Using flash cards

Joanna Budden, British Council, Spain

These activities relate to the Think article - Using flash cards with young learners. In the article there are more activity examples.

Memory Activities

Memory Tester
  • Place a selection of flash cards on the floor in a circle.
  • Students have one minute to memorise the cards.
  • In groups, they have two minutes to write as many of the names as they can remember.

Drilling Activities

A What?
  • Students sit in a circle.
  • You show a flash card to Student 1 and say "This is a hamster."
  • Student 1 looks at the flash card and asks you "a what?"
  • The teacher replies "a hamster" and passes the flash card on.
  • Student 1 passes the flash card on to Student 2 and says "this is a hamster".
  • Student 2 asks Student 1 "a what?" and Student 1 asks the teacher "a what?" the teacher replies to Student 1 "a hamster" and Student 1 replies to Student 2 "a hamster" and so it goes on until the flash card travels full circle.
  • When the group has mastered it, 2 flash cards can go around the circle in opposite directions. They will cross over mid circle.
  • When students know the game, choose one of them to do the teacher's role.

Identification Activities

Fast Finger
  • Stick flash cards on the board or on the wall (for very little people who won't reach the board!) in a line.
  • Give a clue to indicate which flash card you are thinking of. When presenting a new lexical set for the first time, give the whole word, e.g."Say stop when the fast finger is above the cat". When revising, or with higher levels, you can just give a clue, e.g. "It's an animal that can't fly, but it can climb trees."
  • Ask students to shout STOP when your finger is above the required flash card.
  • Then bounce your finger along in a random fashion to a silly tune until they shout STOP at the right time.
  • When they get the idea, ask a student to be the Fast Finger.
  • You can also use the word cards instead of a finger. When the word is above the corresponding pictorial flash card students shout STOP!

TPR activities


  • Students sit in 2 lines facing each other with legs out and feet touching.
  • Each facing pair is shown a flash card that they must remember. When you call out their card they stand up and run over the legs of the others, the ladder, around the back and back to their places.
  • The first one back wins a point for their line. If the students are very lively you can do it standing up to avoid trampled legs!