There are so many exercise creation tools out there on the internet, and there are so many excellent sites available where your pupils can practise their language skills now, that it may be that you can get by without creating your own resources and exercises. I guess that most of us teachers enjoy creating our own stuff though, and from what I can see via twitter and so on, are more than happy to share them too. Hot Potatoes was one of the first tools or software applications that I used and it remains one of the best to use. I became aware of it via using the excellent Languages Online website and then again with Asi Se Hace, and since finding out it was free to download and pretty easy to set up exercises, I have used it regulary and put a number of exercises on to my own school’s department VLE website.
To use Hot Potatoes, you need to download it from the website (Click here). Just make sure you download the correct version for your computer, and then follow the various instructions to install it onto your computer. Hot Potatoes allows you to create a variety of activities, namely crosswords, cloze tests, matching exercises, quizzes and jumbled sentences.
When you have opened up the programme you will see the above options, simply click on the type of exercise that you wish to create. I have done a lot of vocabulary exercises using the match tool, which is probably the easiest one to start with. Mostly I have used it as a way for pupils to revise vocabulary that has come up in a text from a book or article, or possibly over a week. If you click on the JMatch button then you will get the template below to fill in:
All you then do is type in the words on the left hand side, with their answers on the right. You also can insert pictures as well for a visual stimulus to vocabulary test. To input more than five questions, use the arrow buttons on the left hand side of the template. When you have finished you have to customise your exercise. Do this by clicking on the icon to the left hand side of the question mark along the top bar. This opens a box where you can change the colours of the various parts of the exercise (title, background, heading, etc) give prompts and feedback to help pupils, set a time limit and so on. Click on Save As to save your test.
The next step is to publish your exercise. You can publish your quiz onto a blog or onto a Website. My school uses Contribute currently to construct our VLE but it can be added to a blog as well. To create a URL version of your exercise, click on the little blue spider web icon with a 6 on it, save it, and then view the exercise in your browser. If you are happy with it, you can then obviously copy the URL and link to it on your blog or website.
The best thing to probably do is to follow the tutorial (in the help section of the menu option when you have opened the Hot Potatoes to learn how to do things properly. Here are some examples of exercises that I have already made. (It is posible these might not load up as they are published on my school’s VLE)
Example 1 – Matching exercise
Example 2: Crossword
Example 3: Cloze test
Example 4: Quiz