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Teach English in BAli Zhen - Yangzhou Shi
Groans and sighs involuntarily erupt from students when teachers mention flashcards. I know. I’ve groaned with the rest at the thought of yet another mindless repetition and recitation. I begin wondering what’s for dinner, what happens next in the story I’m reading, or what I’m going to do when class finishes. But what student objects to playing games? I’ve never met one. With some careful planning and preparation, teachers can turn the groans and sighs into exclamations of anticipation. Here are five ideas to make flashcards more enjoyable. 1. Memory Match. Teachers can make flashcards into a memory match game by letting students match pictures to vocabulary words, different parts of speech, the beginnings and endings of sentences, and many more. Students inadvertently review and practice the flashcards as they play the game. This activity can be played by a group or an individual. 2. Hide and Seek. This favorite game works especially well for children. But instead of children hiding from and looking for each other, the teacher hides the flashcards around the classroom and students try to find them. When they find a card, they return it to the teacher and tell the teacher the important information relevant to the card (such as read the word on the card, say the opposite of the word on the card, answer the question, etc.). To make the game more lively, the teacher can time the students to see how quickly they can find and return all the cards. Children love racing against the clock! An additional benefit to this activity is that it gives them a chance to get some wiggles out. 3. Charades. The teacher gives one student or a group of students a card to act out for the others in the class. The students who haven’t seen the card try to guess what is on it. This activity not only helps students review their flashcards, but it also helps them internalize the meaning by engaging their bodies through movement. 4. Illustrations. This activity can be used for individuals in one-on-one situations as well as for those who work best by themselves. It can also be used for groups to work on as teams. The teacher gives students one or more flashcards, and students need to find a non-verbal way to illustrate what is on each card. This could be accomplished by drawing, creating a collage, building a model, or any other creative means the students and teacher agree upon. After completion, students show it to the rest of the class and the class tries to figure out how it relates to the flashcard, and the students responsible for creating that illustration explain why they made it the way they did. 5. Categories. The teacher gives the flashcards to the students, and the students sort the cards into categories they think make the most sense. Students can be responsible for creating the categories themselves, or the teacher can pre-select categories the students need to sort into. After completing the task of sorting, students explain to the rest of the class their categories (if they created the categories themselves) and why they sorted their cards the way they did. The students will enjoy seeing how different people came up with different ideas even though they all had the same cards. This activity can be completed as an individual or in small groups. Using games for reviewing flashcards doesn’t just remove the drudgery of mindless repetition. Games also engage students in the learning process. As these activities engage more senses and change groans to giggles and fun and laughter, students learn more, learn faster, and learn better. Teachers who incorporate games into flashcard review will discover the learning accomplished greatly outweighs the cost of preparation.