The term “Flipped Classroom” was originally coined by two high school science teachers, Jon Bergman and Aaron Sams (Their book – Flip your classroom – Reach every student in every class everyday). The story was that the teachers discovered that lecturing to students was not an effective mean of teaching, so they started recording their lectures, making the videos available to learners. This way, they discovered class time can be focused more on interactions between teachers and learners and among learners. And as they started flipping their classrooms, as more of their instructions became available online, they learned that their classes no longer needed to progress in a linear fashion and that the students no longer needed to learn at the same pace. Eventually, these teachers would begin the class by dividing the students into groups according to the needs of individual learners. This idea ultimately spread to universities where lectures are the primary mode of imparting knowledge.
Coming back to a language classroom. In language classes, most instructors don’t really lecture. But this flipped classroom idea means for language teachers is we can examine
1) how we can more effectively use class time;
2) how we can use open educational resources to deliver personalized, targeted learning experience.
For higher level EAP (English for Academic Purposes) learners, there is enough open source content and open textbooks, lectures, and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) targeted to specific university majors. Instructors can use these resources to meet learners’ specific needs. What’s more, the instructors can use the FLAX (Flexible Language Acquisition) software, to create vocabulary and collocation activities that provide language support. (See my other blog post for what FLAX is).
As for lower level teachers it is sometimes hard to find open learning content. However, we now have the technology (like wikis and blogs) to host learner-generated content. For instance, the reading material for lower level students can be created and continually improved upon by upper level students and their instructors. And the FLAX software can be used to generate language practice for the students.