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Studying endless lists of French vocabulary can get tedious, and it doesn't do language students or their teachers any good. One way to make learning vocabulary more interesting and interactive is with flash cards. They're so easy that anyone can make them, and they can be a fun project for students of all ages and levels. Here's how it's done.
Project: Making French Flash Cards
- Choose your cardstock: Index cards or fun, colored cardstock paper, which is thicker than standard writing paper but not as thick as poster board. If you're using cardstock, cut it into 10 index-card-size rectangles, or as many as you need. For a bit of a challenge, try using flashcard software to make more professional-looking flash cards.
- Write a French word or phrase on one side of the card and the English translation on the other.
- Keep a pack of flashcards organized with a rubber band, and carry them in your pocket or purse.
- Vocabulary: Separate sets of flashcards according to themes (restaurants, clothing, etc.) versus a single master grouping.
- Expressions: Write the main word on one side and a list of its expressions on the other.
- Abbreviations: Write an abbreviation (such as "AF") on one side and what it stands for ( Allocations families) on the other.
- Creativity: If you're a teacher, you can make a set of flashcards to use in class, or you might consider asking your students to make their own. The cards can be made on the computer or by hand, using colors, magazine pictures, drawings and anything else that inspires students to think about French.
- Usage: Flashcards can be used in class, but they are also great to have when you're waiting at the doctor's office, sitting on a bus or riding a stationary bike. Carry them with you so that you can work on your French during the time that would otherwise be wasted.
Teachers and Students on Using Flash Cards
- "I now use pictures to teach everything in my class from idiomatic expressions to verbs to nouns. You can get any kind of picture you need from Google Image Search. It's been a great resource for me so I don't always need to buy magazines to find pictures. Plus, the students learn what each action or item is in the target language without using English."
- "I've seen flash cards bound together with a large metal ring (the kind kids hang their sports patches on). They can be found in craft stores and hardware stores for about $1. Each flash card was punched in one corner and then slipped onto this ring. What a great idea! No rubber bands or index card boxes to carry, and the card is fully visible: It's a key-chain concept. I require my French 1 students to make cards for each chapter."
- "I use flashcards for each chapter at almost every level. My students especially love playing 'au tour du monde,' which involves one student standing next to another in his or her seat. I flash the word and the first student who correctly translates it gets to move ahead and stand aside from the next student. When the standing student loses, s/he sits in that spot and the winner gets to move on. Students move up and down rows, and the goal is to make it all the way back to where s/he started, a la 'around the world.' Sometimes it gets pretty heated, but students love it! Another version is four corners, where four students stand in each of the four corners of my room. I flash a word and the first to correctly translate it gets to move counterclockwise and 'knock out' that student who then sits down. The last student standing wins."
- "Color coding flashcards work great. I use blue for masculine nouns, red for feminine, green for verbs, orange for adjectives. It really helps on tests to remember the color."