A flashcard is to an ESL teacher is like the Batmobile to Batman—no ESL teacher I know would be without them!
I think the core of their popularity is largely due to the teacher/student language barriers inherent in ESL education, especially when working with beginners or younger students. A flashcard of an apple portrays an apple in any language: the word may be different but the meaning is understood. An apple in England isn’t a robot in China. That being said, a girl in Thailand sometimes isn’t what a girl would be elsewhere, but that’s not for now…
Flashcards can also be used for a variety of purposes: to introduce new vocabulary, for kinesthetic activities, speaking cues, auditory activities, and much more. What one can do with flashcards is potentially limitless, so what a great prop to start my mini-series, “TEFL Tips”, with…
Activity – Where is the _____? – (Listening/ speaking)
Age – Pre-K, K, primary
Level – Beginner
This is an easy one. It’s great for teaching new vocabulary and children have loads of fun playing it. It’s basically like that game you see novice magicians do at kids’ parties using 3 cups and a pea.
You start by teaching three new flashcards (preferably of related objects). You then turn all 3 over and move them around. When you have stopped, ask the students, “Where is the ____?” The student whose turn it is, then has to say the name of the flashcard he/she has turned over. If he/she has picked the wrong card, then they continue until they select the correct one.
As the game progresses you can start by asking the students if they want you to move the flashcards faster or slower. This normally encourages them to speak, and you are bombarded by screams of, “Teacher, me really really fast!”
So, in addition to learning the vocabularies on the flashcards, the students are using English in a more natural setting and communicating with you.
Just like the Daleks keep popping up throughout series’ of Doctor Who, I’m sure I’ll write many more tips for flashcard use in the future.
Thank you for checking this out!