What is flipped learning and how does it work?
What is Flipped Learning? Flipped learning is a teaching strategy whereby the traditional ideas of classroom-based learning are turned upside down.
Traditionally the learners are introduced to the learning material in class, and the teacher spends most of the class time explaining the new ideas and concepts. The learners do exercises and write assignments on the topic but are given little or no time to discuss, think about, or really use this new information.
With flipped learning, the learners get the new material before class and are given tasks to do, which are related to the topic, before the scheduled class. The classroom time is then used to practice using the new information through discussion, role-plays, and other problem-solving activities. When learning a language by this method, learners are encouraged to speak, think, and generally use the language in an everyday way. This rapidly increases their confidence in using the language and helps them to quickly achieve their goals.
The flippedinstitute.org created this short video to explain how the flipped classroom works. https://vimeo.com/62238077 The concept is also discussed in this short video from WIRED: Khan Academy. https://vimeo.com/26787727
Where did flipped learning come from?
The idea of flipped learning has been around for a long time, but the phrase ‘flipped learning’ only came into everyday use in the early to mid-2000s. The use of it has grown along with the growth and availability of the internet. Teachers and learners alike now have access to a wealth of knowledge on the net and this knowledge is now delivered in a variety of ways including videos, podcasts, exercises for reuse, articles, etc. With so much information available, the teacher is no longer the holder of all the knowledge in a textbook, but rather they have become a guide to finding the knowledge that is out there. The teachers are the coach, helping the learner to utilize the wealth of information already at their fingertips and then, once they have done the preliminary work, bringing the learner into the classroom where they can demonstrate their understanding of the topic, put what they have learned into practice and gain personalised coaching where required.
Universities and schools in the US were early adopters of the flipped model, and the concept has gained traction in the UK and with many language schools and teachers around the world.
What are the potential benefits of flipped learning?
By providing the learners with the material to gain a good level of knowledge and understanding before class, classroom time can be used to put what they have learned into practice. In the learning session, they get to use and think about the new knowledge they have gained. They use their new language skills in context and gain confidence in using the language. They are no longer just passively learning by listening to teachers, they are now active learning. In this context, the role of the teacher shifts towards that of facilitator and coach by empowering students to take control of their learning.
Some students who are still familiar with conventional mode of lecture-based teaching from school days might find the use of flipped learning a little strange but, at The English Language Coach, we have found that adult learners prefer the flipped method as it treats them like adults, and allows them to have more control of what and when they learn. They appreciate the fact that they get to do most of the speaking in class and can use their new knowledge in context. They can relate their knowledge to their everyday jobs and gain confidence in using and thinking in English, rather than just doing a lesson.
At The English Language Coach we use both flipped and standard lessons for our courses but in all our courses it is the student who do most of the talking and the lessons are structured to ensure you the most from them.