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How to use vocabulary flash cards

For many language learners, vocabulary flash cards are an effective way to learn and revise your vocabulary. From this site, you can print some free French flash cards, or browse a list of ready-made flash cards offered by other publishers. Whichever you choose, here are a few tips on using flash cards.

  • Start by using the flash cards topic at a time. Later, you might consider lumping several topics together for a "grand revision" session.
  • Go through the pile of cards with the vocab that you want to learn revise. Look at the English on the card, then try to think what the French is.
  • If you can't think of the French in a couple of seconds, put that card one one pile. If you know the French, check that you got it correct and put in on another pile.
  • Don't sit struggling to remember a piece of vocab. If you don't know it in a couple of seconds, count it as "incorrect" for now and come back to it.
  • Once you've been through the cards, start over with the pile of "incorrect" words. Go through the pile, this time looking at the French and English. Then go through as before, looking at the English and trying to recall the French.
  • Repeat this procedure, hopefully gradually eliminating the cards from your "incorrect" pile.
  • Try interleaving a couple of topics. After going through a couple of other topics, come back to the first one and see if you can still remember the vocab.

Flash cards are a good support medium for learning or revising vocab. But they're not necessarily so effective as your only exposure to the vocabulary. You should try and use them in conjunction with some other medium such as newspaper articles, web pages (or of course this site's dictionary!) that let you see the words in context.

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