Flashcards are the best teachers’ friends

Flashcards are the best teachers’ friends

Would you like your students to interact with information in the easiest way? Flashcards are true learning tools which are used to facilitate vocabulary and grammar memorisation. Moreover, teachers value flashcards as using flashcards:

reduces TTT

eliminates the need for translation

visualises new vocabulary

stimulates memorization

brings elements of play into the learning process

 promotes communicative activities


In this article, we will write about ways to use and create flashcards.  

What are the most popular ways to use ESL flashcards?

ESL flashcards can be divided into 4 types: comparing cards, information cards, part to whole cards, distribution cards. Each type of flashcards can be used in various activities.

Comparing  cards

These cards are great for associative learning and active recall. Students learn new vocabulary and grammar by comparing pictures, finding differences and memorising the opposite meanings.

e.g. Activities: Spot the difference, match the opposites

Information cards

Double-side information flashcards are very effective for memorization of terms, meanings, important dates, phrasal verbs, language patterns and idioms. Students like to play memory games (when they need to turn over the cards and find matches), using Question/Answer double side cards, guess games and, of course, BINGO.  

My favourite activity is working with Question/Answer double side cards. Your question cards can be adapted to different topics and ages.

Your students can practice questioning and boost speaking using ready-made sets of question card games

e.g WHEN? WHY? WHERE?  sets of  flashcards


YES/NO question flashcards

Information flashcards cards can also include grammar rules and structures.


Let your students play a teacher and teach some grammar rules in the classroom, using your grammar rules flashcards. Get them explaining the meanings or making example sentences using their own words and associations.

Part to whole cards

Part to whole card games requires students to analyze every flashcard and put images or sentences together to get a full story. You can distribute cards and tell your students to move around the classroom and search for missing information by asking questions. You can also try StorySequencing. You can make part to whole card games out of picture stories printable worksheets. Some picture stories printable worksheets are available here.

A lot of teachers buy flashcards games from internet shops e.g. Language flashcards or you can simply make them with your students

How to make flashcards

Use your photos 

Let your students create flashcards sets by sharing personal or popular Instagram photos on the chosen topic. You can ask your students to look for photos in advance then categorize and print them for your classroom.

Download images from the Internet

Downloading pre-made flashcards from the internet is an easy solution. Doing this way you skip the creative process of intaking and presenting new information in students’ own vision. However, downloaded flashcards will save your time and still serve you well in the classroom. While preparing sets of pre-made flashcards to think of choosing the simplest images that will allow you to use your cards for different ages. You may like the idea of creating multiple sets of cards at the beginning of the year. That is a lot of work, but you’ll REALLY appreciate the flexibility it gives you in class. You can have 4-5 sets of flashcards on different topics piled in baskets, ready for any number of activities during the year.

Here are some popular online flashcards communities:  

ESL Flashcards

Flashcard machine

MES -English

Draw your own flashcards 

One of the most important and integral parts of learning is the process of intaking information and wrangling with it on your own while creating your own images and stories using new vocabulary. Making flashcards can be a good idea for upper intermediate and advanced classrooms as students can mix pictures with words, even anagrams, you can draw the idioms, situations and your own picture stories. 

Adding descriptive sentences, single terms will increase your students’ brain’s ability to recall what you’re teaching.

You can use online flashcards creators Flashcard Machine – Create, Study and Share Online Flash Cards and Kitzkiks flashcard creator

These flashcards creators can be used for making grammar rules flashcards as well.  Let us say conditional formulas, countable uncountable nouns etc. With StudyBlue flashcards creator you can make double-sided cards ex. a noun or verb images on the one side, their reference on the other one. 

Once your flashcards are ready, laminated and well- classified, bring them in your classroom and estimate their teaching power. 

Try these super easy quick games with flashcards mentioned above and remember these engaging activities work well not only for kids but adults as well.

Яна Бойко

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