Instant Lessons – The (Pub) Quiz lesson


Here’s another class that needs no preparation or materials to run, just a bit of showmanship and some paper.

1. Explain the idea of the quiz in your country (in my case, the pub quiz in the UK). You might like to borrow my annecdote about my dad, which is half true. ‘Every Tuesday night my dad, who’s seventy two, goes down to the local pub/cafe to do the quiz with his friends. There are three of them, all over seventy and they’ll all very serious about winning. My dad goes into the pub/cafe and pays his one pound/dollar to get a quiz sheet and then joins his pals to listen the questions. The quizmaster stands up and taps his microphone, ‘right then,’ he says, ‘Question 1: which is the longest river in the world?’ ‘Question 2: How many people live in the African country Sudan?’ At this point my dad politely explains that he has to go to the toilet [now walk across the class room and very slowly take your mobile phone/hand in the shape of a phone out of your pocket] ‘Hiya [your name] I’m in the quiz and we’ve got a question, would you mind getting on the computer and finding out a few answers for me?’ He does that to m every Tuesday night.

2. Now pass out some slips of paper and tell students they are going to have a pub quiz and that they are going to write two questions each. The number of questions very much depends on how many students you have and how good they are. In a class of ten who are pre-intermediate, I’d ask them  to write three each. Ask students to write the numbers 1-30 on their paper. Tell student 1 he/she is writing questions 1-3, the next students 4-6, the next 7-9 and so on. This would give you 30 questions to ask and answer.

3. While students are writing their questions you must help them or the game will not work. Explain that students must not ask a question that is too difficult like ‘briefly explain relativity’ or ‘What colour are my grandfather’s eyes?’. Similarly they shouldn’t ask questions which are too subjective like ‘ Which is the best football team in the world?’. Students should also know the answer to the question.

4. Now get students to ask their questions to the class. Students answer by writing the answers on their paper. Hopefully there will be some banter around the questions – asking for repetiton. You might need to paraphrase but let the question teller do most of the work.

5. When all the questions are done – elicit the answers and find out the winner. Stuident get free points for the questions that they wrote.

The really nice part about this lesson is the genuine communication that it produces, especially when there is cheating and uncertainty among the answers and questions. There may be petty squabbles about the longest river in the world, and you might need google to help you, but this is all part an parcel of this lesson. I usually put a tea bag into a sealed envelope and write the word ‘winner’ on it in big letters, this is the prize for the winner and I continually refer to it throughout the lesson to built up student expectation.


  1. I did this lesson again this week for about the millionth time, still works well, there was a lot of fighting about the right answer as always and some great, genuine communication between students

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