Research Article

Online Vocabulary Tasks for Engaging and Motivating EFL College Students in Distance Learning During the Pandemic and Post-pandemic



Vocabulary teaching and learning constitute a major problem for EFL instructors and students. EFL freshman students have difficulty in pronouncing, recognizing the meaning of, using and spelling new English words. Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, all college courses have shifted to online distance learning since March 2020. Surveys with samples of college students and instructors in Saudi Arabia showed lack of interest among the students in online instruction, participation, giving oral presentations, doing homework-assignments, attending online classes, low engagement, interaction, communication and self-efficacy. No adaptations have been made in the college curricula. Since the new distance learning environment requires new modes of teaching and learning, the present study proposes a variety of online vocabulary tasks and technologies that vocabulary instructors can choose from, such as mobile-based applications viz Vocup, Quizlet, Quizizz, game-based mobile apps, Saving Alice, Duolingo, Kahoot, vocabulary flashcards, mobile audiobooks, collaborative mobile ebook reading; podcasts; online dictionaries; concordance-based glosses; picture viewing and picture drawing on tablets; videos; e-portfolios; teaching idioms via graphic novels; multimedia annotations; social networks; project-based learning and mind-maps. To engage, motivate and encourage student-student and student-instructor interaction in the distance learning environment, the study proposes the following: using WhatsApp, ConnectYard, creating a community of inquiry, creating learning partnership, collaborative writing exchange projects, student collaboration, social interaction, integrating text-chat and webcam, and utilizing technology-mediated task-based language teaching. Online vocabulary tasks can be performed individually, in pairs or in small groups; interactively or collaboratively; synchronously or asynchronously. Instructional phases and teacher and students’ roles are also described.

Article information


International Journal of English Language Studies

Volume (Issue)

4 (1)





How to Cite

Al-Jarf, R. (2022). Online Vocabulary Tasks for Engaging and Motivating EFL College Students in Distance Learning During the Pandemic and Post-pandemic. International Journal of English Language Studies, 4(1), 14–24.



Online tasks, online activities, mobile apps, vocabulary tasks, Vocabulary pedagogy, distance learning, Covid-19 Pandemic, EFL college students, student motivation, student engagement.