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The Flipped Language Classroom

Flipped-Classroom-250x220  Flipped learning – or the flipped classroom – is one of the new trends which have influenced many educators more or less. The purpose of flipping the classroom is to shift from passive to active learning to focus on the higher order thinking skills such as   analysis, sytnthesis and evaluation.

The flipped classroom describes a reversal of traditional teaching where students gain first exposure to new material outside of class, usually via reading or lecture videos, and then class time is used to do the harder work of assimilating that knowledge through strategies such as problem-solving, discussion or debates. (Vanderbilt University, Center for Teaching).

The journey begins with this:




So, what exactly is the flipped classroom and what could it mean for ELT? How well would the concept even work for language teaching?


In the flipped learning approach, students access course content on their own outside of class and then interact in class with their instructor and peers, as they engage in activities directly related to what they have viewed. There are many ways to implement flipped learning, but all include this basic principle: direct instruction takes place out of class while practice and application take place in class (Bergmann & Sams, 2012).


A modified/expanded version of the basic flipped classroom is the Explore-Flip-Apply (Musallam, 2013). In this model, there is an initial in-class exploration phase. Once the students have built/developed/ background knowledge, they watch the pre-recorded lesson video at on their own time. Subsequently, class time is used to review and expand upon the original material presented in the exploration and continue on to other related content and skills.

IMG_0183It’s a nice setup because students listening to lesson materials at home can set whatever pace they are comfortable with. For example, lower level students can view materials multiple times and higher level students can breeze through everything more quickly. In a traditional classroom, students of various levels all have to follow the same pace set by the teacher and this is less than ideal for many students. In flipped classrooms, teachers are more involved in practice activities which are done in class, rather thanfor homework. This allows teachers to see exactly where students struggle and adjust their teaching accordingly. For ESL/EFL classes, the flipped classroom approach is wonderful because it maximizes the amount of time students speak English in class and minimizes the amount of teacher talk time. http://blog.tesol.org/the-flipped-classroom/

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img_01841.jpgFor struggling L2 learners, the Explore-Flip-Apply flipped classroom model is modified by incorporating Freire’s Problem Posing Approach (1970) adapted by Auerbach (1992) for second language learners. Teachers introduce the lesson with a situation presented through a document, a photo, a story, a scenario, artwork, or other accounts. These items, when used for problem posing, are known as “codes.” In the Explore-Flip-Apply model, students first examine the code for a given lesson, identify the problem posed by the code, consider how it relates to their lives and/or what they are studying, and then assess what knowledge they already have that can be brought to bear on the situation. Next, they work together to ascertain what they do not yet know that the teacher may be able to explain or teach them. Then the teacher flips the classroom by preparing the background information for the out-of-class presentation that will assist learners in responding to the code with ideas and solutions. A major benefit of Explore- Flip-Apply is that students have an explicit reason or reasons to view the video because they are looking for concepts, language, or tools that will help them to address the unresolved issues they faced during the guided inquiry phase.


Videos to have a look:


The Flipped Learning Approach in Adult ESL Classrooms
Helaine W. Marshall, 2013

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