Web 2.0 and Emerging Learning Technologies/Hot Potatoes

HOT POTATOES is a set of programs that allows the production of interactive web-based teaching exercises which can be delivered to any computer. The suite consists on six individual programs: JCloze, JQuiz, JCross, JMatch, JMix, and The Mashe.

Since a quiz is a game or competition in which you answer questions, accordingly, in JQUIZ the learner must create, in an interactive way, the correct answer. This may happen in four different forms: multiple-choice, short answers, a combination of the two just mentioned called Hybrid questions, and multi-select questions (where the student needs to choose several correct answers, among all the options provided). Feedback can be provided for right and wrong answers, as well as a hint in the form of single letters, which appear one at the time, according to student´s request. The JQuiz also gives a score which is lowered if several hints letters were requested.

A cloze test is a test in which words have been removed from a short piece of writing, and students have to write what they think are the correct words in the empty spaces; in JCLOZE students must do the same thing but the program provides clues, and encouragement by automatic scoring. Hints in the form of single letters are provided in case the student needs extra help.

A crossword puzzle is a game in which you write the answers to questions in a pattern of numbered boxes. In JCROSS the learners write up the words, by answering written questions or by looking at pictures and guessing the correct word. If necessary they can ask for hints, in the form of free letters.

A mix is a combination of different items so that the result cannot be easily separated into its parts, and JMIX produces jumbled-sentences, where the student can choose among several answers. In this case the hint bottom provides whole words or even segments of the right sentence, if requested.

Two things match when they look the same because they are pairs, so in JMTCH there are two lists made up of words, or sentences, or pictures, which the student has to match. Also in this program scoring is available.

THE MASHER is a program that compiles batches of hot potatoes exercises into a whole unit, in a sequential order, with the same colour and appearance setting; it also helps to set certain convenient links using the navigation buttons to create an index file for the unit. This is the tool that allows you to upload the files to hotpotatoes.net, in case of having an account, or if you have registered earlier.

At the Hot Potatoes home page, there is a free software available that has limited entries, still it gives a clear idea of the wide range of possibilities this tool has for ELT. The set with a wider range of entries is not freeware, but can be used without conditions by members of public or non-profit educational institutions. However, a registration is necessary. H.P. were created by the University of Victoria Humanities Computing and Media Centre (Canada). A commercial wing called Half Baked Potatoes provides the necessary funds.

The production can be uploaded into a web page which itself can be uploaded to hotpotatoes.net (handled by Half Baked Potatoes) from within the hot potatoes program. In this site there are plenty of examples. To enter this net, registration is obligatory.

URL to download freely H.P. http://hotpot.uvic.ca/

Teaching and Learning possibilities: What a teacher/student can do

Hot potatoes set constitutes a tool that allows teachers to create their own material for subject content instruction. The programs are also useful for tests. Teachers can develop interactive multiple choice and fill-in-the-gap exercises as well as crosswords, questions where short answers are required or where ordering and rearranging words is necessary to make up sentences.

Learners are allowed to work with the exercises on line, in groups or by themselves in such a way that they get engaged in a new, interesting and funny learning experience. H.P. programs have outstanding characteristics, namely they allow the up-loading of pictures, audio and video.

Students can practice listening and comprehension choosing the correct written form in multiple-choice options, sometimes they must appeal to their knowlegde dragging to find out the correct answer. Often they have to write up their own production that can be immediately checked for mistakes. The program has hints, scores, clues, icons and other ways to boost learner participation.

Example links:


Resources for Students and Teachers of English as a Foreign Language UFC - UNIVERSITÉ DE FRANCHE - COMTE


This is a French website to learn English online. It is a good example of H.P. because it features audio and video. The exercise challenges the learners to write up the proper time, after listening and watching the video where native speakers talk about what time it is.

  • Marshall Adult Education

Student Lessons


We have chosen this example because simple vocabulary is used. The exercises requires to match sound (listening skills) with a vocabulary item (written skills). Here, meaning is also involved by linking with images. It is simple, useful, friendly, and as regards as the use of hotpotatoes as software, it includes three interesting features: image, audio, and dragging. Also you may find exercises like mixed up sentences, that allows to drag the words into the correct order to make a grammatical sentence. Moreover, crosswords are also available.

  • Sheaholm-High School

World Language Ms Urian


An exercise to revise telling the time, for English speakers learning Spanish! Very interesting: there are several questions for learners to choose the correct answer.


The ESL Area - Online Quizzes


Exercise: A bird can fly includes pictures and multiple choice exercises about animal's abilities. We have chosen it because it provides several correct options to score at the same time. It is very interesting, apart from showing other amazing features of hot potatoes.