Using Flashcards for Fun & Visual Learning

screenshot-www.mes-english.com 2015-03-12 06-55-47

If I had to pick only 1 teaching tool to bring into the classroom, it would be flashcards. Over the years I have drawn, printed, laminated, and used hundreds of flashcards. Versatile, durable, visual, and super affordable — flashcards are a must for every Early-Learner and ESL teacher.

Here’s why:

  • Kids go bananas for them! (2-12 years old) Pictures! With colors! Cute!!!! What’s not to love?
  • Easy to use. This is an obvious one but it’s too true to leave out. Flashcards don’t take any set up time at all and can be used regardless of the class size, nationality, or age. screenshot-www.mes-english.com 2015-03-12 06-51-11
  • Reusable and durable. Even with large classes of rowdy kids and, unlike worksheets, arts and craft items, or toys, flashcards can be used again and again without taking damage. That is, if you laminate them first 🙂
  • Visual learning. This one is important for teaching ESL. Language barriers can often make teaching new lexis a chore but with flashcards, it’s easy for both you and students to be on the same page with what a word means.
  • Versatile and great for games. Definitely one of the biggest advantages of flashcards! The list of games that can be played with a single set of flashcards are endless, but just to give you an idea of how fun flashcards can be, I’ve included some of my favorite flashcard games below.
  • Easy intro to sight-reading. Flashcards don’t have to be only pictures. Try to include the written word above the picture or on the back of each card. This also lends well to games and adds an extra challenge for fast learners.
  • Built-in review system. Revision is essential with young learners and should be incorporated into your lesson plan everyday. Flashcards provide a fun and fast way to review last week’s lesson or previously-taught words. Run through a quick 5 minute game or use one of the games below. If you can combine it together with a movement activity – double win!
  • Expands into more language. A pineapple is not just a pineapple – it’s a green and yellow pineapple! With spikes! How does it taste? Sweet but a little sour! Where does it grow? On a tree? Gotcha! – pineapples grow on the ground, usually only in warm countries.

Resources/Websites for Free Flashcards

There are other good websites out there but this one will cover almost all your flashcard needs. They also offer handouts, different sizes, black and white version, great game ideas, worksheets, bingo cards, dice, board games, you name it… this website is TESOL heaven.
In case you need more options, these websites are also gems.
screenshot-www.mes-english.com 2015-03-12 06-56-31


Flashcards games

Even as a teacher, I have a hard time explaining a game through only words. Demonstration is always the best practice but impossible in this situation, however, if anything is unclear or the game isn’t working for you, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (teslbug@gmail.com) and I’ll happily answer any questions.

Stand / Sit
A fun and active game for the entire class. Tt stands on one end of the classroom facing the Ss who are standing (shortest in the front). Tt chests a flashcard quickly saying the word – if the word matches the picutre, Ss stay standing. If the word doesn’t match, all Ss must sit down FAST. Continue through the list of flashcards, eliminating any Ss who stand/sit at the wrong time.
This is a fun game that is fast-paced, active, suspenseful, and shows who knows the vocab and who doesn’t. Try to pick up the pace as you go, it works best if you hold the flashcards in a stack and just flip through.

Flipping Flashcards
This is super simple and fun. Divide the class into 2 teams for extra competitiveness, then quickly flash the Ss a quick glimpse of the card. No explanation or preparation necessary – just flip the flashcard fast and the first student to raise their hand and call out the word gets to hold the card. When you reach the end of the stack, have the Ss hold up their cards and announce the winning team.

Sliding Flashcards
Similar to Flipping Flashcards, except you sloowwwwly reveal the flashcard bit by bit using another card to cover. This will encourage the Ss to think, guess, and rack their brain for all their vocabulary while calling out their guesses. To make this more challenging, use a mix of catagories and slip a few untaught cards in the pile.

