Teach English in Qingquan Zhen - Huanggang Shi

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Effective teachers know that it is important to provide multiple ways for students to engage with the lesson, skill, or objective. To learn another language, in this case English, there needs to be a balance of skill and drill, practical practice, and learning through play. Flashcards are a tool that allows for all three types of learning while appealing to various learning preferences. Although there are countless ways in which to incorporate flashcards into lessons, the following five ways illustrate how they can be used for vocabulary building, review, play, and practical practice. The first way that flashcards can be used in an English Language Learning classroom is the most traditional way: Introducing and reviewing new vocabulary. It is important to help students build their vocabulary. This method of flashcard use is a good way to introduce new vocabulary words. Hold up a large flashcard with a picture of an object on it. One can elicit responses from students as to what English word the picture/object is. If students know the correct word, move on to the next step. If students are not able to guess the correct word, provide clues and eventually provide the word. This same idea of creating flashcards can be used for grammar/punctuation skills as well. Studies have shown that when a student writes, it helps to transfer that knowledge to his or her long term memory. To help students with this, have each student write the new vocabulary word on the one side of the card. Students may add a hand drawn picture if they like. On the backside of the flashcard, students should add a definition, part of speech and example sentence. Pronunciation can also be added to the card. For grammar or punctuation skills, this could be as simple as writing comma rules on the front of the cars. On the back, they can write the most common rules for using a comma. Having students create their flashcards is a helpful way for learning new words or skills. In addition to introducing new vocabulary, flashcards can be used for drilling. If each student has his/her own set of vocabulary flashcards, they can practice/review on their own outside of class making them useful for studying before tests or to prepare for class. Students can also be broken into pairs or small groups to drill each other on vocabulary or grammar terms. A teacher can also drill as a whole class. One way to incorporate different learning styles into drilling is to make the activity more tactile. To do this, put the cards on the board and review them one by one, practicing pronunciation by having the whole class repeat each word. Then the teacher can call a volunteer up to the front of the class. The teacher says a word and has the student take the card off of the board and hand it to the teacher. If they choose the incorrect card, take a moment to go over the vocabulary words again before thanking that students and choosing another volunteer. This allows student movement as well as the act of them physically picking up the card. A teacher could use this same drill with a small group of students who are struggling with correct pronunciation. A third way of using flashcards in the classroom is to hold a Pronunciation Bee. This is similar to a Spelling Bee. Students line up and one at a time are shown a flashcard with a word printed on it. The student pronounces the word. If he or she correctly says the word, the student remains in the game. If a student incorrectly says the word, they are out and this can be a teaching moment by the teacher providing the correct pronunciation and having the class repeat it. The Bee keeps going until there is only one student left or all words have been used. Flashcards can also be used for storytelling. This activity is best for small groups of 4 to 6 students. Have students sit in circles or put their desks together. Give each group a pile of flashcards made up of images of vocabulary words from various categories that the class has been studying. Have a student draw a card from the stack. The student needs to make up a sentence using the image on the card. Then the next student draws a card and continues the story. Repeat this with each student in the group until they are out of cards. To make this a competitive game, a student can receive a point for creating a sentence that correctly uses the image. If a student incorrectly uses the image, the card goes back into the deck. The student who has the most cards at the end wins. This activity can also be modified to include a writing component if desired and student proficiency allows. Have the first student write his/her sentence down on a sheet of paper. The paper is then passed to the next student who then writes the next sentence and so on until the end of the game. Although there are multiple other ways in which to incorporate flashcards activities into the classroom, the final way discussed here is a memory matching game. This game can be played in pairs or small groups. Flashcards need to have either a picture or a word on one side. Half of the flashcards have a word on them and the other half have a corresponding picture. Cards are laid out upside down and students take turns turning two cards over trying to match the picture with its word. Students continue matching pairs until all cards are matched. This can also be done with grammar rules. Flashcards are an inexpensive means of helping students learn and retain vocabulary and grammar rules. They work with all class sizes from one student to many, allow for individual or group study, and can provide a variety of learning styles.