Flashcard Games for ESL Classrooms
Most of the teachers in my school would say that the purpose of flashcards is to simply introduce grammar points, concepts, review vocabulary; and most likely, they would mention the joylessness of flashcards when teaching unmotivated students. In truth, flashcards are known for being one of the most boring ways to study. Nevertheless, there are reasons why teachers still choose flashcards for conducting lessons. Russian people say: âRepetition is a mother of learning.â I can not argue with the Russians. Indeed, repetition is crucial, but it often changes the mood of the classroom to "boring." Normally, it happens when the activities with flashcards are poorly organized, or when there are no other activities except for regular ones that were used for many years. Hence, jumbling regular activities with special ones will create more interest and efficiency in the learning process. And I would like to describe some of the activities which can help when using flashcards.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Omurbek Z. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The first activity is all about matching, it is the simplest activity you can organize with flashcards. This kind of activity is known for flipping through vocabulary decks as students try to find the right word with a translation, letters, sounds, grammar points, etc. Usually, I use websites like "www.playfactile" and "jeopardylabs" to make the process of learning, reviewing fun, and effective. When using the websites above, students are more interested and active because the platform keeps score, and users may have buzzer modes where they add and take points, and put challenges. Many schools have projectors and computers, and if you have those two, jeopardy or flip quiz would be the best activity after going through flashcards, some teachers even make a digital version of their flashcards.
These days, the market is focused on young learners; a big number of teachers are educating primary school kids or even younger ones. It was hard for me to find some easy games that were adapted for young learners, but I succeeded by observing the class of another teacher. The second activity is used in classes with young learners. Five-seven-year-old kids in most Asian countries study basic vocabulary and sound-letters, the activity called "Word Soup" can give an enjoyable time to those kids. The teacher prints out letters and puts them in a bowl, he divides flashcards by their beginning letters, depending on the size of the classroom he puts the bowl with letters as far as possible from the bowl. Students are divided into two teams, they line up and on the command of the teacher students from both teams draw a letter from the bowl and then find the flashcards which match the letter. Team with the higher number of flashcards wins. This activity allows teachers to analyze and elicit the knowledge that has been gained.
Also Read: "Personal Qualities of Amazing ESL Teachers"
Combining words is necessary for students who are familiar with letters and sounds, basic vocabulary.
Teachers use passages, texts from the book, which is a bit of a boring task for unmotivated ones, so here is the third activity which might help, it is called "Combine it." You may use it when teaching nouns and adjectives. You can use the hard copy of flashcards or digital version. It is easier with a digital version. Stick the flashcards with nouns on one side of the board and flashcards with adjectives on the other side. Each student comes and tries to combine "Beautiful" - "Flower", " Red "- " Apple", etc. This activity helps in the process of memorization.
There are occasions when students are tired after the long class but there is still a need for a review activity. If that was my case, I would probably use the activity called "Flashcard Taboo." A teacher describes the words from the flashcards and students guess. A teacher can reward most active students with candies that have to be prepared earlier. Activity number four is good for improving the students' understanding.
Usually, students learn how to pronounce first when teaching basic vocabulary. But spelling is another challenge for both native and non-native students, and if you are willing to erase part of the challenge and make it fun, then the fifth activity will help you out. Put cards around the room, several rooms, or even a building, if the location and the size of a building are suitable. After, ask students to take out their notebooks and let them walk around the room and find cards to write on their notebook. Students who are first to finish the task can be awarded. This activity can help them in improving their spelling skills if repeated frequently.
As you may see, there are some interesting activities with flashcards which could be a good part of the lesson. Moreover, those activities serve as memory testers, drilling tools, spelling tools. Activities with flashcards can be fun and useful at the same time, and they are the necessary part of the lesson in most cases like mine.
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