Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

Colour-Coded Visual Cards…Vocabulary Learning & Sentence Building With Ease!

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sentence cards This year I took on the challenge of a course – Japanese Beginner’s 11 – that I had not taught for 8 years . Wow has my teaching changed. It’s a unique course designed for students that don’t have a foreign language credit who suddenly need one. It tries to cover 2 semesters of language learning in 1 semester – and when you consider that in Japanese that includes 3 orthographies – yikes!

One of my goals this year has been to help students learn and use vocabulary more confidently.  So for this I have set out to develop flashcards for each unit. Not just word flashcards – those are easy to make (thanks Quizlet) but rather ‘picture only’ flashcards.  Yes you can add visuals in Quizlet but it is a paid upgrade.

Visuals for the Cards (and in the Stories) – for each unit I like to have a basic set of vocabulary that gives us a ‘common’ language to interact in. So for each word I sought out a clip art (it photocopies best) picture to try to encapsulate the meaning. I use a lot for this – to ensure that I am not using copyrighted material. I use the same pictures to supplement our stories that we read – good repetitions. The technical support comes via our office photocopier which has a ‘combine 8 pages onto 1’ option – and voila – easy to see small cards.  I keep them in smaller envelopes ready to put into student baskets on the table to be ready to go.  So at the end I have small card flashcards and the original large pictures to put on the board.

bag coverColour-Coding By Area – the other key for me is colours. Yes we still have access to coloured paper at our school (I know not everyone does). So I code based upon content area. For the “What I Did…” unit that meant ‘white- actions’, ‘pink – places’, orange – ‘time frames’, green- ‘describing words’ and purple ‘transport’.  Okay – it takes a bit to cut out and fill the envelopes but once it’s done – they are ready to go.

Adding on the Fly/Adding to Subsequent Units – It’s my first run through this and I discover as I go along that I do sometimes need to add pictures. The other thing I find myself doing is reusing certain pictures – especially the ‘actions’ as I don’t want to isolate vocabulary but build on it.

Easy to Practice by Group – Wow – this has made short snappy review of key words easy. “Take out your orange cards….” and they are away. I like the ease of doing this and the ability to focus on one area. Perfect 1-2 minute prep for an activity.

Sentence-Building With Ease – Love this for l¥practicing putting sentences together. Students can easily start with simple sentences such as “I play baseball at the park”. Then they can pull in another card group – and they are now “I played baseball at the park yesterday.”. It is easy to swap vocabulary groups in/out to target certain structures. For Japanese in particular this is a great way to reinforce particle use – for example in practicing “Place で 〜ます。” vs. “Place に  Transportで いきます。”.

Colour coding visuals is new for this course but is already invaluable for me student learning. I look to expand this idea to other classes.



One Comment

  1. Hi Colleen,

    From your interest in Japanese language and tech tools, it seems like you would enjoy some games I’ve made here:

    In the Phrase Maze game you can use Quizlet flashcard sets.

    I hope you and your students enjoy them!


    Oliver Rose

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