ELT Experiences

Experiences of an English Language Teacher

10 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom


ELT Experiences QR CodeIt has been a while since I have posted any practical ideas for the classroom, and for this I am sorry. However, yesterday I found inspiration, yet again, while preparing for a workshop for my teachers at our school. This coming Friday’s workshop is about mobile learning and I have an opportunity to provide some input on the use of QR Codes in the classroom to motivate young learners. I have never used QR Codes before in the classroom but it would be something that I would definitely use in the future to engage learners with reading and conversation skills. Before we start with the 10 practical ideas with using QR Codes in class, here is a quick tutorial for those new to creating your own codes.

How to create your own QR Codes

Application: www.qr-code-generator.com; lets you make QR codes which could then be used in a variety of ways during lessons.

Similar application: http://goqr.me/; identical to the website mentioned above.

Focus: Creating QR codes for lessons which could include text or links to websites. These could be exploited in various ways.

Level: All levels.

Time: 20-45 minutes.

ICT skills: Browsing, typing, copy and pasting, and lesson planning.

Equipment: A single computer with internet access which is connected to the internet.

QR scanner: A smart phone or tablet will be needed to scan the QR Codes and a free application will be required to download – just search for QR Scanner/Reader on your app store and download it. I recommend “QR Reader” and it is available for both Android and iOS.


QR Code (URL)

QR Code (Text)

  1. Visit the website www.qr-code-generator.com and click on “Link” and paste (Ctrl V) in the link from the website that you would like to use as a QR code or click on “Text” and insert the text that you would like.
  2. Once you have the link pasted into the URL or inserted text in to the box, click “Create QR Code”.
  3. A QR image, which is black and white, will be displayed on the right-hand side of the website and you can download this. I recommend downloading the image as JPG.
  4. Once you have downloaded the QR Code, look in your “Download” folder for the image.
  5. Search for the JPG image that you have just downloaded and once you have found it you could either move it to the desktop. The QR Code will have be downloaded as a ZIP file, just double click on it and you will see the image.
  6. Once you have the image, right click with the mouse and click “Copy”. Open Microsoft Word or Pages and when the software is ready right click with the mouse again and click “Paste” or press “Ctrl V” together and it will paste in.
  7. You will be able to print out the QR Code.

Now you have learnt how to create your very own QR Codes and are able to print these out but how would you use them in the classroom? Well do not worry, as I offer 10 practical ideas whereby teachers could use QR Codes, with text embedded within it, in the classroom. So what are you waiting for? Get those QR Codes created!

1. What’s the word?

You stick QR Codes to each learner’s back or on their head and each code has text embedded within it. The student with the QR Code stuck to themselves cannot scan their own code and other students must help the learner guess their word by scanning the code and describing the word. This activity will get learners walking around the classroom and interacting with each other.

2. What’s the question?

Each student is given a QR Code which contains a question. As with the previous idea, a student cannot scan their own individual code. A student scans the code and then replies with a suitable answer. Each student should attempt to guess their own question embedded within their own QR Code from the prompted replies by other learners. As with the previous activity, students could have their codes stuck on their backs or on their forehead.

3. What’s the reading?

To make a reading task more engaging you could remove the reading comprehension questions from the coursebook and embed them within a QR Code, which are then printed out and stuck up around the classroom. Students could walk around scanning the questions, running back, writing out the questions and then searching for the answers. You could make this a bit more competitive by adding a time limit and putting students into small groups and turn it into a running question dictation exercise.

4. What’s the Quiz?

In many grammar, vocabulary or culture books, there are a range of quizzes, grammar auctions and so forth which could be replicated with QR Codes. You could create a quiz or grammar auction using QR Codes, spread them around the classroom and then, as with previous suggestions, get groups scanning the codes and dictating the questions and possible answers. It will test a range of skills if dictation is involved: reading, writing, speaking as well as listening. Once all questions have been dictated, students could work together and then decide on the correct answer, grammar form and so forth.

5. What’s the story, poem or nursery rhyme?

This is an idea which I have used before but with only word clouds, whereby you have a poem or a nursery rhyme with all the text and the students have to recreate the poem or nursery rhyme. With QR codes, you could use 3-4 within class with one code containing all the nouns, the other adjectives, another with some verbs and possibly one more with adverbs. Students have to work in small groups to recreate the story, poem or nursery rhyme with all the words from each code. It develops writing skills, focuses more on sentence structure as well as offers learners an opportunity to be more creative within certain boundaries. Once groups of students have completed the writing activity, you could pair groups up together and then they could compare their writing before checking as a whole class. You could finally give all the students the original story, poem or nursery rhyme.

