It’s Flashcard Friday again, and this week we have a guest post from the inspirational Shelly Terrell. This year Shelly has been travelling the world sharing and picking up ideas from teachers in countries like Thailand, France, and Japan! Shelly is an expert in teaching young learners, and we know she’ll have some great ideas for you about using flashcards. Be sure to join her FREE webinar on Flashcard Fun today. If you can’t make it to the live event, you can view the live binder for all of the resources! ~Tara
10+ Ideas and Resources for using Flashcards in the Language Classroom
Language learners often struggle with acquiring new vocabulary and teachers often use flashcards to help them learn long lists of words. However, just memorizing a word and its definition is one of the least effective ways to learn vocabulary. The learner will soon forget the word or often use the word incorrectly. We can support learners in using flashcards to visualize the meaning of words through games and activities. The following tips and resources will help you engage your students with flashcards.
Games are great ways to review the definitions of words or assess learners. You can use a deck of flashcards to play common games, such as Charades, Taboo, Bingo, and Win, Lose, or Draw. Below are a few more games using flashcards. Try these games instead of a quiz.
- Card Collector Have your students line up at one end of the room and at the other end of the room throw your flashcards in a pile. You will need a whistle. Tell your students you will name a category and when you blow the whistle they must run to the end of the room and search for the words that fit that category. Whoever collects the most cards at the end of the game wins. Your category choices depend on the vocabulary you are reviewing. For example, if you are reviewing clothing you might say, “Find clothing you would wear during the winter.” Make sure to have the students tell you the reasoning behind their choices or give specific examples so that they visualize the context.
- Who am I? Put your flashcards in a deck. Have each student choose a card without looking at it. After choosing the card, the student places the card on his forehead. No one is allowed to tell the student the word or picture on the card. When you signal, the students walk around and ask a variety of questions to find out who or what is on the flashcard.
- Chain Story Put your students in a circle. Give each of them 10 beans. The first student draws a card from the deck and must use this word to begin a story. The second student draws a card and continues the story with the chosen word and so on till all the vocabulary words are used. If a student uses the word incorrectly, that student looses a bean. Those who end up with the most beans at the end of the game win.
- Let Me Tell You Your Fortune Divide students into pairs. Student A draws 5 cards from the deck and places them down in front of student B. Student B must invent student’s A fortune using these 5 words. Then they switch. Try giving the teams play money. For every word correctly used in a fortune the fortune-teller gets paid.
- Noah’s Ark This game is adapted from the original game by Jason Renshaw. You are Noah. You are asking your students for help in deciding how to categorize the animals in the ark so that all survive. Divide students into pairs. Give each pair a poster board and instruct them to draw Noah’s Ark and divide the bottom of the boat into 3 areas. Each pair takes a deck of animal cards and decides which animals will go in each room for Noah to have a successful voyage. They will have to think about each animal’s food preferences and habitats. They should write down the explanation for their choices.
- If your students journal or blog, have them draw a flashcard each day and incorporate that vocabulary word in their journal entries.
- Have students design flashcards on the computer and save them for future use.
- Have your students invent a card game for a unit’s flashcards.
- Make it a class goal to learn so many words per month. You can list new words on a word wall or place them in a blog or wiki.
Flashcard Web Tools
- The ESL Flashcard Library is full of various ready-made flashcards and related activities. You can create your own flashcard sets by choosing from our library of images. Watch the demo that was created for the Virtual Round Table conference.
- Quizlet– Students create online flashcards and can access them via their mobile devices or embed the flashcards on a blog or wiki. Play a variety of games to learn the vocabulary.
- Wordstash– Students create online flashcards and find examples of the how the word is used in magazines, journals, television, or newspapers.
What kind of fun ways do you do use flashcards? If you want to receive more of Shelly’s tips for online resources for teaching English, then subscribe!