Sunday, March 4, 2012

How to use flashcards in the classroom

You can't overestimate the importance of using flashcards* in the classroom, especially in the first cycle. 

First of all, they let you avoid using the mother tongue to translate. You show the image and the kids know immediately what the new word means. Secondly, children love pictures, posters and other visual aids, so if you use flashcards properly, it will guarantee you their undivided attention, which will result in faster and effective learning.

Also, the key to success is INVOLVE the kids in the process of learning. So...don't keep the flashcards to yourself! Let your students play with them, touch them and look at them closely. Apart from the flashcards, I always add wordcards. Luckily, the publishing houses have discovered that method, too, so next year when we change the coursebook, there is a good chance I won't have to prepare them anymore.

Enough with theory and let's get down to some practice.

STAGE ONE: Introducing new vocabulary

- Traditional way: show the flashcards to the kids and attach them to the board. Then, put the corresponding wordcard next to them.
More ideas to break the routine: Let the kids guess what the objects are by revealing the picture slowly, uncovering it step by step. You can also use this method for revisions.

STAGE TWO: Practice

 -Traditional way: Leave the flashcards as they were and mix up the wordcards (or you can do it the other way round). Individual students have to come to the board and match the words with the pictures again. 

Variation: Instead of moving the wordcards, they can also match them by drawing a line.

More ideas to break the routine: Play a ''what's missing'' game. Tell your pupils to close their eyes. When they are ready, remove one flashcard or wordcard (or both). The first person to guess what the missing word or picture is, wins. After two or three times, you may invite one of the students to take off the word/picture they want. I use the following commands for this game:
one, two, three....close your eyes!
one, two, three... open your eyes! Look at the board. What's missing?

Idea 2: Invite some students to come to the front of the classroom. Ss form a circle. Play some music and pass the flascards. Students have to keep passing the flashcards until the music stops. Then, they have to name the objects on their flashcards. If they don't know them, they have to leave the circle. Student who last leaves the circle, wins.

Idea 3: Play a memory game on the board. Display the flashcards and the wordcards with their faces down. Children  have to uncover the cards and they get a point if the uncovered picture matches the word.
STAGE THREE: Production 

- Traditional way: Slowly, take off the wordcards and ask children to name the pictures on the flashcards. When you finish, ask the kids if they can name all the objects. Help, if necessary.

More ideas to break the routine: Kids prepare their own flashcards. Then, they play with them in pairs. Person A says: What's this? Person B says the word. The one who guesses more words, wins.
Idea 2: Take off all the wordcards. In their notebooks, students have to copy the pictures and write the correct words next to them. Help out with the spelling, if necessary.

There are of course more ideas you can employ while using flashcards, the sky is the limit! Now, if you don't have enough flashcards that come with your book or you want to extend the vocabulary you teach, have a look at these three websites that have a lot of flashcards ready-to-use:

* by ''flashcards'' we understand here a set of cards with pictures on them.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. u hav done a great job

    i really appreciate u r views

    i too have learned many things from this

    thank u

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