Teach English in Yuduo Zhen - Taizhou Shi

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When we think about teaching young students the first things that come up in our minds are flashcards, songs and funny videos. Flashcards, however, are universal teaching aids that can be easily adopted for different language levels, students’ age, topics and activities. Such materials do not require much effort from the teacher, because they can be created with ease and be used repeatedly for different purposes. One cannot deny that the use of flashcards will reduce teacher-talking time and can make activity explanation/demonstration much easier. How exactly do we create necessary flashcards for teaching teenagers and adults? The best answer is an Internet! Today, within 10 minutes we can find already made flashcards on the ESL sites (which are usually free or can be downloaded in exchange for some other teaching materials) or other teacher friendly websites. Moreover, with some basic skills in simple computer programs (e.g. Microsoft Office or Paint) teacher can create his or her own flashcards that will be most suitable for particular groups or topics. As a matter of fact, the younger students are the more funnier and more colorful the flashcards are. It has a simple explanation – such flashcards attract more attention and are more memorable, therefore, better for learning. With elder students, flashcards become more “serious” that can be explained by adults’ better concentration level. In my opinion, when we are talking about materials for adults, it is not bad to make them a bit “childish” and to make sure they are connected to the real/famous examples to activate visual memory. For example, if we are about to create our own flashcards for BE course why not to take pictures related to company’s products. I think it will have some advantages for the students. Let’s move on and think about when can you use flashcards. As it was mentioned above, such materials could be easily applied for a variety of activities, therefore, they are suitable for different stages of the lessons. Let us consider a few examples in accordance with age of the students. When we are talking about the Engage stage of the lesson, its useful to use flashcards as a visual topic presentation. There are a few examples and my favorite is an association game. We also can use them to elicit further vocabulary. With younger students we can ask them whether they like it or where have they seen objects from the flashcards. In case of specific or BE courses it would be appropriate to ask where it can be used or what can be done with the help of such objects. To move to the Study stage we can use flashcards in grammar or vocabulary learning. For example, we can point at one of the flashcards and ask our students to tell where they have used it previously, how do they usually use it and why will they use it again. For studying sentences structure, we can have flashcards of nouns and verbs for students to decide where they should be placed within the sentences (gap-fill exercises). Another idea is to use flashcards in matching activities. For BE course we can have a few flashcards related to the job positions and use previously written responsibilities to make connections between them. Another good thing about flashcards is that they can be even more easily adopter for the Active stage. Just let’s think about storytelling based on a few flashcards or advertisement construction of a particular object in groups (to describe features of the object on the flashcard). Here we can use flashcards for a group as well as a pair work. We can give previously used flashcards to students and ask them to find their “pair”, after some preparation time students can present to the group why do they think their flashcards are related. All in all, it is up to the teacher to decide when and how to use flashcards during the lesson. However, it seems important to involve as much senses during the study process as it is possible and flashcard is one of the best visual materials.