posters embedded with NFC tags. These interactive posters directed the students’ smartphones to tasks, which could be written on blog posts.  In our recent scavenger hunt, we linked our NFC tags to word definitions on an online crowd-sourced dictionary called Toponimo. The students then had to make a collaborative decision regarding the most appropriate meaning of the word, relevant to its context.


The GPS system on smartphones can’t work inside buildings, so NFC tags are an ideal way to provide students with contextual information. These interactive posters had the effect of taking the focus away from the technology and allowed students to focus on deciding on the correct word definition for the location they were in. The students found that NFC-enabled mobile devices were a lot easier to use than the QR codes which have been previously used in vocabulary treasure hunts.


Questionnaires were given to the EFL learners after the scavenger quest and their opinions on the activities where gathered in focus groups. Initial research findings show that nearly 92% of our EFL students already looked up words on their mobile phones but every student involved in the project thought that learning the words in the different places around the college made them easier to understand. At the time of running the first vocabulary quest in December 2012, only one-third of the language learners regularly carried an NFC-enabled device to college. This is the main criticism of the vocabulary scavenger quest. Students mentioned in the focus groups however that these group vocabulary quests using mobile devices were more fun than comparable classroom activities using traditional dictionaries.

Read More
JISC Article on NFC Interactive Posters

Jisc blog

rfid journal

NFC World

UK college uses NFC to help teach English