This a variation of charades that allows for large groups to participate at the same time, keeping everyone involved. Divscreenshot-www.mes-english.com 2015-03-12 06-56-14ide the class into 1-3 teams and bring 1 person from each team (we’ll call this person the ‘player’) to stand at the front of the class, facing their team. Instruct the students that there is strictly no speaking allowed (be very clear on this – demonstrate!), threaten to deduct points from any team caught cheating, they must demonstrate the word/sentence through actions only. Show the teams the vocabulary word or target sentence (note: this game is for reinforcement or revision – not for introducing new vocabulary) and have them act it out for their ‘player’ to guess. The ‘player’ calls out the word or sentence they think their team is demonstrating. The first ‘player’ to guess correctly, wins 1 point for their team. Optional: Bonus points may be awarded if the player can spell the word correctly.
Send the ‘player’ back to his seat and select a new one – try to give everyone the chance to be the player.

Slap / Snatch (10 students max – can also be played in teams)
Have the students sit in a circle, place the flashcards or words (I often just print and cut up the words) in the middle. Instruct the students to sit neatly with their hands on their knees. When you call out a word, each student tries to quickly snatch up the word spoken – slapping the word can work also to avoid disputes. Make it more interesting by calling out a random word not in the pile, you can also test the students’ listening skills by mispronouncing a word and seeing if they hear the difference.
The student holding the most words at the end of the game is the winner. Note: You can use sentences for more advanced students. This is a good way to intro vocab for a reading/listening exercise.

Bring me…
Scattescreenshot-www.mes-english.com 2015-03-12 06-52-22r words or flashcards around the room. Divide the class into teams – all of them touching a wall or a whiteboard so they can’t cheat. Call out a word or sentence using one of the target words, the students scramble to find the word and bring it to you. The first to do so wins a point for their team. Play until all the words are found. Add up and declare the winner.

Lee’s Memory
Test your students’ memory skills with this Students vrs. Teacher game. Line up all the flashcards on the board or the floor and give them a minute to memorize the flashcards. Then turn them all over, point to a certain one and ask ‘What is this?’ All the students must agree and call out the answer 3 times – listen for pronunciation and drill the word if necessary. Then reveal the card, if they students are correct, it is 1 point for them and the card is removed from the list. If they are wrong, turn the card over again and award yourself 1 point.
This game is good for team-building and encourages all the students to work together to ‘beat the teacher’. It also gives them extra incentive to memorize all the target words and pronounce them clearly.

To keep this post from getting too much longer, I’ll cut my list off here but please feel free to add your favorite flashcard games to the comments below. Thanks for taking the time to read this super lengthy piece and have fun using flashcards in your classroom!

teslbugpv (3)http---signatures.mylivesignature.com-54492-351-CD3A73DE1CE010067919357FA6AC1F89


Ten Common Mistakes ESL Teachers Make in the Classroom (And How to Fix Them)

This is a must read for both new and experienced teachers. None of us like to admit mistakes but we all make them – I love how simply and clearly these common mistakes and solutions are presented in this article. Worth the time to read!!

So, You Think You Can Teach ESL?

Nobody is perfect. That’s the truth. It’s the same for doctors, lawyers, parents, students, and teachers. Nobody likes making mistakes. Big or small, mistakes can kill self-esteem, loom over our heads like some grim reaper created out of our own idiocy. In a classroom, teachers often make mistakes early on in their careers; veteran teachers make mistakes, too.


What mistakes do ESL teachers make?

ESL teachers tend to frequently make mistakes throughout their first year. The inadequate training of some programs, lack of preparation, and general inexperience all contribute to these mistakes. They’re fairly common, so don’t feel bad. I made numerous mistakes my first year teaching, and I still make mistakes from time to time.

Here are ten common mistakes ESL teachers make (taken from both BusyTeacher, and ABCfrog).


1.Too much “Teacher Talk Time” – This is a very common mistake teachers make. The teacher might…

View original post 1,740 more words



Super cute idea for teaching Fruits to young learners. Fantastic lesson plan complete with games, songs, and video! 🙂

Laia's TEFL corner

In most school there are campaigns to promote eating fruit as an alternative to junk food as snacks during break time. Therefore, I thought it would be very useful to choose the fruits topic as the centre of interest in one of my didactic units. This way, my pupils can see that besides being healthy fruits can also provide fun!

