How to flip the language classroom?

There is a lot of talking amongst educators about the Flipped classroom and whether it is the new revolutionary teaching and learning method! Some educators have adopted this model straight away, some are thinking about it, some are dubious. I have been thinking about it and I must say the concept appeals to me because it is centred on using technology. However I do or did not see how it could be applied to languages since language lessons are very teacher-led and instructional . My dear mum shared this infographic which explains well what the flipped classroom is about:

<a href="" ><img class="colorbox-21031" src="

" alt="Flipped Classroom" title="Flipped Classroom" width="600" height="2831" /></a>
<p>Created by <a href="" >Knewton</a> and <a href="" onclick="javascript:_gaq.push(['_trackEvent','outbound-article','']);">Column Five Media</a></p>

According to this explanation, here is how I could see the language classroom being flipped:

At home

  • Students watch presentations about a topic, vocabulary and sentences at home. For example, Steve Smith has set up a wonderful website full of French and Spanish resources with clear presentations to introduce new vocabulary. I have been using a lot of Spanish presentations made by Cécile Genneviève from Northallerton College and I love them because they are concise and effective. Instead of showing those presentations in class, students would watch them at home. It implies that there is sound too so that they know how to pronounce the words! In order to do so, teachers would have to film themselves presenting a topic (which means more work at first). Presentz seems a good option as you can synchronise videos and slides.
  • Students practice vocabulary with online flashcards via Quizlet or Memrise. Teachers can create the list of words they want the students to retain. As an example, I want my students to talk in French about Christmas. To that end, they would first study the words related to Christmas on Quizlet at home.
  • Students watch a short video about a topic you want to discuss in class. For example, when I started to introduce the topic of Amerindians in South America with my Spanish B students, they could have watched the life of Diego Riviera at home. They would have been able to go at their own pace in the comfort of their own home.

In the classroom

  • Students spend time practising what they have learned at home by doing speaking activities in pairs or groups and/or by playing games. More classroom time is then spend on conversations and producing sentences rather than repeating words.
  • Teachers can have one to one conversations with students in the target language whilst the rest of the class does the above. That way, teachers have more valuable time to spend on each student which should be beneficial in the long term.
  • Students do writing and reading tasks based on what they have viewed at home. Teachers can help students individually.

Now, I am not a huge fan of homework (especially when it is to keep students busy) and I do agree when @teachermrw says it "hinges heavily on homework". However here homework would not be writing or filling in the gaps of a worksheet, it would be mainly based on listening, which should engage students more. Because it is based on acquiring new words and expressions, I believe that the work done at home should not last more than 15 minutes. The presentations and videos should last 5 minutes and the time spent on flashcards should also last between 5 and 10 minutes. Moreover, when learning a new language, students should be "in contact" with that language everyday, even if they don't have a lesson that day. Practising regularly, even for a short time, is the key to success. In that case I think it could be "useful" homework, especially because students don't have enough lesson time devoted to languages. In an ideal world and to make the flipped classroom work, schools should adapt their timetables with time for students to self-study and then time with teachers.

Another issue is that some students do not have Internet access at home. A solution to that problem would be to give those students Internet access at school, which would mean that they either stay at school at the end of the day or they do come early in the morning (which is not ideal!). Again, the school timetable should be rethought!

All in all, I can see more positive aspects than negative ones. I can see that the time spent with the teacher would be more productive and as in the infographic above mentions, I can see students being less frustrated as more individual help is available.

What do you think? Have you flipped your classroom?

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