Monday, August 3, 2009



1. A picture flashcard represents a particular vocabulary item that you want to introduce.
2. It can be an object, an animal, an adjective, a character, a place, an action, etc.
3. We can represent anything on a flashcard, provided there’s no ambiguity in what is represented !
4. Uses of Flashcards:
a. To teach vocabulary
b. to practise vocabulary
c. for reading and writing practice

Now, we will be discussing the uses of flashcards into more detail.


A flashcard is meant to be seen by the whole class and will be held up by the teacher. If necessary, in larger groups, the teacher may have to walk around the room to show the flashcard to the pupils.

To present vocabulary, hold up a flashcard, saying the word clearly with and without the indefinite article :

« Look. A pencil.
A pencil. »

Say the word clearly two or three times while the pupils listen.

They then repeat the word several times after you : use words and gesture to get them to repeat the word. Then, ask individual pupils to say it.

Teacher :Now say it after me.
A balloon.
Class : a pencil.
Teacher : Again
Class : a pencil
Teacher : Robin
Joseph : a pencil


All these activities can be done to practise vocabulary you’ve just taught or to reinforce it . We’re just giving some here, you can obviously devise many more !

1. Hold the flashcard asking « what is this ? » or « is this a ball ? », expecting « a balloon », « No. It’s a balloon ».

2. Hold up the flashcard and get pupils to say the word without saying anything yourself. The pupil who says the word first wins the card.

3. Hold up the flashcard but let pupils see only part of the picture and ask them to guess what it is as you remove the covering sheet little by little.

4. Put the flashcards on the board and ask pupils to point to the picture of the word you say.

5. Put the flashcards on the board and say the words for all the cards in the set except one. The pupil who says the word first wins the card.

6. The teacher names a flashcard. Pupils must do a simple mime or gesture to represent the item on the flashcard.

7. Give some cards to the pupils, and ask them to hold up their picture when they hear the right word.

8. Pupils stand in a line. Give one card to the last pupil in the line. Pupils, starting from this last one, must whisper the word up the line to the first person, who says it.


We can have word flashcards matching the picture flashcards, thus allowing you to teach the whole word and develop reading and writing skills.

Word flashcards should never be used to introduce a word for the first time. Always use the picture flashcards first and revise the vocabulary orally.

You can devise your own set of flashcards, or use the sets provided by some publishers. If you make your own set, make sure:
· the drawings are clear and unambiguous
· the cards are drawn on cardboard paper, and can’t be torn
· they are sorted out (for instance in colour groups) to be easily found : you can group them in topics (toys, animals, food,…) or code them according to your teaching sequences, or any other classification you may find suitable and useful.


Mikail said...

That's a very useful post. Congratulations. You ahve explained the process clearly. Now the challenge is to use this concept in a SITUATION. Ina communicative approach we teach in a situation.

Can you suggest how to use flash cards in a situation.

How would you use flash cards to create an activity where you can evaluate your students' needs?