Evocation bingo: Questionmaking and increased participation

Thalawyn Silverwood, Wako University


Quick guide

  • Key words: creativity, listening, questions, question making, speaking
  • Learner English level: False beginner and above
  • Learner maturity level: High school and above
  • Preparation time: 10 minutes in class
  • Activity time: 30-60 minutes
  • Materials: Paper, pen


This activity gives students practice creating and asking questions to evoke specific responses from the teacher. The goals are:

1. To give students practice in creating questions.

2. To challenge students to be creative.

3. To have students be more active.

The activity requires no outside preparation, so it is useful when you need a lesson immediately.


Step 1: With pen and paper, each student draws a bingo grid using an entire sheetof paper. Each box needs to be big enough for one word. Of course, blank bingo sheets can be used instead.

Step 2: Each student writes a different English word in each box. Any word is OK: nouns, adjectives, or verbs. Encourage simple words and give many examples. Ask students to write words they know, their favourite things, or things they can see in the room. Don’t let students spend too much time preparing.


Step 1: Tell the students you are going to play bingo. They will ask questions, and you will reply. If students hear you saying a word written on their grid, they may tick it off.


Student: What animals do you like?

Teacher: I like lions, and tigers, and bears, oh my!

Students may tick any of these words: I, like, lions, tigers, and, bears, oh, my.

Step 2: Students ask questions. Anyone may ask at any time. Students may work in pairs or groups to think of questions. A student may tick words the teacher says even if that student did not ask the question.

Step 3: Continue the game for a set time. Students who get bingo should continue to try and get more rows. When the time ends, have students count how many completed rows they got.


Normally, this activity works only once because if you do it again, cunning students will make their sheet as easy as possible. However, there are ways to redo it with the same class.

1. Students make sheets and the teacher randomly exchanges them. If you do the activity with two or more classes you can exchange between them.

2. Set conditions, such as the following: All words must be more than seven letters. All words must be from this week’s vocabulary list. The first row must be verbs, the second row must be words that start with S; the third row must be foods.

3. Students take turns coming to the front and answering in place of you.


1. The activity is easier if you are not so strict. Allow imperfect questions as long as the meaning is clear. Allow similar words: “cats” when you said “cat,” “ice” and “cream” when you said “ice cream.”

2. Encourage students to listen to each other. Students can tick words that other students evoke, and students can use other students’ questions as models for making new questions.

3. Students can get a lot of answers easily with the question, “Which do you like: A or B?” It is OK to allow sly questions a few times. If it becomes a problem, you can reply, “I like both,” or “I don’t know,” requiring students to think of different questions.

4. Because it’s bingo, students who get stumped with a row should try another one.

5. Because students need some experience to recall words and question forms, this activity is recommended for high school and above.



It is helpful to remind students that when speaking in a foreign language, it is common to ask a question and not get the information you wanted. You need to learn how to rephrase questions and try again. If you want the right answers, you need to ask the right questions.