Perhaps you’ve seen our list of activity ideas for the Extempore app. One of them brings up the idea of “flipping” (or “inverting”) the classroom. Flipping the classroom isn’t really an activity; it’s more of an approach towards presenting–and ultimately putting into practice–the course content. What does this all mean exactly? Let’s talk about flipping a little more, then, because it’s still a bit of novel approach to teaching but it has a ton of potential, especially in the world language classroom.
The basic idea behind flipping a classroom is that the teacher provides the students with the “first exposure” to the new content outside of the classroom in anticipation of meeting face-to-face. The teacher can pre-record and deliver electronically the introductory information (e.g. new vocabulary, a grammar explanation, pronunciation) ahead of time. This frees up the teacher from the oftentimes burdensome task of lecturing the basics to a roomful of students, each of whom will be processing the new information at his or her own pace. But really, the true benefit of flipping lies in what happens in class with the extra time now that the lecture component has been given in advance. We teachers certainly understand that time is the most precious of resources!
Now with more time in class, we can prioritize engaging and collaborative tasks that allow learners to use the language in interaction with peers in meaningful, authentic ways. Rather than spending 10 minutes at the beginning of class asking students to complete a matching activity where they simply recognize new verb forms, we can start the class period right away working together to complete an interview task or to write a unique story using the new verb conjugations. In doing so, we fight back against that pesky urge that many of us teachers have to assume the Atlas role of being the sole distributor of all knowledge. Instead, we can embrace a more communicative, learner-centered experience, where students are in charge of their own learning.
Come back to our site next week for a new blog post where I’ll talk a little bit more about what flipping the classroom might actually look like in your world language classroom!