Experiences of an English Language Teacher

Top Ten Lesson Ideas for QR Codes

Notes that I kept from my previous blog post on QR Codes

Notes from 2 years ago with my original blog post about QR Codes. Glad I kept them.

I wrote this post two years ago but unfortunately it was removed without me knowing. I am assuming it was related to my transfer from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. However, I thought I would rewrite this popular blog post and offer English teachers some ideas about how to incorporate QR Codes into lessons.

If you are unsure what a QR Code is, don’t worry. A QR Code, also known as a Quick Response Code, is essentially a two dimensional barcode which can be used by mobile devices (such as smartphones or tablets) to link to websites, embed text within them or even include MP3 files within the QR Code itself. However, you may be asking how to create a code. Not to worry, I have a tutorial below to help.

QR Code: Creating a Link

  1. Visit the website 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.
  2. Once you have the link pasted, into the URL 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 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 once ready.

Now you have learnt how to create your very own QR Codes, you will be able to print them out, laminate them for future use. Anyhow, what is the best way to incorporate QR Codes in lessons? Well don’t worry as I offer 10 practical ideas to use in class.

1. What’s the word?

You stick up 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 own word with the help of another student. The other student scans the code and then describes it to that person. 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 as it is stuck to their back or on their forehead. Another 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.


3. What’s the reading?

To make a reading more engaging, you could remove the comprehension questions from the coursebook and embed them within a QR Code, which could then be printed out and then stuck up around the classroom. Students could wander around the classroom, scan the questions, run back to their desk, write the question in their notebook and then search for the answers. You could make it a bit more competitive by adding a time limit and putting students into groups, then turning it into a running question dictation activity.


4. What’s the quiz?

In many grammar, vocabulary or other associated 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 dictations is involved: reading, writing, speaking as well as listening. Once all the questions have been dictated, students could then 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 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 a classroom with one code containing all the nouns, another with adjectives, the other with verbs and possible one more with adverbs. Students have to work together 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 then compare it with the original to see how similar or different it is. It also allows a chance for teachers to compare grammatical structures and language, much like from a Dictogloss activity.


6. What’s the answer?

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 to create a QR Code for each individual question and response, so if you have 6 questions, you should have 6 corresponding answers – a total of 12. Imagine you are focusing on functional language related to a Post Office situation, you could have each question embedded in each QR Code such as “How much is a first class stamp?”, and students scan the codes, write the questions and answers down in their notebooks. Once this is done, you could get students to match question and answers. Students could finally practice asking questions and answering these with a partner. It is a nice activity and students actually enjoy this.


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. It develops an awareness of how conversations could naturally evolve. You could exploit this lesson activity with any functional language or as an activity for listening focus. It would be a nice lead-in task and you could ask student – once they have completed the aforementioned task – who the people are, where they are, what they are doing, etc.


8. What’s the 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 to move around to another area of the room and then chatting about a different topic. Well, this is essentially a spin off from this activity. You could place a QR Code on a table or on a wall and learners scan the code and then chat about the topic or subject. Topics are embedded within the QR Code. For example, you could have a general topic embedded such as ‘Jobs’ (learners speak about jobs they want to have in the future, jobs they had, etc.) or you could have a question or sentence to prompt discussion. 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 during a lesson. If you have a strong group of learners (Intermediate or above) and you wish to review more colloquial phrases, then this QR Code idea might be suitable. For example, you could have 6 idiomatic phrases and 6 corresponding definitions with each idiom and definition embedded within each individual QR Code – a total of 12. For example, one QR Code could have “It cost me an arm and a leg!” and the definition could be embedded in another code with “It was really expensive!”. Students then have to scan each code and then match idioms with definitions. It will generate some interest and greater awareness of more colloquial expressions in English. One possibility, which could be considered, after the idiom matching activity, is that learners could then create dialogue using all the idioms that they have learnt.


10. What’s the gap?

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 activity. You could always exploit this gap-fill activity by adding all the missing words into various QR Codes, so if you have 15 words removed from the text, then you have 15 QR Codes placed around the classroom. As with a reading gap-fill exercise, students have a look for the best word to place in a gap but this time the words are embedded within the codes. Students scan the codes and then decided which word is best suited in the gap. It is a useful exercise and makes a creative point with such a timeless activity.

So there you have it! Ten ways to incorporate QR Codes into your lessons. Another way to get students using their phones in class in a more productive manner In which ways have you used QR Codes in class before? Have you QR Codes before? Is the preparation too much of a turn off from using QR Codes?


  1. Sketch! Nice to see you blogging again! I remember this post, it was really useful. You drew my attention to using QRs in the classroom and Ive since tried them out on a good few occasions. Not all successful I might add, but you know, that’s teaching! Cheers for posting again, I’ll share it with our teachers when I get a chance

  2. Barbara Barker

    Thanks for these ideas. Is it possible to cut a QR code in quarters and laminate the pieces? When students select the answers, they would get the corresponding piece of the code. Then, once they’ve picked four pieces, they put them together and scan them as one card. If their four answers are correct, the code reveals a picture. I’m wondering if the gaps between the card pieces or the lamination would prevent the scan.

    • Martin Sketchley

      I do like that idea. I don’t know about the gaps and cutting up the QR codes being problematic about scanning them. Why not try it out and let me know if it was successful? Seems very creative and definitely worth trying out. I look forward to hearing whether this idea was successful.

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