6 Ways to Use Flashcards to Boost the Learning Speed
Repetition is a very important part of learning. In my country (Serbia) we often use a Latin quote: "Repetitio mater studiorum est" or repetition is a Mother of learning. In my case, it was the truth for all the subjects, and especially for learning foreign languages.
Flashcards are a great tool for repetition. I like to use them in teaching. That is why I am going to present a few ways of using flashcards in teaching English.
1) CVC words flashcards for reading.
I made flashcards with CVC words and matching pictures (sun, hat, run, pot, cot, pit,...) and l laminated them. If you have students that you need to teach reading and writing this is a great activity to start with. In the beginning, you can take 5-8 cards and ask students to read them. Later on, you can add more. If your students are at the beginning level of reading, introducing CVC words is the first step for them to connect letters into the words. You will see how happy they are when they make that step happen. Repeating this activity more often gives higher chances to your students to learn the words. In a short time, they become able to read them fluently. After this, your students are ready to read longer words.
I used this technique both for teaching English as a second language and for native English speakers, at the beginning stage of reading.
2) CVC words flashcards for writing.
When you crossed that first step and taught your students to connect letters and read them as real words, your task is to teach them writing. In my experience, CVC flashcards that I used for reading stayed as a nice memory for my students. They were always feeling proud when I reminded them of flashcards because they connected it to their success in learning how to read. That is why I used them again. This time I showed them only pictures and I covered the words with my hand. They connected words to pictures before, so it was much easier for them to recall spelling. In both cases, flashcards helped me teach students reading and writing CVC words faster!
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3) For even younger learners, ages 3-5, you can use flashcards in matching games.
You can make flashcards by yourself but this time separate writing and matching pictures. In this learning activity, students need to pair up words with the picture. In the beginning, it is good to give students 6 cards, and when they become successful in this, give them more cards. It is a good way of learning because students match spelling and pictures in their minds and that is a stronger image in their minds than just letters. They tend to learn faster if we involve colorful pictures.
4) Guessing games with flashcards.
You can make flashcards that are connected to your unit. It could be animals, habitats, occupations, fruits and vegetables, colors, etc,...Students can work in pairs or groups and take turns asking questions. one student takes a flashcard and others are guessing it. This activity can be used both for younger and older students at the beginning level of learning the English language. It is interesting and it supports conversation and using vocabulary. In my experience, during this activity students are more focused on guessing and they are more open to speaking a new language! Games are always fun and they make students more relaxed while learning new words and expanding their vocabulary.
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5) "Go Fish" is a great game that can be played with flashcards.
It may seem like a simple game, but students just like to play it. You can use harder words this time, or simple CVC words, depending on what the stage of learning your students are up to. It is ideal for 4 players, but sometimes it could be more. Everybody gets 6 flashcards with just pictures, words, or both. One player asks another one: "Do you have word PLAY?" If the answer is NO, that player says: "go fishing". If the asked player had wordplay, it must give it to the first player. The point of the game is to make as many pairs of the same words. Students love this game and at the same time, it helps them be fluent in reading the words that are involved in a game.
6) The most often flashcards are used for learning sight words.
In my experience that is the fastest way of learning sight words. As everything else, first introduce your students to shorter and easier sight words (a the, do, is) and then more complex one (because, always, everybody,..). Still, this is the fastest way to teach your students to read and recognize sight words.
Flashcards should be a colorful and good size, neither too big or too small. They make learning more fun and interesting and help students learn faster.
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Most of them are suitable for younger learners, but I am sure that they can be useful even for older students. Good sides are that activities with flashcards don't last long, but repeating those activities more often makes students learn faster. That is why I like to use flashcards in my teaching!
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