How to Use Flashcards the Right Way

I constantly tell my students, “repeat, repeat, repeat… It’s the only way to learn.” But did you know that there are ways to make repetition more effective? One of those ways is by using flashcards. You can either make your own, using small index cards (most effective) or by using phone apps (most time-saving).

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you choose to make your own flashcards:

  • Only add one word or concept on each card. If you put more than one word it becomes too confusing. On the opposite side, put the translation or the definition plus an example.
  • Write in big letters so it will be easier to read.
  • Be concise. Do not add a long explanation or example.
  • If possible, add a drawing that will help you connect the word/concept to its definition/translation.
  • Review your flashcards with a partner. If someone else is not available, then speak your answer out loud before flipping to the other side.
  • Practice your flashcards in both directions. This works best if the opposite side is a translation to your native language. For example, first practice from English to German and then from German to English. This will help solidify the word in your long term memory.
  • Most importantly, review your cards every few days. There is no point in making flashcards if you are not going to practice them.

In a future blog, I will discuss the apps I use to practice new vocabulary. For now, have fun making your flashcards.


  • index card (noun): a small card on which information is recorded.
  • concise (adj.): giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive.
  • out loud (phrase): If you say or read something out loud, you say it or read it so that it can be heard, rather than just thinking it.
  • solidify (verb): make stronger; reinforce.

Comprehension Questions

  1. What are the two ways to make flashcards?
  2. What should you put on the opposite side of a flashcard?
  3. Is it ok to put a long explanation on your flashcard?
  4. What should you do if you don’t have a partner to review with?
  5. How often should you review your flashcards?

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