Flash cards are a simple, versatile, yet often underexploited resource. There some reasons for using flash cards and a selection of activities for use in the young learner classroom, although some of the activities could also be used with fun-loving, lower level adult classes. Flash cards are a really handy resource to have and can be useful at every stage of the class. They are a great way to present, practise and recycle vocabulary and when students become familiar with the activities used in class, they can be given out to early- finishers to use in small groups. I sometimes get the students to make their own sets of mini flash cards that can be taken home for them to play with, with parents and siblings.

Why use flash cards? Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory reminds teachers that there are many types of learners within any one class. Gardner’s research indicates that teachers should aim to appeal to all the different learner types at some point during the course. It is particularly important to appeal to visual learners, as a very high proportion of learners have this type of intelligence. Flash cards can be bright and colourful and make a real impact on visual learners. Many of the activities outlined below will also appeal to kinaesthetic learners.

For children at reading age, flash cards can be used in conjunction with word cards. These are simply cards that display the written word. Word cards should be introduced well after the pictorial cards so as not to interfere with correct pronunciation.