Teach verbs with animated GIFs and Quizlet


Teaching verbs can be accomplished through a combination of miming, games, worksheets, video clips, discussion, lecture, translation, and perhaps a host of other strategies.  Reinforcing the meaning of many verbs by providing a video clip can help with retention. Flashcards can also assist with vocabulary acquisition.  Quizlet’s flashcards deliver still images or animated clips online. Animated clips can accelerate acquisition through motion in context. Quizlet’s ability to include animated GIFs makes it a useful tool for language students learning base verbs.

What is an animated GIF?

Animated GIFs can be thought of as very short videos.  The term GIF is an acronym short for ‘graphics interchange format’. Technically, it is a set of compressed computer images played in sequence to simulate movement. Most GIFs contain just a few frames and run only a few seconds.  If chosen carefully, they deliver a single message to the learner.

Here’s an animated GIF example:  “skate boarding”  http://gph.is/2cAIxID

Animated GIF sources

Giphy is an enormous repository of animated GIFs.  Giphy presents GIFs as a continuous wall of GIFs.  To locate a GIF for your lessons, type a search term in the “Search all the GIFs” text box at the top of the screen.  When you search, using the continuous form with an object usually provides better results. There are many sources of GIFs; see the link below. I would not recommend sending your students to these repositories as there are plenty of potentially offensive GIFs as well as the distraction that will be caused by students seeing popular culture GIFs.

Inserting animated GIFs into a Quizlet study set

A “how to” sheet that details the process of locating a GIF and inserting it into a Quizlet study set has been created for your consideration. The process is the same as inserting an image (JPG, PNG, GIF).  Creating a Quizlet study set can be accomplished by following the instructions on this “how to” sheet.

Create your own animated GIF

This is going way beyond expectations but I am including it here for those who have the time to tailor learning objects for their learners.   The fast way to create an animated GIF is to use a mobile phone and an app.  Links for GIF creating options (Looper, Video Loop) are provided below.  There are many to choose from at the App stores.

Another way to create an animated GIF is to take the photos of an action then stitch them together using a tool.  I used Giphy on my workstation to generate the lifting a plant GIF.  This GIF has 5 separate frames.  Each photo was taken separately.  You can speed this up if you are comfortable with taking pictures in burst mode then removing the redundant images. I’ve created a “how to” sheet to guide you through this process if you take on this task.

Final thoughts

During this academic year, I am hoping that our team can create some Quizlet study sets that can assist our students to learn action vocabulary more efficiently.  If we come up with anything outstanding I will post the links below. If you have any experience or ideas related to integrating animations in your language lessons, please post them below.

Links to listed apps in this blog post:


Hi—I'm John Allan. I am an educator who works in the technology enhanced language learning field. I create online learning opportunities and mentor instructors on the Avenue project. I have experience teaching ESL and EFL in Canada and the Middle East. I hold an MSC in Computer Assisted Language learning, a M.Ed. in Distance Education, TESL B. Ed., a B.Ed. (OCT), and a variety of TESL relevant certifications from TESL Canada, TESL Ontario and the Ontario Ministry of Education. For more articles, learning objects, projects and blog links see https://www.linkedin.com/in/johnharoldallan


7 thoughts on “Teach verbs with animated GIFs and Quizlet”

  1. Great set of resources John!
    Perhaps students could also create the GIFs as a project. It would help them internalize vocabulary and make the task more collaborative.

  2. David:
    GIF Lingua looks like and extensive and promising resource for language classes. Thanks for the contribution.


  3. Pingback: Quizlet for Language Teaching | EFL Magazine

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