Use Technology for an ESL Scavenger Hunt

Tourists using navigation tools to explore the city. Man with two women friends exploring the city with travel accessories.
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At some point in your classroom, you’ve probably created a scavenger hunt for your students. You know, the type where you hide things and provide questions, clues, or riddles to find the hidden items. These scavenger hunts have traditionally been used as a way to get students familiar with their surroundings or as vocabulary association exercises. But add the wonders of technology and the increase of ownership of mobile devices by students, and you can take scavenger hunting to a whole new level.

Why Use Technology?

Many of our students have smartphones or tablets, and ESL as an educational field is incorporating more personalized learning through technology. Why not harness these tools for some terrific learning, and add empowerment through digital citizenship while you’re at it?  Not all of your students have smartphones/tablets? No problem – you can divide your class into teams and share what is available!

What Things Can You Do with a Technology-enabled Scavenger Hunt?

You can do the same things that you would normally do with a smartphone or tablet; that is, take and add a photo or video, type text, or even use the GPS system (with certain apps). These options provide great variety for both the educator building the game and for the students who participate in it.

What Is Out There? What Is the Cost?

Well, if anyone knows me, I’m all for low- to no-cost educational technology tools. There is a “forever free” Educator basic account on the Canadian-made app called GooseChase that I’ve been using. This account allows teachers to run a “live” team game (for up to 5 teams at a time). Of course, there are other paid plans for more teams, or individual participants, etc. It is quick and easy to download the app from either the App Store or Google Play. Once a simple account is created, teachers are welcome to use (or amend) ready-made “missions” or create their own.  Students download the app and enter the game code you provide. Sharing an activity feed or leader board within the app provides other ways of learning, connecting, and even competing.

Be a Participant and Join the Fun!

Want to see how it works? EVERYONE is invited to join the LearnIt2Teach Great Scavenger Hunt at TESL Ontario’s Annual Conference (Nov. 1-2, 2018).  Full joining instructions will be provided at the conference, although you can download the app ahead of time to be prepared. And if you love the idea and want to build your own, join the TechKnow session on Thursday afternoon of the conference. There, you will receive a quick overview and guide to setting up your own Scavenger Hunt!  Not attending the conference? No problem – watch Tutela for an upcoming webinar.


Nancy Van Dorp is a Senior Trainer and Developer on the LearnIT2Teach team (a project of New Language Solutions.) She also teaches technology and culture classes at Sheridan College. Her enchantment with EdTech possibilities leads her to share her discoveries with others.

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