Raffle tickets in a jar for lucky draw.

One of my favorite things about teaching is getting to offer students incentives to learn. Incentives as small as stickers or a piece of candy go a long way. Positive praise and affirmation are important too. But, let’s face it. Kids want candy more than just a “good job” or high five.

My Korean students loved sticker reward charts. It works well to have students build up to a certain amount of stickers before getting a small prize, or to see who has the most amount of stickers at the end of a week, month, and/or semester. Prizes included anything from school supplies to stuffed animals to board games to more candy.

A sticker reward chart made for students in South Korea.
A sticker reward chart made by one of my former co-teachers in Korea.
You can find a number of free online sticker chart templates, or be creative and make your own. One of my former Korean co-teachers made a chart that included caricatures of us. Students loved them! If only I were as artistic as her. I usually create my own using a software program.

With my college students in Myanmar, I chose to introduce a lucky draw system. Each time a student wins in an activity, answers a hard question, or for those that show up to class on time (if lateness is an issue), I award a raffle ticket or two or three.

All tickets are combined in one jar for the entire college (I only have about 250 students), and at the end of each semester I’ll draw for prizes. These won’t be childish prizes; they’ll be something young adults would enjoy getting for their hard work, and to motivate them to work even harder.

Other teachers have overheard students talking about getting these tickets. This means it’s working. In one class I asked a winning group, “Do you think you worked well as a team in this activity?”

They answered, “Yes.”


“To get a ticket.”

Not exactly the answer I was looking for in terms of our classroom discussion. But, it was definitely an answer I enjoyed hearing. Students are genuinely excited about receiving tickets.

A lucky draw could also be done with individual classes; however, it’s easier, and makes it more of a challenge if learners know all tickets from all students go into the same jar. The more tickets they get, the better chance they have of winning. It’s a fair way to award good behavior, and it creates a friendly competition within the student body.

I have students write their names on the backs of tickets. They must keep the other, matching portion of the coupon to claim their prize if they win. If you don’t have a roll of raffle tickets around, simply have students write their names on small pieces of paper instead. It works the same way.

Many common things like this can be incorporated into your classroom as learning incentives. Offering games of chance to win prizes after achieving a certain goal makes it even more fun for students to participate. Think about activities such as a spinning a wheel, throwing darts at balloons, or hitting a bullseye to win a prize.

Having incentives in place starting with your first day of class will help motivate otherwise unmotivated students. However, don’t make getting prizes too easy, or don’t start giving out candy for everything. Students will read into this immediately, and take advantage of your system. I learned the hard way.

I’ve also realized learning English as another language isn’t usually my students’ favorite class, but it can be fun. And no matter what country you’re teaching in, students will enjoy any of these activities. What are some ideas you have for learning incentives? Please share!