Skip to content

10 Hot Potatoes matching exercise

Janos Blasszauer

Download the video here


Questions / instructions

What students do

How students work

What you need

10 min Teacher uses matching exercises to reinforce
and introduce key vocabulary. Matching and description

Genre / description Type
of movie/Name of movieName of movie/Description

Reading Comprehension individually Hot Potatoes matching exercises

See an activity here.


General introduction

In this content-based lesson on movies students are asked to do some matching exercises to reinforce and introduce key vocabulary. The following matching activities have been used: Genres/Description, Genre/Name of movie, Name of movie/Description. The main idea is that each student tries to match the correct pairs. The Hot Potatoes software allows us to create online matching activities. The program was designed to allow teachers to make interactive, Web-based exercises. It uses both HTML and JavaScript, however, one does not need to know these languages to make their online exercises. Actually, teachers use the templates of the software to create their tasks that can be published on the Web. This activity enhances students’ enthusiasm towards a specific topic, it can consolidate and/or teach new key vocabulary. Otherwise the Hot Potatoes software suite includes six applications, enabling you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web. Hot Potatoes is not freeware, but it is free of charge for those working for publicly-funded non-profit-making educational institutions who make their pages available on the web.The activity step by step1. Students go to the website where the matching activity is. In my case at the „Virtual English School” (based on a Moodle platform) I have created a section called “Movies”. In this section I collect all the links that I want my students to visit. So they just click on the hyperlink that takes them to the specific matching activity.2. Students match the pairs.3. Students check their answers against the key. The program can automatically give the result after the students click on the “Check” button

4. Now students are invited to comment on the results.

5. Based on the results some students report to the whole class what they have learnt.

6. Teacher praises students and by giving them a feeling of success he maintains a relaxed, warm atmosphere which is conducive to learning.

General advice

Why use matching exercises? This activity is designed to be fun. You can use them at any time but mainly at the beginning of a lesson or at the end of it. You should design your matching tasks to be in line with the topic you are focusing on. The activity is great to introduce some variety and excitement to the lesson. It is a great way to elicit/revise language in an enjoyable way. These exercises are particularly good at promoting thinking and reading skills. It can be used to match words with their definitions (genre/description) or to match the name of the movie/movie poster with the movie description. Matching activities can be done individually, in pairs or in small groups. This techniques is suitable for both small and large classes, so whatever the size of your class, you will be able to use them. Usually I design my exercises to last from 5 to 15 minutes.

What about any new vocabulary? It might be a good idea to pre-teach unknown vocabulary before students begin. You could create an online glossary or choose to write any words you think your students don’t know on the board and then tell them to use an online dictionary to look them up. They can do this individually, or in groups (with each group looking up different words and then reporting back to the class). Alternatively, when students come across an unknown keyword they can highlight it and click on the Wordweb icon in their toolbar to get the definition of the word. WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words from almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia. You can download it free of charge at:

Technical tips

If you want to design a similar lesson with your class, just click here, so that you can see what a Hot Potatoes matching activity looks like. The good news is that you can design your own activity and you don’t need any HTML knowledge at all. You just have to fill out the template the software provides you and that’s all about it. The software has a built in help file as well. You can also find a tutorial at the Hot Potatoes tutorial site at: .

Preparation for class

First of all see the Technical Tips section above on what you have to check before class.

You know best what matching exercise suits your students so bear that in mind when designing your activity.

The following checklist might be useful.

1. Decide on a topic.

2. Decide which survey creator tool suits you best.

3. Create matching exercise based on students’ language level and interest.

4. Decide how you will share the matching exercise link.

5. Decide in what way you will discuss the result of the matching exercise (pairs, small groups, whole class).