Flipping the Classroom

Link to the reading:



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.


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.