Welcome to the new series from Teachers House, a series designed to help you step away from flashcard dependence and into your full education potential.
Flashcards are a staple of ESL teaching so why should you move away from them? Let’s look at how you learnt your native language. Did your parents show you a stack of flashcards and expect you to memorise the picture and associated word? Or did they, in the course of your daily life, talk to you about the things you were doing, seeing and touching so that you understood the item, it’s name and how it relates to you in your everyday life?
Now, don’t get my wrong, there are parents out there who force feed flashcards to their babies and toddlers in the hope of developing early reading skills and increasing their language skills. But, by and large, language learning takes place without a single flashcard.
I can hear the panic in your thoughts. My whole class is planned around flashcards, I only have flashcard games, I just bought a book of flashcard games to introduce to class – what am I going to do now?
First, let’s take it one step at a time. I’m not asking to throw away your flashcards forever (but I hope that you’ll see the huge benefits of doing so!) How about we start with something simple?
Fruit and Vegetables
- Bring real fruit and vegetables into class
- Students will get to see, touch and smell them, activating all of their learning centers
- Have a taste test, allow your students to anchor the new language word to a familiar taste
- Make a fruit salad, talk about what you can put into the fruit salad, can we add tomatoes? What about potatoes and carrots?
- Blend or juice the fruit and make frozen iceblocks for summer fruit time
- Set up a store
- Reinforce their number skills by having them ask and buy some fruit
- Start with teacher being the shopkeeper then rotate through the students
- “Do you have any bananas today?” “No, I don’t have bananas but I have dragonfruit.”
- Mini field trip to the local market
- Your students regularly attend the market with their family, anchor the new language words into a familiar setting
- Print making
- Cut your celery, apples, carrots, potatoes into different shapes, dip them into paint and let the kids create something new
- Sprout seeds in a mini greenhouse
- 2 plastic cups, paper towel, sticky tape, seeds and a bit of water and a sunny windowsill – watch the excitement as your seeds start to sprout
- Make lemonade
- Explore sweet and sour tastes
There are so many fruit and vegetable songs available through Super Simple Learning, Pink Fong, ChuChuTv and others but why not try some of these cute little chants? You can even tell your students that you wrote them yourself!
So, a small challenge. This Friday, tuck away your flashcards and try something different in class.
We would love to see pictures of any of the suggestions above that you tried and your thoughts on Flashcard Free Fridays.