Collaborative idea generation for ELT

Plinky prompts

Who brings out the best in you?

If you had the attention of the entire world for two minutes, what would you say?

Name your favourite old movie.

Does silence make you feel uncomfortable?

All of these questions were taken from, a site which is linked to wordpress and is designed to give you inspiration for your blog. Whenever you post something on wordpress, three or four questions appear on the right-hand side of the screen to suggest what you could write about next, and (I believe) these are taken from Plinky too. You can read people’s answers to the questions by visiting the site.

Wordpress prompts

Examples of WordPress prompts

What would you do with this website or these writing prompts in your classroom? You can make any assumptions you like about the context they are used in. Post your ideas in the comments below. All ideas are welcome (there are no wrong answers!)

Click here to find out the idea behind this blog.

Comments on: "Plinky prompts" (4)

  1. Thanks for pointing out this website, Sandy – I’d never heard of it, but it’s given me a couple of ideas….

    My first one is very simple – just write one of the questions on the board and tell students to discuss it with a partner for the first few minutes of the class.

    The second idea is a “Getting to Know You Better” activity:

    1. Choose twenty questions, and put ten on a handout for Student A and ten on a handout for Student B.

    2. Give out the A/B questions. Make sure students understand them.

    3. The As sit in a circle facing outwards and the Bs sit in a circle facing an A. They ask each other the questions in any order.

    4. Stop them after five minutes or so and ask what vocabulary they needed. Write interesting words / chunks / collocations etc on the board.

    5. Student A moves one chair clockwise to sit with a new Student B and they ask and answer the questions again. Every few minutes, they change partners until everyone has spoken to everyone (or you think they have had enough of the activity).

    6. When the As get back to their original partner, they tell each other what they found out about everyone they spoke to.

    7. Ask students which question they found most interesting / provoked most discussion. For homework, send them to the website to see how other people answered that question. They will need to write the question in the search box and search prompts. In the next class, they report back on how similar or different their answers were to the ones on the website.

  2. Hello Sandy,

    that’s a really cool website and I really like the ideas Steve shared.

    I’d probably use it as a ‘timefiller’.

    – Have the Qs written up on pieces of paper, folded and placed in a small pouch.
    – Ask students to pick one, unfold it, read it out and answer it to practice impromptu speech.
    – Depending on the level I’d vary the time they would be asked to talk and also the kinds of Qs they’d have to answer.

    Thanks 🙂

  3. Hi everybody,
    Great ideas so far. I was thinking about using them as prompts for free writing that can be used by fast finishers or also by the students who want to practice more writing at home and do not know what to write about. In this way we are encouraging autonomous learning. Of course, they can then share what they’ve written and we can have a discussion about it in class. As the question have been chosen by the student himself, it would most probably reflect his interests, or concerns. Feedback on grammar and vocabulary accuracy can also be provided by doing peer correction or by the teacher checking the writing.

  4. Love the ideas so far. Two things come to mind for me. One is that they simply seem like really interesting prompts for an unplugged / dogme lesson, following the students discussion and dealing with the emergent language that comes up. Secondly, they remind me of the the kinds of questions you get in a TOEFL or IELTS speaking or writing exam (but more interesting!). They could be used as a way of practicing students ability to speak / write quickly on a subject without much preparation time.

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