I’ve heard mixed opinions on the usefulness of flashcards to learn vocabulary. Some people swear by them and some people think they are a pointless rote learning exercise that doesn’t teach you how to use and manipulate vocabulary.
This got me thinking about context and holistic learning. Obviously, the aim of flashcards is to help you remember key vocabulary. However, you want to surely be able to not just retain the word in isolation but to be able to use it in sentences?
Last weekend I made some big flashcard changes with the aim of making them an exercise in learning vocab, using vocab, manipulating vocab and listening and speaking – a truly holistic experience.
- Firstly, despite my love of paper and pen I have downloaded an app called simply: ‘Flashcards’. I know there are more popular apps for flashcards out there like Memrise and Anki but I was drawn to this one because of its record function (and it’s price of £0.00)
- I no longer have just the word per flashcard. Instead I put the word in a complete and useful sentence.
E.g Denne er særlig fin.
I then do at least 2 examples on separate cards for each word. I aim to create sentences where I know the rest of the words, meaning that the new learning is focused on the new keyword
3. Now, on the reverse side of the digital flashcard, I only put the English translation for the key word I was learning. This encourages me to use what I already know to support my new learning.
4. Next, I use the record function and record myself reading the sentences aloud. I get my partner to check my pronunciation to make sure that it is correct. Now I have a set of flashcards which I can listen to. I can also use them in reverse, starting with the single English word prompt which I then have to recall in Norwegian and put into one of my pre-recorded sentences.
The benefit of making a study activity which encompasses different aspects of your learning (reading, speaking, listening etc. ) is that you will have many more opportunities to use the new vocab you are learning.
When I recently posted on Instagram about flashcards I got really inspired by Sam of @pillartoposts who told me that not only does he record himself speaking the new vocab in a sentence, but he actually creates short written pieces to use all his new key words. He records this and then he can listen to it to reinforce the vocabulary in context. Definitely a great way to further contextualise and consolidate the learning – Thanks Sam!