Bridging the language gap: Poll Everywhere across cultures


Learning to communicate in another language is a powerful tool; studies have shown that learning another language enriches your mind and broadens the circle of people you can connect with. However, learning a second language is difficult, especially for adults. The University of Seoul in South Korea studied the effects of Poll Everywhere in their English language classes, and the results were astounding.


Studying the impact of Poll Everywhere

The University of Seoul in South Korea evaluated the effect of an Audience Response System (ARS) like Poll Everywhere in English classes for Korean students. For two semesters, students answered various types of questions relating to the English language: multiple-choice, open-ended, clickable image, etc.. Students used their smartphones and laptops to respond. When the class ended, an interview and anonymous survey was conducted to identify how the use of Poll Everywhere impacted the students’ learning.

The results

Anonymity is key

51% of the students indicated that the ability to respond anonymously helped their classroom discussions. Specifically, the students felt more comfortable and willing to participate in English conversations when it was conducted through Poll Everywhere. According to the students, in Korean culture, there is a lot of social pressure that restricts them from sharing their opinions and ideas in front of the class. With Poll Everywhere, the students were able to express themselves without the fear of being incorrect or making grammatical mistakes. Overcoming that initial fear with the protection of anonymity helped students speak freely in spoken form. Initially, the students felt that their opinion may result in ostracization by their peers. However, the anonymous polls and ability to see classmates’ responses showed that many students shared similar outlooks. This allowed for more engaging dialogue about complex topics, such as divorce.

The novelty of smartphone use

The survey showed that students enjoyed the use of smartphones in their class; something commonly restricted in traditional Korean university lectures. Responding through their smartphones was convenient and interactive, making the questions feel less like an assignment.

“Students overwhelmingly noted that the use of Poll Everywhere in the classroom enhanced their learning experience, allowed them to be more enthusiastic, interested, and motivated to respond in English, and generally increased their engagement in English instruction.”

In addition to improving engagement, the students felt that Poll Everywhere created a meaningful learning environment that was more interactive than reading a textbook or listening to a lecture. The act of responding to the questions on their phones gave them time to look up words in their dictionary and build thoughtful sentences that they otherwise could not do if asked to respond on the spot. This helped improve their retention and practice of the English language.

Poll Everywhere for language learning

According to the study, “Korean university students respond positively to Poll Everywhere integration that allowed for enhanced engagement in English conversation classes…[and] technology integration in the classroom has been lauded specifically for its ability to increase student engagement if meaningfully implemented.” So how can you implement Poll Everywhere in your language class? Here are some tips:

  • Ask true or false questions in between lessons to review topics such as grammar and syntax. For example: The following statement uses the proper tense – Stacy eated many cookies at the holiday party. True or False?
  • Quiz your students on new vocabulary words with a friendly competition.
  • Present common scenarios and ask your students to share how they would respond in that situation using an open-response poll. For example: A stranger asks you for directions to the nearest market. Write what you would say in this situation. 
  • Review vocabulary terms with a clickable image poll. For example: Which of these images depict a library?
  • Improve accessibility by setting the language of the activity instructions to match the primary language of the audience.

Personalize your lessons to improve student engagement

Ensure your students stay engaged by catering lessons to their needs and collecting authentic feedback. Use Poll Everywhere at the end of every week to gather anonymous questions and concerns your students may have. Spend the first few minutes of the following class reviewing challenging material and addressing any concerns. This will ensure that your students are getting the most out of every lesson.