Next, I’m going to share with you all the resources I use for the “I like fruits!” didactic unit. As always, I like using flashcards, songs, stories, games, worksheets and short conversations.

These are the flashcards I use to play some TPR games so they get familiar with the vocabulary they are going to see during the following lessons. I chose these 10 fruits because most of them are the ones that they can see in the song and stories. They love being able to recognise words when we…

View original post 387 more words


Hooked on Phonics: Strategies for Teaching Phonics to Young Learners

Phonics are a HUGE part of TESL but unfortunately, it often gets sidelined in favor of “more important” skills like conversation or grammar. Teaching children how to read properly at a young age gives them a head-start towards being able to read English.

So, You Think You Can Teach ESL?


Phonics, the sounds and letters that make up language, is one of the main methods of developing children’s reading skills.  Phonics uses a “part-whole” concept to teach the pronunciation of words, as opposed to the “whole language” method of recognizing entire words. For example, a child will learn the “-at” sound, and then add consonants to it to form words like “cat, bat, hat, rat, fat”.

Phonics helps learners of a new language break words down into individual syllables, improving accuracy in pronunciation. Teaching phonics shows the relationship between letters and sounds, and helps children develop pronunciation skills.

Strategies for teaching phonics930

Phonics can be a fun subject to teach for young learners! There are all kinds of games, songs, videos, and other activities to help children develop their phonemic awareness skills. One way is to use visual representations of letters (the alphabet). Young learners need to first learn…

View original post 420 more words


How can we make learning English more fun?

Always room for new ideas on how to make teaching fun!

We Were Meant to be Teachers!

As many of my blog followers know, I am blessed to be part of the Education First organization.  I have just completed a rather short program for children from China.  That’s why I haven’t updated my blog for the past two weeks.  Anyhow, I loved it and I hope they did, too.

I just saw this video on someone else’s blog and thought it showed some really good ideas to use in your classroom now.  Maybe the techniques can be used with some children with learning disabilities, too. Enjoy!


P.S.  I’d love to have more followers of my blog.  Please share my blog with your co-workers so that I can learn from them and share their ideas with others.  Thank you.

View original post


Start of the year team-building activities for the classroom

Fantastic article with tons of great ideas and tips for breaking the ice with new classes!

Teaching the Teacher

Go Team! Image used under creative commons licence

With the start of the year winding down I thought I would share with you some icebreaker activities I’ve done with my class to help build a sense of team this year.

Human bingo

Like bingo but instead alongside content questions e.g knows their 8 times tables backwards you can add in things like ‘went to the beach in summer holidays.

The human knot 

I find having a length of ribbon stops the ‘eww  I don’t want hold this person’s hand.’ Students stand in a circle shoulder to shoulder.  Have them put their right hand into the middle holding a ribbon. The kids then find another person’s ribbon across the circle to hold on to. You need to make sure that the kids are holding the hands of different people. Then the kids have to make a circle without releasing the ribbons. This activity…

View original post 261 more words


The Importance of Motivation

Very important topic that applies to every teacher in every grade – interesting read too.


In this week’s post we’re going to examine the role motivation has in language learning.  I’ve been thinking about this topic as I always hear teachers say, “What can you do with a student who doesn’t want to talk?”  I think this can be a very frustrating answer for a lot of teachers.  It’s one that I still don’t have a good answer for, so I wanted to find tips and advice for motivating students to speak more.  With that in mind, I want to first touch on what motivation is and why we want it in the class.  Simply put, motivation is why we want to learn English.  Motivation can be something internal and very personal to us, such as wanting to take a trip to the United States, wanting a job in a foreign company, wanting to meet foreign friends and so on.  Motivation can also be external. …

View original post 693 more words