Use Flashcards to Speed up Your English Learning

Let’s look at the process of learning a new language.
Indeed, you need to understand and remember many new words. But there is something even more fundamental you must do. You must be able to retain the new data. Now, retaining data is a skill. And it can be developed. When you practice and practice and practice it – you get better and better in doing it.
Flashcards are a great method to practice retaining data, and they have a bonus. When used correctly – they can be quite fun.

So what are flashcards and how can you use them?
Flashcards are cards which are flashed, or in other words, shown quickly, to the student. He then needs to recall and say the word which correctly describes the flashcard. The actual card can show a word, a picture or an illustration.

For example, a teacher could have a set of cards about weather. It would contain different cards, such as a card with a picture of rain, a card with a picture of snow, and so forth. The teacher would divide the class into several groups and begin a game. The purpose would be to win as much points as possible. During this activity, the teacher flashes (shows briefly) a card to the class, one after the other. The first team to say the right English word for that card gets a point. The team with the most points – wins.

Another example would be of a student using flashcards by himself. He could write a word in English on one side of the card, and put that word’s meaning on the other side of the card. He could use these cards daily to practice his vocabulary. He could do it at home, on the way to work or school (if he’s using public transportation), and so forth. He might not be competing with other students for points, but he could make a game out of it anyway, by trying to get more “points” than he got the day before.

As you can see, this method of learning turns the process into a game and adds some fun to the deal.
There is basically no limit to what you can do with flashcards. You can make all sorts of games, quizzes, competitions and other vocabulary activities. You can practice with them online, play cards and group games offline, repeat your exposure to the words – the list is endless!

There are some important things to remember, though. If you keep those in mind, you can maximize your vocabulary building process.

1) Don’t aim too high at first.
Now, let me clarify this one. There is nothing wrong with aiming high. On the contrary! Aim as high as your eyes can see! But it is wise not to try dealing with a lion, before you can handle cats… In other words, take a gradual approach for advancing. This will probably get you there faster than trying to get everything at once.
So don’t start practicing SAT vocabulary flashcards, if your vocabulary level is basic. Go step by step, improving further and further. You’ll get there in the end.
Find the right level for you.

2) Another important point to keep in mind is that even though flashcards can be a fun and easy memorizing exercise, they cannot and will not replace real usage of the language.
If you really want to learn a language, you must use it.
This works very much the same way as with any other subject you learn. If you really want to learn how to drive a car – you must practice actually driving a car. And if you really want to learn English – you must practice actually using English. This includes reading, writing, listening and speaking.
Flashcards can help in the process, but they cannot replace the real thing.

What makes a good set of flashcards?
- They should be comprehensive.
- They should be right for your level.
- They should be fun to use. Not a must, but a huge incentive…
So find some good sets of flashcards and use them (together with other means) to improve your vocabulary. The benefit will be all yours.
Article by: Ola Zur

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