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How to Make Good use of Flashcards in the ESL Classroom

How to Make Good use of Flashcards in the ESL Classroom | ITTT | TEFL Blog

I have been learning English my whole life and I have been teaching the language for the last nine years in three different countries, and in both roles (student and teacher) flashcards have been part of my learning and lessons; in fact, almost in every lesson. Most of the teachers and students with whom I have used these resources to work vocabulary and create different routines to learn and drill it, have really enjoyed it.

It goes further than showing a picture and repeating the words which the teacher says: using flashcards opens up a wide world of possibilities to put into practice in our lessons. They can be games, drills, memory activities… It allows us to work either individually, in small groups, or with the big group. Furthermore, we can use them for any of our lessons or concepts.

Also, the use of flashcards does not need anything special or specific knowledge, we just need to print them, and sometimes cut them to share them up amongst our students.

I am going to introduce five different activities using flashcards in our English lessons. They could be adapted to any kind of content and they can be used to work individually, in small groups, or in a big group. I will talk about body parts for young English learners.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Pablo M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.

Spin around

This activity will be done with the whole class. Our students will stand up one next to each other making a circle. We will choose one of our students to stand in front of another one. We will show one of the flashcards and the first one to say what it represents will face the next person (clockwise). They should finish the whole circle to go back to their initial position.

This could be done also in small groups. Each group will have a set of flashcards and they will be facing down. One of them will turn over one of the flashcards and the first one to say what it represents will keep it. The students that get the most correct answer will be the winner.

children play

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We will have two sets of flashcards, one showing a picture and another one with the spelling of the words. Students can work individually or in pairs. They will disorganize all their flashcards and put them face down on their desks. One of them will turn up two of the flashcards if a word and a picture match the student will keep them if they do not match they will turn them over again. The student to get the largest amount of flashcards will win.


This activity can be done with the whole group or our students can organize themselves in small groups. We will show one of the word cards and our students will have to show or point to the part of the body that the word represents.

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Our students will be the ones to design their flashcards. We will say one of the words aloud and they have to draw it on a piece of paper and write the word down below the picture.

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Musical Circle Pass

Our students will sit one next to each other making a circle. We will give a flashcard to random students that are not sitting next to each other. We will play music and they will pass the flashcard to a classmate (clockwise). We will stop the music and those students with a flashcard will stand up and they will have to say aloud what the picture represents.

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