Teach English in Xiangyanghu Zhen - Xianning Shi

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I currently live in China and work in a language training center. I’ve been teaching here for six months already and most of the time I organize group classes (6 to 8 kids each) with an average age level of 5 to 8 years. And judging from my humble work experience in this institution I can definitely say that flashcards tend to be the most commonly used and popular teaching tool during any of my lessons performed on the regular basis. I come across them so often during my teaching practice that I eventually decided to write my essay on this very topic. Here I’m going to count down top 5 flashcards activities that (in my humble opinion) proved to be the most popular, productive and entertaining in the average class. Before I come to my picks I would like to say couple of words about the reasons that I believe, make flashcards practically irreplaceable during the classes with younger students. It is not a surprise that children (roughly between 4 and 12 years) tend to more likely absorb the new information presented with physical and visual experience e.g. an object that one can touch, throw, tap or an attractive and fancy picture that could also remind about the cartoon or other media so popular among the younger students. So what is a typical flashcard? It is basically an ultimate flat piece of paper (carton) usually with fancy picture on it that can be easily touched, carried, thrown, stepped on, folded, hidden etc There are practically no limits to the ways of its usage in the classroom plus most of the flashcards carry sharp, clear and colorful message about a certain word or phrase. That’s why kids like them: flashcards are easy to touch, easy to recognize (and associate with the real object) and if the card is tore apart it is easy to make another one. Moreover, being incredibly thin, light and flat, flashcards are literally the easiest tool to store in the classroom) Although flashcards are incredibly colorful and easy to read teaching tools, they are really just the tools and we obviously need the activities and games to make them “work”. Below I list top 5 flashcard activities that I personally find both most productive and entertaining. (Please be advised that I don’t rank them specifically from the “good” to “the best” one but just list 5 best activities regardless their order of presenting) 1) I personally divide all flashcard activities into three subcategories: repetition, recognizing and naming ones. First activity belongs to the recognizing category. I call it a TAP GAME. Tap game as well as other repetition activities are mainly used when the kids encounter the words for the first time (but of course can also be used later on) Generally teacher says the word on the FC (Flashcard) and then has each kid repeat the word while tapping the same FC. Of course it is recommended to play this game (and other games) using different variations e.g. next time the teacher doesn’t hand the FC to each kid at a time but passes by the whole class so that every kid could tap the FC in his/her turn and say the word for it. It is simple, easy and kids are likely to take part in the game as everyone has a chance to do an active move with the hand. 2) STEP ON THE RIGHT FC. This is already a recognizing type of activity where kids need to step on the right FC among the ones lying on the floor when the teacher says the certain word. There of course can be different variations of this game, e.g. two-three kids walk/ run/jump around the lying flashcards and step on the right one on teacher’s command. It is recommended to have no more than 2-3 kids in these kinds of activities to avoid unnecessary clashes and conflicts. Dynamic game that many kids like as it involves lots of movement and has a competition factor. 3) FLASH A FLASHCARD. Extremely popular game where the teacher quickly shows the FC and the students try to name the right name for it first. (Naming type of game) It is usually fast paced therefore already fun for the kids and also has a competition factor. I personally add on couple of other extra words to the set of the ones that need to be named. These FC need to trigger the kids to do some other actions e.g. when I show a FC with a spider, kids, instead of naming it, need to stand on their chairs very fast and if I show a FC with a mouse they need to catch me. These tricks make the game more entertaining and exciting. 4) WHATS MISSING? Teacher places 5-6 FC on the floor in front of the kids. They close the eyes and teacher hides one FC. When the kids are asked to open their eyes they need to guess the FC with what word is now missing (Naming type game) The kid that is first to recognize the right word can also try to find that word and then this very kid hides another FC in the next round. 5) WIND BLOWS. Kids sit in a circle holding 1 FC each. Teacher says “Wind blows…” and names two FC. The owners of those FCs need to exchange places before that they need to put their FCs on the ground. One can add on different extra conditions to the game e.g. if the kids are too slow the teacher sits on one of those kid’s chair etc. Recognizing type game that most kids find extremely fun. These are top 5 picks of my favorite flashcard activities. I find them all dynamic, entertaining and provoking the kids to do the actions and repeat/recognize the words or phrases from the active vocabulary. Vital factors of a successful English lesson with younger students