Flashcards Can Be Boring (Part I): 2 Ideas To Shake Things Up

Flashcards can be an essential part of teaching EFL and ESL students new vocabulary, concepts, and sentence patterns. However, let’s be honest: they can also be a total bore! Students see those cards go up, and their eyes immediately glaze over with boredom.

So here are 2 games you can play to shake things up a little and get those kids having fun with flashcards.

Game 1: Flashcard Karuta (Slap Game)

This game works well with smaller groups (10-15 kids) that can fit around a single table. Try it and see how excited students can be about new vocabulary!

What you’ll need: whichever flashcards you’re teaching (at least 8 of them), a table, and students

Step 1: teach your flashcards in a regular way. Show cards one at a time and get students to repeat after you (or read the cards, if they can). Spend 5-10 minutes practicing pronunciation and any important sentence patterns the students will need.

Step 2: spread the flashcards (preferably 8-10 of them) on the table. Walk around the table while repeating: “walk, walk, walk.” Then yell out one of your flashcard words and slap it as quickly as possible. This shows students how the game is played. Students will walk around the table until you yell out a flashcard word. Then, they will have to correctly slap that word on the table. The first student to slap the card gets to keep it. At the end of the game, the student with the most cards wins.

Step 3: get those students standing, walking around the table, and slapping those cards! If you would like, you can choose upbeat music for students to walk to. When the music stops (or when you choose to pause it), you yell out a word and students must slap the correct card on the table.

Game 2: Flashcard musical chairs

Like the previous game, this gets kids moving while learning about flashcards. However, this can be played with smaller groups (4-8 students) or larger groups (20ish students).

What you’ll need: whichever flashcards you’re teaching (8-10 cards are good), enough chairs for each student, and students

Step 1: teach your flashcards in a regular way. Show cards one at a time and get students to repeat after you (or read the cards, if they can). Spend 5-10 minutes practicing pronunciation and any important sentence patterns the students will need.

Step 2: have students make a circle with their chairs.

Step 3: have students stand and place your flashcards on random chairs. Have students walk around until you signal them to sit. They must scramble to get a chair. If there is a flashcard on a student’s chair, he/she must pick it up and say the word. As an alternate version of the game, play upbeat music while students walk around the circle. When it stops (or when you pause it), it signals the students to find a seat.

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