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Quiz Quiz Trade – Fun Vocabulary Building Activity for Language Lessons

Background into Vocabulary Building

British Linguist, David Crystal states: Vocabulary is a matter of word-building, as well as word use. I totally agree with him. You have to learn vocabulary, but physically use it too. That’s why Quiz Quiz Trade is an effective vocabulary building activity for language lessons.

Not only does it combine vocabulary building, it promotes understanding, as well as meaningful interaction between people. That’s what language learning is about right, communication and interaction between people?

Many language teaching professionals advise not to teach vocabulary in isolation. Whilst, I agree with this theory to some extent, according to the National Reading Panel (2000), one principle of effective vocabulary learning is to provide multiple exposures to a word’s meaning.  There is certainly great improvement in vocabulary when students encounter vocabulary words often. Exposing students to vocab in varying forms is key and this is where Quiz Quiz Trade fits in as a vocabulary practice activity. It’s a form of exposure, it combines the skills of speaking and listening and most importantly, for students, it’s a fun vocabulary building tool. 

Words help students express themselves more precisely and sharpen communication skills. When students learn more of 90-95% of the vocabulary, words helps students to understand what other people are saying and what she/he is reading. 

What is Quiz Quiz Trade and How Does it Work?

My first encounter with Quiz Quiz Trade was in March 2018, when I put together this incredibly simple German Questions Quiz Quiz Trade Template.

It’s simply a set of strips of paper or card which contain a German question one one side of the strip and a translation of the question in English on the other side. The aim of the mobile activity, was to practise translation.

Whilst my initial contact with Quiz Quiz Trade was for translation practice, it can equally be used to practise target language vocabulary and target language definition (you could also add an English translation of the definition to help all students).

Quiz Quiz Trade TemplateQuiz Quiz Trade Vocabulary Building Instructions
  1. Create a set of card or paper strips for the theme or topic you’re looking at teaching. Each strip will have a word on one side, definition in TL on the other side, as well as a small translation into English on the bottom corner. 
  2. Give each student a strip.
  3. Play some Target Language music and get them moving around the classroom. 
  4. Stop the music and students should find and stand quietly next to their nearest colleague within 3 seconds.
  5. Partner 1 reads Partner 2 the word on their card. Partner 2 answers with their definition, ideally in TL or in English if required. Partner 1 agrees/disagrees or gives the answer if required.
  6. Repeat step 5 with Partner 2’s card. 
  7. After both vocabulary items have been asked and defined, the partners switch cards and start again from step 3.

Although learners certainly acquire word knowledge incidentally while engaged in various language learning activities, more direct and systematic study of vocabulary is also required. 


Johnson, C. & Johnson, D. Why Teach Vocabulary?

Read, J. Research into Teaching Vocabulary


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