Flashcards should be a part of every language teacher’s bag of tools. While there are many more exciting and modern resources, sometimes the simplest tools are what is called for.

Games using flashcards


Digital Flashcards
I’d been wanting to create digital flashcards to use in my classroom. While there are some great apps using flashcards for vocabulary memorisation, they are generally for individuals, and only a small number of my students have the necessary devices.  I attempted several programs which were either difficult to use or weren’t visually appealing, and trying to add macros to Powerpoint to enable randomisation almost ended, many hours later, with the laptop being thrown across the room.

But in the end I found a very simple way to create, and use, digital flashcards for class activities. All you need is a computer and a projector. I am using Powerpoint 7 and Windows Vista at home and Windows 7 at work.

1. Create a Powerpoint Slideshow with a different flashcard on each slide. They might be text-based, image-based, or both. For the example below, I created flashcards for each character in the Japanese syllabary.


2. Save the Powerpoint as .jpg (file —> save as —> Jpg) and when prompted to export slides (like below), choose ‘every slide’.


3. Place the slides (now jpg image files) into a single folder, and label clearly for future reference. I am starting to get a nice collection of digital flashcards and organising folders now saves a lot of heartache later!


To use the flashcards, simply open the folder and view the images as a slideshow (Vista shown below) . In Windows 7 open one of the images and click the round button at the bottom between the arrows (I’ll get a screenshot on Monday).

Windows Vista

Windows Vista

Set up the slideshow to run randomly and set your speed to slow, medium or fast, or you can choose to change the flashcards manually.

Classroom Ideas

*Run the flashcards automatically and have students line up, with one student at a time coming to the front of the room to give the meaning of the flashcard presented. If the student is correct, they go to the end of the line for the next round, those who don’t sit down (perhaps writing the incorrect vocabulary item ten times). Increase the speed of the slideshow as the game progresses.

*Have all students stand and give the meaning out loud as the flashcards appear. Students sit down as they miss words, or give wrong responses (to some extent this relies on student honesty). This is a great activity to run automatically as you do administrative tasks like roll-marking.

*I sometimes run a slideshow at the end of the lesson with the day’s vocabulary. Students must answer x-number of vocabulary in a row correctly to leave for lunch. Incorrect answers go to the back of the line. Missing out on that all-important socialisation time is a huge motivator!

*Give the flashcards to students to practice at home. It gives those who don’t have the fancy technology a chance to revise their vocab digitally without feeling left out.


*Do you have any ideas for using digital flashcards?
*Have you made digital flashcards?
*Do you have a different method to share?
*Are you still a fan of the ‘old-fashioned’ flashcards?

Add to the discussion in the comments below,
or in our facebook comments.


Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

8 thoughts on “Flashcards

  1. I love how you are using PowerPoint for your flashcards! Thanks for sharing.
    For those who have access to iPads in their classrooms, Bitsboard is a wonderful, free flashcard app. The flashcards are sooooooo easy to create and you can embed audio. Flashcards can then be shared to a catalogue and downloaded onto multiple iPads. As the teacher, I created an account so that I could share the flashcards that I create, but students do not need an account to download the sets which are available through the catalogue.
    Create one set of flashcards, and the app makes multiple games/activities from that set.


    • Dear Kathryn, That sounds like a great resource. The more I hear about these great apps the more I feel I have to get me an I-thingy! It might be a while before our students have access though, so in the meantime I’m always looking for ways to incorporate technology-based activities with the tools I have, instead of lamenting, ‘what if’!


  2. Quizlet does the flascard application for you automatically. There are lots of sets already made that can be copied, edited and made into your own set. There is also a range of images available in the free version.


    • Hi Debra, thanks for the advice. I have used Quizlet in the past and it is a great resource. I was searching specifically for something that would flip through flashcards randomly, automatically, and at different speeds. I couldn’t find out how or if I could do that in Quizlet, and so were born these digital flashcards. I like having the freedom to make the flashcards look pretty, too 😉


  3. I still use the old-fashioned flashcards in the classroom but have several sets of Quizlet cards available to the kids to use at home or in class. These cards can be shuffled to produce a new order , audio is available, speed is determined by the viewer. I will look into “Bitsboard” . It sounds great but I have limited access to iPads. The ppt idea is great too. Would like to try that as well! Thank you for the ideas 🙂


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