Flashcards should be a part of every language teacher’s bag of tools. While there are many more exciting and modern resources, sometimes the simplest tools are what is called for.
Games using flashcards
I’d been wanting to create digital flashcards to use in my classroom. While there are some great apps using flashcards for vocabulary memorisation, they are generally for individuals, and only a small number of my students have the necessary devices. I attempted several programs which were either difficult to use or weren’t visually appealing, and trying to add macros to Powerpoint to enable randomisation almost ended, many hours later, with the laptop being thrown across the room.
But in the end I found a very simple way to create, and use, digital flashcards for class activities. All you need is a computer and a projector. I am using Powerpoint 7 and Windows Vista at home and Windows 7 at work.
1. Create a Powerpoint Slideshow with a different flashcard on each slide. They might be text-based, image-based, or both. For the example below, I created flashcards for each character in the Japanese syllabary.
2. Save the Powerpoint as .jpg (file —> save as —> Jpg) and when prompted to export slides (like below), choose ‘every slide’.
3. Place the slides (now jpg image files) into a single folder, and label clearly for future reference. I am starting to get a nice collection of digital flashcards and organising folders now saves a lot of heartache later!
To use the flashcards, simply open the folder and view the images as a slideshow (Vista shown below) . In Windows 7 open one of the images and click the round button at the bottom between the arrows (I’ll get a screenshot on Monday).
Set up the slideshow to run randomly and set your speed to slow, medium or fast, or you can choose to change the flashcards manually.
*Run the flashcards automatically and have students line up, with one student at a time coming to the front of the room to give the meaning of the flashcard presented. If the student is correct, they go to the end of the line for the next round, those who don’t sit down (perhaps writing the incorrect vocabulary item ten times). Increase the speed of the slideshow as the game progresses.
*Have all students stand and give the meaning out loud as the flashcards appear. Students sit down as they miss words, or give wrong responses (to some extent this relies on student honesty). This is a great activity to run automatically as you do administrative tasks like roll-marking.
*I sometimes run a slideshow at the end of the lesson with the day’s vocabulary. Students must answer x-number of vocabulary in a row correctly to leave for lunch. Incorrect answers go to the back of the line. Missing out on that all-important socialisation time is a huge motivator!
*Give the flashcards to students to practice at home. It gives those who don’t have the fancy technology a chance to revise their vocab digitally without feeling left out.
*Do you have any ideas for using digital flashcards?
*Have you made digital flashcards?
*Do you have a different method to share?
*Are you still a fan of the ‘old-fashioned’ flashcards?
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