A simple Quizlet set

Getting started with Quizlet

The easiest way to get started with Quizlet is to search for ready made sets. It saves you having to type things in and if you use one of the popular English coursebooks there’s a very good chance you’ll find something you can use straight away or adapt for yourself from sets made by other Quizlet users from all over the world. Teachers are creating and adapting new study sets all the time.

Let’s start at the very start: Quizlet.com

quizlet start page

Click that “get started” button, sign up. (You don’t need to tell me how to do that do you?).

Click create and put what you want in the search box.

A search for New English File Elementary produces this:

new eng file quizlet search

For all searches I recommend selecting the turquoise options box in the top right-hand corner and this box appears:


quizlet search options

Tick image sets only to save you time and teacher-created sets (if you have a premium subscription) to increase the quality of the selection. This does not guarantee that the sets will meet your needs or be error-free. Check anything you choose,for spelling or grammar errors, then check it again, there is nothing more embarrassing than grammar or spelling mistakes on your Quizlet set! Make sure you click on the update results bar.

Making your own simple set

Many of the major course books have a website where you can download wordlists.

Headway and New English File Wordlists

Download the pdf or Excel file (xlsx) of your choice. Cut and paste your selection. Your can paste into Excel or word and delete what you don’t want, but I’m going to bring it all into Quizlet and delete and/or adapt it from there.

create q

Click on import from Word, Excel , Google Docs etc

imported headway data

This is what happens when you copy and paste from the Headway Excel spreadsheet without deleting. However Quizlet “reads” the spaces and splits the imported text into terms and definitions.

results of imported data

This produces a lot of choices for a teacher. Do you want your students to have grammar knowledge? There are nine nouns and one verb, do you want to leave that type of  grammar information in or out? The selection seems more thematically than semantically organised, also known as lexical sets  (see below for which is considered more effective). You could imagine students creating a short dialogue from the terms.

Do you want to leave the phonetic translation in? I think it depends on your teaching style. It’s one of those things  that I know I should know more about and should include in my teaching more, but I haven’t.

At first it seems that you would have to delete one side or the other but you can just create a gap, and include a picture. This is always preferred because it aids recall and usage (see the research section for multimedia theory).

simple set


Have a look at the finished Quizlet

Play around with all the different options it shouldn’t take you more than fifteen minutes. Do you think your learners would like it? Which mode do you think would help them learn most?

If you’ve read the research section you’ll know that one of the things that helps move items from short -term memory to long term memory is to do an activity with the new information. In Quizlet Match provides a quick and easy activity which if you have a projector or even a large screen TV you can play with a group of learners. Kahoot! claims that competition is beneficial to learning, so your learners might enjoy seeing who can match the terms to definitions the fastest.

Working with Vocabulary – a bit about the research

Vocabulary was once the neglected area of language  learning, not as important of the big four skills of speaking, listening, writing and reading. But then David Wilkins (among others) championed the importance of vocabulary with his quote which became almost obligatory for anyone writing about vocabulary at anything above CELTA level.

“While without grammar very little can be conveyed,
without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed. (Wilkins pp. 110-111)”

It’s the size of the task which makes focussing on vocabulary so important.

“Acquiring a sufficient amount of words is not easy: the base line of learning is 2000 word families, but one must know 8000 to 9000 word families in order to obtain 98% vocabulary coverage for newspapers or novels (Nation 2006).”



Michael Lessard-Clouston  has been generous enough to post the first chapter of his book here.  (You may need to subscribe to academia .edu but it’s free and easily done.)  He also links to the word quiz at the amazing free rice which donates rice to help world hunger.


Work through the reflective questions in chapter 1. Is there anything you need to change in your vocabulary teaching? Can your learners change and improve their language learning?



MWASIG: Working with wordlists

Nation, I. S. P. (2006). How large a vocabulary is needed
for reading and listening? The Canadian Modern
Language Review, 63(1), 59-82. doi: 10.3138/cmlr.