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Flashcards – are they effective?

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Many parents surely associate the flashcards with the time when they were still in school themselves. No wonder, because this method has been eagerly used by students of all ages in United Kingdom and around the world for many years. Flashcards are usually small cards with words written in a foreign language on the one side and with the meaning of these words in English on the other side. However, this is just one of many examples of how and what you can learn with flashcards.

Find out what exactly flashcards are, how to use them every day and how to encourage your child to learn regularly. Do you want to check whether learning from flashcards is effective and efficient, and whether it is worth investing in them? Convince your child that learning and memorizing phrases using flashcards can be fun and exciting.

What are flashcards?

A flashcard is nothing more than a small card with a handwritten or printed phrase, word, historical date or question on the obverse and a definition, translation, explanation or answer on the reverse side. You can use pictures instead of words – this will make the cards more attractive to children.

Flashcards are successfully used by students all over the world as a self-made teaching aid for effective learning. The working principle of flashcards is extremely simple. This method is based on the systematic organization of knowledge, which significantly distinguishes it from the usual, tedious memorization of concepts from a list, textbook or notes.

Who is learning with flashcards for?

Flashcards are an ideal solution, especially for children who do not like to spend too much time studying, are constantly on the move, have many extracurricular activities and are simply not motivated to spend long hours reading books. Learning a foreign language, geography or history with flashcards allows you to effectively use your child’s time and lets them gain knowledge at any time, even during short breaks between lessons, on the way to school or during a break from other duties.

Moreover, it does not matter whether the child attends elementary or high school. Learning from flashcards works at every level of education in many different subjects and fields. Flashcards are therefore an extremely versatile tool which helps the child to remember more and more new concepts incidentally, without even being aware of it.

Learning from flashcards can also turn out to be a great opportunity to have fun together, both for younger and older children and their parents. All you need is a small family knowledge quiz at home with the use of flashcards and voila… children absorb knowledge in an attractive and engaging way.

What is the flashcard learning method?

Learning from flashcards is much more dynamic and engaging than “simply cramming” words from a list, historical, geographic and other concepts. There is no one correct method for learning from flashcards. In fact, once you have your memo cards ready, all options are allowed.

You can learn from flashcards alone in silence or by reading concepts aloud or in groups, for example, by organizing a knowledge quiz (necessarily with prizes!). The ready-made set of flashcards to learn can be left in the form of one deck, divided into several piles, or placed in a special box with compartments.

Learning from one deck of flashcards

The first and easiest solution is to learn from one deck of cards, from which we discover the words one by one. If you give the correct answer, e.g. to the word: “a cat”, you will answer “a cat”, which is the same as on the back of the card, you put the card at the bottom of the stack.

If, however, you hit the word: “a badger” and you think a squirrel, and you find out that “a badger” is “a badger”, then you put that card somewhere in the middle of your stack so that before you complete the repetition turn, you find the words that were difficult.

The mere necessity of shuffling and flipping flashcards introduces a bit of dynamism to the learning process and is more exciting than the monotonous study of a long list of concepts.

Learning from flashcards in a box with compartments

The second way to learn from flashcards requires dividing ready-made cards with concepts into piles, placing them in separate boxes or putting them in a special box with compartments.

For example, if you have a box with three compartments, first place all the cards in the first compartment. During systematic learning and repetition, you will surely come across terms that are easier and more difficult to remember, so you should separate the phrases that you have already mastered from those that are still difficult.

Therefore, in the first compartment there should be flashcards repeated every day, in the second compartment – flashcards repeated every other day, and in the third compartment – flashcards repeated e.g. every four days. If, after a repetition, you are able to give the correct answer to the phrase written on the flashcard, then the card goes to the next compartment. If you don’t know the answer or it turns out to be incorrect, then the flashcard goes to the previous compartment.

Students learning from flashcards in this way should strive to ensure that finally all the flashcards are mastered and put in the highest compartment. Watching your progress and systematically striving to achieve your goals is very motivating for students using this method.

Why is learning with flashcards so effective?

There are many advantages proving that learning from flashcards is the most effective and efficient method of learning phrases and words in a foreign language, grammar, as well as historical or geographic concepts. First of all, when learning from flashcards, the child does not remember the order of words, as it is when learning a poem by heart, and permanently learns expressions that later can be easily used when talking in a foreign language.

An additional advantage of flashcards is that their preparation itself is time-consuming and requires intense thinking. By rewriting certain phrases and concepts into flashcards, the child’s brain remembers the words immediately at the stage of creating teaching aids. Later, when the child begins to learn from the self-prepared flashcards, it turns out that some of the concepts are already familiar, “has already been seen somewhere” and it is easier to remember them.

Learning from flashcards is a great solution, especially for visual and tactile learners who remember best through visual and physical stimuli. In addition, flashcards allow for quick repetition of a specific batch of material and efficient use of time, e.g. in a bus, car or during a break at school. Flashcards are an interesting and engaging form of learning that should interest students of all ages and make them feel like they are in a game show.

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