Different Ways to Use Flash Cards in an ESL Class

Flash cards are a valuable resource for any teacher for teaching and reviewing vocabulary, terms and other information. Here I have a list of different ways I use flash cards in my class. For these activities, I always laminate the cards to give durability and reusability. I always find students bending and folding cards during the activities and without lamination, they won’t last one class!

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Draw the Teacher
This game is especially popular with my middle school students. This requires flash cards and a dice. Split the class into small groups and on the whiteboard draw a plain ‘body’ and ‘head’ for each group. I just draw an oval for the body and a circle for the head. Tell students the game is to see which group can complete the drawing of the teacher first. Call up one student from a group to draw a flash card. Have the student identify/say sentence based on the card and the lesson. If they are correct, they get to roll the dice. Based on the number rolled, the student will draw a part of the teacher on the body. Write on the board before the game starts that rolling a 1 = Eye, 2 = Ear, 3 = Nose/Mouth, 4 = Hair, 5 = Arm, 6 = Leg. So if the student rolls a 5, they can draw one arm on the teacher. Tell students they can only draw one eye/ear/arm etc.. So for a group to win they would need to roll 1 two times, 2 two times etc. until the whole body is complete.
I always enjoy the creative students’ drawings. I’ve had students draw the teacher(me) with octopus arms, peg legs, eye patches, mohawk hair and ect. It’s great for fun and laughs.

Tell a Story
This activity works well with action/verb or vocabulary flash cards. Have the students get into small groups and give each group 4-5 random flashcards. Then each group must come up with a story that uses all the actions/verb/vocabulary from the cards. Have the group present the story to the class.

Memory Game
This is great for reviewing vocabulary, grammar or speaking/creating sentences. Print out two sets of large cards and tape them to the whiteboard in front of the class in 1,2,3/a,b,c row/columns. Split the class into groups and play the Memory matching card game. Have one student in a group choose a card. They must then say what the picture is, make a sentence or say something related to whatever you are teaching. Then they choose a 2nd card. Then go to the next group and choose a student. Whichever group gets the most card pairs wins.

Go Fish
A fun card game to encourage students to speak in English. Print out pairs of cards in smaller size. This is best played in groups of 4-5 students. You may need to print out more sets to have multiple groups of students. Distribute 4 cards to each student in the group and the remaining cards place facedown in a pile in the middle of the group. The goal is to try to get the most matching pairs of cards. Have each student ask another student “Do you have ….?” If the other student has the card, they must give it to the asking student. If not, they say “Go Fish” and the asking student picks up a card from the middle pile. Go around until all the cards are paired up and see who has the most pairs.

Have you tried one of these games in your class? Let me know how it went! I’d also love to hear other ideas you have for using flashcards in the class. Let me know and I’ll include it in this list!

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