Randomly Generating Vocabulary for Practice

Challenge – In the physical classroom the teacher will often use sets of vocabulary cards in various contexts to enable the learners to practice a specific set of vocabulary. They are quick to produce and provide a randomly generated (shuffled) order which is useful for helping learners to apply their learning. Online it is possible for a teacher to recreate this via a ‘decision wheel.’

Tools Used – Zoom, Wheel Decide

Example Wordwheel

Activity Outline

In this example, learners played a game (based on an activity from the Teach This resources website) asking and answering questions in the present perfect. The questions were all in the form ‘Have you ever…’ and used a set group of past participles which the group had already learnt over the past couple of weeks. The wheel provided the learners with the infinitive form of the verb; they then had to remember the past participle and use it in their question.


Before the Lesson:

1 – Before the lesson, the teacher should access the Wheel Decide website (other decision-wheel-making websites also exist!) and create a new ‘Wheel.’ There is the option to populate up to 100 segments.

2 –  The teacher should save the link to their created Wheel and have it ready to share in the lesson.


1 – There are options on how this tool can then be used.

a) The teacher can use it in a ‘gameshow-style’ format by sharing the Wheel screen and operating it. In this situation, the class can be divided into two teams, A and B, and learners nominated to ask and answer from each team, accruing points for correct use of the grammar form.

b) Alternatively the link to the Wheel can be shared to learners and they can play the game in smaller groups in breakout rooms, with one learner operating the Wheel and sharing their screen. The first situation may be more suitable for lower level learners, and the second appropriate for higher levels, those who are technically confident, and those who have strong internet connections.

2 – This particular game required the learners to follow a script format whereby the person answering had to answer, ‘Yes, I have’ and then back up their answer with past simple reasons. The questioner’s team then decided whether they were telling the truth or a lie.

3 – The Wheel can also be used for simple call-and-answer activities, either in class or in breakout rooms, where partners call out infinitives and respond with past participles.

See the file below for an example of how this method was used in an online class.

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