Teach English in Baishi Zhen - Xiangtan Shi

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I love flashcards. Honestly, I really do. For me, they are a never-ending source of games and activities. Nowadays I work as an ESL teacher in a training center and I teach mostly young learners (students from 3 to 8 years old) and I am strongly convinced that this age group may learn a foreign language only through games, entertaining activities and live communication. Therefore, I am trying to be creative and use plenty of teaching aids and props, such as IWB, OHP, whiteboard, course books, board games, balls, balloons, hoops, various arts and crafts, etc. However, I find that using flashcards is a simple yet one of the most effective tools to increase my student’s vocabulary. And here are some of my favorite games: 1. Whisper race This game is good to review vocabulary learned in a previous class or to practice new words. Split students into two teams (if the group is less than 8-10 students, it is better to play with the whole group. In this case, the game loses its competitive element, but it is still a lot of fun for kids). Stand students one after another in two parallel lines. Whisper a word to the last students standing in lines; they must whisper it forward to the next student and so on until the first student standing in either of the two lines. The student in front grabs a hammer, runs to the flashcards and hits the right word. If he hits the right card, his team can get one point. Then the front students go to the end of the lines and the game continues. 2. Seat swap This game is good to review the vocabulary the class has learned before. Get your students seated in a big circle and give each one a flashcard (the flashcards must be different and unique). The teacher stands in the middle of the circle also holding a flashcard. When students are ready, call out two different flashcard words. The two students holding these words have to stand up and switch places. Keep calling out two words several times until all the kids get the idea that they have to switch sits. On the 5-6th go, the teacher quickly sits down in one of the empty chairs, leaving one student standing in the middle. Now, this student must call out two cards and try to quickly take the vacant spot while two students are moving. 3. What is missing? This game is undoubtedly one of my students’ favorite. And it is especially good to practice new vocabulary. Pre-teach new words with the students until you feel that they can recall nearly or all of the flashcards. Then the teacher leaves the classroom and counts from 1 to 10 standing behind the door. During this time, one of the students appointed by the teacher must hide one card. When the teacher comes back, students ask all together “What is missing?” The teacher defines the missing flashcard and tries to find it in the room. When the students see that the teacher is looking far from the hidden flashcard, they have to whisper the missing word very quietly. The closer the teacher gets to the flashcard, the louder students have to say the word. After the flashcard is found and students got the idea of the game, the teacher may ask one or two students to go out of the classroom and then try to find the missing flashcard. 4. Paper Cup Tower The objective of this game is to build a high tower with flashcards and paper cups. This game is especially good to practice recognition of the new words. Give each student one flashcard and one paper cup. Put one paper cup on the floor or on the table and then say a word that one of the students has. The student must recognize the word and repeat it or use in a sentence. After that, the student takes the flashcard and puts it on top of the paper cup and then puts another paper cup carefully to keep the balance and not let the tower to fall down. Keep going getting the tower higher and higher until it finally falls over. If students enjoy, you can play the game several more times. 5. Musical Chairs You can easily adjust this classic party game and use it in the classroom to review vocabulary. However, take into account that this game is suitable for classes around 10 students or less. Put students’ chairs in a circle and remove one chair. Play fun music and ask students to walk around the chairs. After the music stops they need to take a sit. The one who is left without a chair has to read all the cards that the teacher is showing to him or say one word and use it in a sentence. Keep going until only one student remains. He or she is the winner. As far as you can see, there are many flashcards exciting games that may help students to master the vocabulary faster. But there is one important thing that every good teacher should keep in mind. Any game or activity should be challenging for students. They cannot enjoy playing the same games for a long time. They quickly learn the rules and lose interest in games. Therefore a teacher must gradually make the rules of the old games more complicated, which will help to keep the students’ interested in the game. And of course, a good teacher must be in constant search of new games and activities to make lessons productive, enjoyable and entertaining.