Last Updated on March 23, 2022
As a tutor on Cambly Kids, we have the flexibility to teach how we feel best. There’s no requirement to have certain props but I do feel that having flashcards helps me with my lessons. I use Canva.com to create digital flashcards that I then AirDrop them to my iPad. It’s great having all the images in one place and then I simply show my iPad to the camera. So here’s a guide on how I make flashcards for teaching English to English language learners!
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Flashcards For English Learners
The best place to start would be to make the basics: the alphabet (upper and lower), numbers, colours and shapes. These are a great way to be able to get a quick idea on the level of the student, especially if it’s a student you’ve not had before (7 Tips On How To Be A Successful Online ESL Tutor (Cambly Kids)).
Typically I tend to make flashcards that support the Cambly curriculum. If the question is ‘circle the T-shirt’, I don’t necessarily want to draw around the T-shirt and give the answer to the student. Instead, if they don’t yet remember what a T-shirt is, I can show them the image on my iPad. The more you teach the different lessons, it then gives you a better idea of what flashcards would be useful to have.
As well as the basics I now have: country flags, plurals, characters from songs and stories, CVC words, opposites, people (boy, girl, man woman), ages (young, younger, old, older), stripes & spots, body parts, jobs, items of clothing, free talk conversation starters (different food items, hobbies, weather, locations) and word families (-at, -an, -ap, -it, -ook etc).
The CVC words are great for teaching reading. I have a graphic with the word written underneath. I zoom in on the word on my iPad and we go through the letter sounds together. If they can’t blend the word together, I then start slowly zooming out making more of the picture visible. Sometimes only a tiny part of the picture needs to be seen for the connection of the sounds and the image to then know what the word is.
As I mainly teach beginner English learners, I only really need the basics. If you teach older or more advanced students, you could always create more for things like verbs, grammar and other parts of speech too.
They are then all sorted into different albums in the Photos app (Apple). I’ve got so used to the order of the images that I know exactly where is image is and I can pull them up quickly as required.
Using Canva To Make Flashcards
I use Canva for a whole range of things. Not only for flashcards, but my header was put together in Canva, my Pinterest pins, I’m currently designing new business cards, my YouTube thumbnails (when I can be bothered to make proper ones…), it’s so quick and easy.
A free account still gives you a wide variety of options. There are graphics, photos and clipart images that can be used but you are restricted for choice. For example, when I originally made my ‘i’ flashcard, I wanted i for igloo image, but there were any available on the free subscription, so I used an ‘insect’ picture instead.
Once you’ve created a couple of templates, it’s really quick to then change it into a different flashcard. In the video below I include a screen recording of how I use my Canva template to make a new flashcard. Even after teaching online for over a year, I still come across the need for other graphics that would improve my lessons!
A Canva Pro subscription gives you the choice of more images and different features such as ‘magic resizing’ and access to more templates and fonts. If you are a teacher in a brick and mortar school, they actually offer educators free Canva Pro subscriptions. However at the moment, online teaching doesn’t fall in to this category (don’t worry, I made them aware about the online teaching industry could benefit from this too!).
As mentioned above, I personally use Canva for a whole range of different things. As well as flashcards, they have a section dedicated to education templates for things like: worksheets (I actually made some free download travel themed activities sheets on Canva here: Free Printable Iowa Activity Sheets For Kids!), certificates, classroom decor and more. I use a big world map for my online classroom background, but I know a lot of tutors like to really go all out and make it look like a proper classroom, so this may be helpful too.
As Cambly Kids is on the lower paid side, some tutors will say that we ‘don’t get paid enough’ to be working for free. However, I find that being prepared and by having the flashcards, it just makes my life easier during lesson time. Once you’ve put in that little bit of extra work, it’s something that you can keep reusing and reusing. Until writing this post, the last flashcard I made was 4 months ago. I then made the one in the video above that took me next to no time, yet it will help me out every time I teach the lessons with that topic.
If you also plan to teach while on the road, having digital flashcards is a great option. I use an iPad but you could use a smaller tablet or mobile device. It saves on having to pack a bunch of props and a tablet can obviously be used for many other things too. I also use the SketchBook app as a whiteboard to write various words, draw pictures, demonstrate ‘circling’ etc. If I am really stuck and in need of a flashcard, I can temporarily draw one until I get round to making one!
Inspired to create your own flashcards for teaching English online? Pin it for later!