Monday, 23 April 2018

ESL Flashcard Games

Flashcards at Dawn

Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 10 minutes     Players: 2 teams     Preparation: Flashcards of the target vocabulary

Aim: To be the first to say what's on a flashcard

Motivate your students to speak English with this entertaining flashcard game. This ESL game works very well with young learners.

Before you play, prepare some flashcards of the target vocabulary.


Divide the class into two teams.

One student comes up from each team.

Both students are then given a flashcard.

The two students stand back to back in the middle of the classroom.

Each student holds their flashcard in front of them with the picture side facing away.

Both students then take three steps away from each other before quickly turning around. This is similar to the pistols at dawn scenario.

The two students then race to shout out what's on the other student's flashcard.

The first student to shout out the word wins a point for their team.

Alternatively, you can ask the students to draw pictures instead of using flashcards. You could also use numbers instead of pictures.

Flashcards at Dawn.PDF


Grab it

Age/Level: Any     Time: 10 to 15 minutes     Players: 2 teams     Preparation: Flashcards of the target language or vocabulary

Aim: To review or practice language or vocabulary

This engaging flashcard game has a variety of uses. You can use it to review or practice vocabulary, practice matching descriptions/definitions to words, or to practice question and answer structures.


Stick flashcards of your chosen language or vocabulary on the board.

Divide the class into two teams.

Have each team line up at the back of the room. Make sure that the students have a clear run to the board.

For lower-level students, call out a word and one student from each team runs to the board, and races to grab the corresponding flashcard and repeat the word. You could also call out an opposite word and have the two students race to grab the opposite of that word and say it.

For higher-level students, describe or define a word and have the two students race to find the flashcard being described. You could also ask a question and have the students find the corresponding flashcard to answer.

The first student to grab the correct flashcard and respond appropriately keeps the card for their team.

Repeat the game with two more students and so on.

The team with the most flashcards at the end of the game wins.

Grab it.PDF


Mr Wolf

Age/Level: Young learners      Time: 10 to 15 minutes      Players: Individual     Preparation: Flashcards of the target vocabulary

Aim: To answer yes/no question about a flashcard

This version of Mr Wolf is useful for teaching a variety of yes/no questions.


The students line up against the wall and you stand at the opposite wall. Show the students your chosen flashcard.

Ask the students questions about the flashcard, which would get a no response. Every time the students answer no, they have to take one step forward.

When the students are close to you, ask them a question about the flashcard that would get a yes response.

When the students answer yes, you chase the students and try to tag them out. Whoever is tagged is out of the game.

Example: Flashcard of a car

The teacher shows a picture of a car and asks, "Is it a motorbike?"

The students say, "No, it isn't." They then move forward one step.

The teacher continues asking a few more questions to elicit a no response. Each time the students answer no, they take a step forward.

When the students are near the teacher, the teacher asks, "Is it a car?"

The students answer, "Yes, it is."

The teacher then chases and tries to tag the students before they reach the wall. Whoever is tagged is out.

The game can also be played with a strong student asking the questions.

Mr Wolf.PDF


The Flashcard Exchange

Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 10 to 15 minutes     Players: Individual     Preparation: Flashcards of the target vocabulary

Aim: To associate words with pictures

You can use this entertaining flashcard game to teach vocabulary on a variety of topics, such as weather, food, animals, etc. This game helps students to associate words with pictures.


Put the students' chairs in a circle (minus one chair).

Each student sits in a chair and holds a flashcard. One student stands in the middle of the circle with no flashcard.

If you were teaching sports, each student would have a different picture of a sport on their flashcard.

Then you call out two different sports.

The two students who have those sports on their flashcards must swap places.

The student in the middle has to try to sit in one of their seats while they are swapping chairs.

If the student in the middle manages to sit in one of the chairs, the student left standing has to give their flashcard to the student who took their place.

Then you call out two more sports and so on.

All the students should have each flashcard at least once by the end of the game.

The Flash Card Exchange.PDF


Age/Level: Beginners     Time: 15 minutes     Players: 2 teams     Preparation: Flashcards of the target vocabulary

Aim: To practice matching vocabulary to pictures

Here is a fun flashcard game to play with young learners or beginners.


Divide the students into two teams (A and B).

Tell the students to form a large ring in the classroom.

Choose one student from each team to play first.

The two players face each other in the centre of the ring.

Stick a flashcard to the back of each player.

Tell the two players to place their hands behind their back.

Then have the two players perform a ‘Sumo Stomp’ and you say ‘go’.

The two players then have to try and see what flashcard is on their opponent’s back.

The players must always stay inside the ring. They cannot touch each other because their hands are behind their backs.

Insist that the students who form the ring don’t shout or give away the answer. Impose a penalty point to the other team if this happens.

When a player knows the answer, they put their hand up and you ask them what the word is.

If the player is correct, they win a point for their team.

Then two new players enter the centre of the ring and the game continues with new flashcards.

Continue until everyone has had a chance to play.

The team with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.




Age/Level: Young learners     Time: 15 minutes     Players: Pairs/Small teams     Preparation: Tiddlywinks, prepared questions and flashcards

Aim: To answer questions about flashcards

For this fun flashcard game, you need a list of questions based on a set of flashcards.


Begin the game by marking a start line on the floor.

Split the class into pairs or small teams.

Put the flashcards face up and spaced out at the other end of the room.

Give each team member a number. Player one from each pair or team goes first.

Give player one 2 tiddlywinks or 2 coins.

Show the players how to move the tiddlywinks. To do this, they must hold the tiddlywink between their forefinger and thumb and press down on the edge of the other tiddlywink. This fires the tiddlywink forward.

Ask a question based on one of the flashcards.

The first player from each team has to flip their tiddlywink across the room and onto the correct flashcard.

Once a student has their tiddlywink on the flashcard, they can answer the question.

If the student answers the question correctly, they win a point for their team.

Then, the players swap and the game begins again from the start line with a new question.




Age/Level: Any     Time: 20 minutes     Players: 2 teams     Preparation: 2 sets of identical flashcards

Aim: To communicate words in a certain order

This ESL flashcard game is great for reviewing vocabulary.


Arrange the class into two teams.

Put two sets of identical flashcards at the front of the class next to the board. Then draw a line on the board to separate the two teams.

Have each team sit in a row facing the board. The first student in each row should be near the board and the last student should be near the back of the class.

Go to the back of the two rows and whispers three or four words to the two students at the back.

The student at the back of each row whispers these words to the student in front of them. They must do this in the order, they heard the words.

The next student whispers the words to the student in front of them and so on, until the words have travelled all the way to the front.

The student at the front of each row must grab the flashcards that match the words and stick them to the board in the correct order.

The first team to put up the flashcards in the correct order wins a point.

When the round is over, the students at the front of the class move to the seats at the back and everyone else moves up a place.

Then the process is repeated.

The team with the most points at the end wins.

You can also use this flashcard game to teach or review prepositions of place. Just add preposition cards and mix them up with the other flashcards. Whisper a phrase to the two students at the back, e.g. The ball is in the box. The student at the front would have to form the flashcards, e.g. ball, in, box. Then say the complete sentence.

For higher-level students, use flashcards with words rather than pictures.


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