Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Making Electronic Flashcards

Flashcards are a great way for students to memorize vocabulary. In the old days, we'd make flashcards by cutting up slips of paper and writing the English word on one side and the target translation on the other side. These days it's easy to do the same thing online.

CueFlash is one site that makes it fun and easy to make flashcards. You can search for an existing deck of flashcards, like this one for Coushatta tame animals. Or you can make your own flashcards by signing up for a free account. CueFlash allows special characters, but it isn't easy to enter them. The simplest way is probably to find the character you need on a website somewhere, and then to paste that into CueFlash.

CueFlash is designed for use on the web. If you're willing to download a program, you can make more sophisticated flashcards. One of the best free programs is Anki, which allows you to use images or sounds instead of words as the cues. The instructor could prepare decks of cards, and students would have to download the Anki program and the prepared decks.CueFlash and Anki both use programs that repeat flashcards based on how well you know them. The Anki system is more advanced, but CueFlash is more convenient.

Learning a language requires a great deal of memorization. Flashcards are an old-fashioned memory system that, with a few updates, still serves a useful purpose.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Designing a T-shirt

One way to boost pride in a language is to make the language visible with t-shirts, books, bumper stickers, and signs. These days designing a custom t-shirt online is really easy. I decided to make the shirt below.The first step was to make the drawing. I used a free online drawing program called artpad to make my masterpiece. I then took a screenshot of the image (pressing CTRL+PrtSc in Vista), and pasted that in a free image editor called IrfanView. That made it possible to crop and save the image on my desktop. Then I opened up a browser and went to Zazzle, a company that does custom printing. I selected the type of shirt, uploaded my image, and added the Coushatta label "chos-ka-ni". The resulting t-shirt cost $15.95 + $4.50 for shipping. And it's one of a kind!

I can't wait to tell people I'm Duck Clan!