6. What’s the connection?

This lesson idea focuses on functional language with questions and answers. You could incorporate this idea into any lesson which has a role-play or similar activity. The main idea is to create a QR Code for each individual question and response, so if you had 6 questions, you would have 6 QR Codes, and if you had 6 responses/answers, you would have 6 additional QR Codes – a total of 12. Imagine you are focusing on functional language in a Post Office, you could have these a question embedded in the QR Code such as “How much is a first class stamp?”, and students scan the code, write the question down and then have to search for suitable answer. It is essentially a matching activity for functional language with predicted answers from questions. Once students have all the questions and answers matched together correctly, you could then pair learners up and then get them to create a dialogue ensuring that they use selected questions and answers that they have scanned.

7. What’s the dialogue?

As with the previous lesson idea, you could create a QR Code for each individual line of dialogue so if you had 12 lines of dialogue between two people, you would have to create 12 QR Codes and place these codes around the classroom. Students then proceed to scan each line of dialogue, write it down and then have to reorder it in pairs or small groups – choosing who said what and how each person responded. It develops awareness of how conversations could evolve with responses by listeners. You could exploit this lesson activity with any functional language or as an activity after a listening focus. It would be a nice lead-in activity and you could ask students – once they have completed the aforementioned task – who the people are, where they are, what they are doing, etc.

8. What’s the speaking topic?

A nice speaking activity that I have used is to place learners into small groups around the classroom and giving each group a topic that they have to speak about before getting them to move around to another area and then chatting about a different topic. Well, this is essentially a spin off from this activity, with the topics that learners have to speak about, embedded within the QR Code. You could place a QR Code on a table or on a wall and learners have to scan the code and then chat about the subject. For example, you could have a general topic embedded in the code such as “Jobs” (learners speak about jobs that they want to do in the future, jobs that they had, etc.) or you could have a question or sentence to prompt discussion such as “Cigarettes should be banned”. It is easy and effective, which will engage learners very quickly.

9. What’s the idiom?

Another matching activity could be done with idiomatic phrases in lessons. If you have a strong group of learners and you would like to review more colloquial phrases, then this activity is for you. You have for example 6 idiomatic phrases and 6 corresponding definitions and each idiom as well as each definition is then embedded within each QR Code – a total of 12 QR Codes. For example, one QR Code could have, “My car cost an arm and a leg”, and the corresponding code could have, “My car was really expensive”. Students then have to look for the idiomatic expressions and then connect it with the more general definitions. It will generate learner awareness of more colloquial expressions in English and is more related to a guided discovery activity. One possible, which could be considered, after the idiom matching activity is that learners then have to create a dialogue between two people in their pairs or small groups.

10. What’s the missing word?

A popular reading activity in any English language classroom is the gap-fill exercise. It was the very first activity which I used in lessons and seems to be many other teachers’ favourite reading activity. You could always exploit a gap-fill exercise by adding all the missing words into a various QR Codes, so if you have 15 words gapped from a text then there will be 15 codes stuck up around the classroom. As with a reading gap-fill exercise, students have to look for the best word to put in the gap but this time the words are embedded in the QR Code. Students scan the code and then decide where this word is placed. It is a useful exercise and is slightly different to a timeless classic activity.

Well I hope the 10 ideas above are useful and you are able to incorporate it into your class. However, have you ever used QR Codes? Do you have any interesting ways to use QR Codes in class? Are QR Codes a useful tool or are they a technological gimmick?


Author: Martin Sketchley

I have been an English language teacher for over 10 years both abroad and now currently in the UK. I am highly interested in teaching to young learners, professional development and curriculum development.

33 thoughts on “10 Ways to Use QR Codes in the Classroom

    • No I hadn’t. To be honest, I heard about QR Codes and then am very keen to incorporate it into my lessons as much as possible but I suppose I should consider this chart now.

      I really thought I had such a wonderful post now. It took me months to think of a new post on my blog. I have been through a period of writer’s block.

      • I think there are lots of value in QR codes used widely. Sorry if my comment seemed negative. I I just thought the graphic was funny.

        QR codes were all the rage at conferences in Korea a few years back and I think I reacted a bit negatively because of all the hype Anyway great post.

      • That’s fine Mike. No apologies needed. The graph is funny and perhaps we should view QR Codes as a tool rather than a be all and end all of a lesson.

        I will look forward to attending some Korean conferences in the future but we shall see. I will be visiting Korea this Christmas and it would be great to meet up.

  1. I like these ideas – certainly something I hadn’t considered. I didn’t actually know those funny box things were called QR codes so now I do. And knowing how easy they are to create – cool, why not, I’ll give it a go and give you some feedback. Cheers Martin, good to see a new lesson idea on the blog 🙂

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  3. ok. fine.

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  6. Hi Martin,

    A couple of years ago I used QR codes to spice up a gap fill exercise and it worked really well.

    I read one blog post where a teacher used QR codes as links to online dictionaries that her students could access.

    I guess they can be useful if they are being used for their purpose (to share information), but they can be gimmicky if they are being used for the sake of being used,

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  23. Hey Martin,

    Great article, really useful tips in there. I’ve just finished writing a comprehensive guide to QR codes in the classroom, I’d be interested to know what you think of it.




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