- There are a host of web sites nowadays, most of them free, to help students keep their own flashcards online. See http://www.studystack.com/ for a list of the popular ones.
- Most of these flashcard sites have some kind of monitoring system. The classic method developed by Leitner (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leitner_system for a quick summary of Leitner's spaced repetition system) is often applied. In this case, students simply review the flashcards, and indicate whether they know the word or not and they then see the word again according to the algorithm that Leitner developed.
- Other flashcard sites provide games, activities and quizzes that recycle the content from the flashcards to challenge students to test themselves.
I've been a real fan of QUIZLET, but recently a colleague, Sercan Çelik, passed on a link to a different flashcard site, http://www.studystack.com/, which I thought I'd try. It offers a host of fun and motivating games to play with the words you are learning, as well as quizzes.
- I used the Common English Lexical Framework (see http://www.icrj.eu/13-75 for the research basis for CELF in a CLIL context) as the basis for my stacks, and created a set of words from the CEFR A1 level from the original research data.
- Here is a link to the 11 sets (each about 100 words) for A1 vocabulary from the Common English Lexical Framework: http://www.studystack.com/users/740936925
- You can also link to one specific stack, or embed the stack in a web page
- Try one of the sets out.
- First you have to review the words.
- Click on the card to flip it and check to see if you could identify the missing word from the prompt.
- If you can, then you move the card to the CORRECT stack.
- If you couldn't, move the card to the INCORRECT stack.
- Then pick the next card in the stack, and continue.
If you want, you can compare this flashcard site with Quizlet by looking at my QUIZLET stack for the same words: http://quizlet.com/2203236/cefr-a1-most-common-words-in-english-flash-cards/ -- here I have the entire set as one stack, and I've included a 'hint' in the prompt (the first letter or two of a word, and how many characters the word has). But the main difference is the number of activities one has to choose from in StudyStack as compared with Quizlet.
How to use this with students?
- I am a fan of Paul Nation, Paul Meara and Michael McCarthy, so I favour a systematic approach to learning the most commonly used words in English.
- The Lexitronics Research Group has made available the Common English Lexical Framework on a BY-NC-SA Creative Commons licence, so I am going to build up card stacks of 100 words a stack from the CELF for A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.
What I like about this tool
- Really easy to create cards from pre-existing data.
- Students can build their own cards.
- Stacks can be protected or open for sharing, so I can let me students copy the lists they want and they can add it to their own stacks, with translations or additional example sentences, definitions, synonyms, etc. Stacks can also be built collaboratively.
- Students can download the stack to their computer or their smart phone, and review the words wherever they are.
- Easy to produce simple matching quizzes or wordsearch puzzles to monitor students' progress.
What I'm not so sure about
- The CORRECT and INCORRECT flagging at the beginning do not follow a spaced reptition system like Leitner's. It only works for the one time viewing the card stack.
- You can't seem to group your sets in a folder or with a label. However, you can link to all the sets you create, and if you name your sets logically, you can sort by name and description. Otherwise, if you want to direct students to particular sets of flashcards, you can have a web page (or a blog post) with the links to individual sets.
- For example, this is a link to the all the sets of a user 'stindy' http://www.studystack.com/users/Stindy Note that you can click on any of the headings in the table to sort the sets.
- Here is a link to one particular set from that account: http://www.studystack.com/flashcards-694885
- This can be a good thing if you are building card stacks for students to add their own content, but if you have a fixed set of cards and you don't want any changes, it can be problematic.
- As a precaution, you can 'download' the flashcard set regularly as a 'back up', and if there is ever a point where you need to 'restore' the flashcard set, you can delete it and then create a replacement set by importing the saved 'back up' data.
Any comments or suggestions?