Flipping the Classroom

Link to the reading:

http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/flipped-courses-concerns-rush-flip/

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As second-language teachers, we do not teach content. Instead, we teach language skills: listening, speaking, reading and writing. As our language learners may also be seeking entry into the labour market or are college-bound, they also need to learn how to problem-solve, analyze, discuss and ask questions. These outcomes, however, are not universal among cultures.

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Flipping the classroom provides us with a valuable opportunity by allowing us more time to inculcate higher-order thinking skills in the classroom through learner-centered tasks because the teacher-centered presentation phase of the lesson, in which a new language structure is introduced, and the receptive practice phase of the lesson, in which the learner is not asked to produce any language, can occur outside of the classroom.

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For example, if the target language is a set of seven vocabulary items, such as action verbs typically used in resumes to highlight workplace achievements, the presentation of these words (word family; definition; pronunciation, frequency, synonyms, connotation, collocation etc.), as well as the receptive practice of these words (hearing them; seeing them, matching words and definitions etc.) could be done outside the classroom, while the use of these words productively and their application in a real-world task could be done in the classroom. Essentially, this doubles the amount of time for the application of the learning.

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As Maryellen Weimer notes in her blog post, the flipped approach requires independent, self-directed learning on the part of the student, with supports that have been carefully designed by the instructor. The emphasis on self-directed learning is appropriate for all our learners as the ability to work without continuous guidance is desirable in both the post-secondary as well as workplace contexts. Our learners do not come with a blank slate, and many of them have post-secondary education backgrounds. In other words, they likely have developed good study skills and can take advantage of opportunities for self-directed learning. The real challenge for many is adapting to a learner-centered environment, whose focus is on inquiry and creating knowledge rather than rote learning and receiving instruction. For this reason, the more opportunities to experience this environment, the better. I would caution, as Weimer does, that beginner students may have unique needs that are less well-suited to the flipped-classroom approach.

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