The use of visuals with young learners is vital, and flashcards are an excellent tool with many classroom uses. Most textbooks for children come with sets of flashcards or teachers can make their own sets of cards for class.

Flashcards can be used to present, revise or test vocabulary. They can be used with single items of vocabulary, with chunks or with grammatical structures. They are easy to use, appealing to pupils and make language learning more enjoyable and memorable.

Here are some flashcard activities that can be carried out in young learner classrooms:

  • Little by Little. Use one of the flashcards (face down) or a piece of card to cover the picture on a flashcard. Slowly reveal the picture little by little encouraging the children to say what they think it might be. The first child to guess correctly can ‘win’ the flashcard if the game is competitive.
  • Flash the flashcard. Flash the card to the class or to half the class very, very quickly. Only provide the class with a quick glimpse of the card. See if they can describe the picture.
  • Roll a card. Show the class six flashcards then mix the cards up. Put the cards face down on the board with blue tack and number them 1-6. Children take turns rolling a dice. If the roll the number 2, they need to guess which flashcard is number 2. If they guess correctly, they win a point. The cards always remain on the board face down. The game can be carried out in teams in larger classes.
  • Read my lips. Show the class five flashcards and place them face up on the board. Mouth one of the cards and see if children can read your lips and point to the correct image.
  • Preposition cards. Place a box and a chair in the classroom. Hand out flashcards to different pupils and say, for example, “Javier, put the banana in the box” or “Chelo, put the pencil on the chair”. When the cards have been placed ask questions to different children, for example, “Carmen, is the banana under the chair?” or ask true and false questions about the location of the cards.
  • Is it a ….? Show the class eight different cards from the unit. Close eyes and without looking, pick a card and place it on your head. Open your eyes without looking at the card and ask: Is it a banana? Is it an apple? And encourage children to answer. After a couple of rounds invite children to come to the front of the class and place a card on their head. With older learners they can move on to play the game in small groups.

These are just some of the ways to make the most of flashcards in class. There are many possible variation and loads of other ways to use visuals in class. Feel free to share your ideas with us in the comments section.

You can download flashcards from Oxford courses on our demo site.

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