Flipping the Language Classroom

This is a syndicated post based on a post originally published on here, and (partially) reproduced below with permission. 

Flipped learning offers huge potential, especially in the world language classroom.  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 and authentic ways.

In our blog post Flipping the Classroom we talk about what more in-class time brings to the world language instruction.

Here are a few of the benefits, but there are many that you can leverage:

  • Target language usage: We can maximize target language usage in the classroom by working on interactive activities, rather than slipping into English during a particularly difficult grammar explanation.
  • Peer-teaching: students, when working together, frequently engage in scaffolding and peer-teaching, which can often be even more effective for some students than traditional teaching techniques.
  • Richer, in-depth activities: Multi-part activities can develop more naturally with the extra class time and give students ample opportunities to use the language, rather than rushing through them near the end of the class period.

One tool that could be used in flipping the classroom for language instruction is Extempore. First, record a brief demonstration of a new vocabulary or grammar topic you are covering. Next, you could have your students complete simple comprehension questions in the target language testing their ability to absorb and produce this new information in limited contexts.

For example you could:

  • Model standard pronunciation for students and ask that they submit their own attempts via the Extempore app. Then you could provide appropriate feedback to encourage improvement.
  • Ask simple yes/no, true/false, or basic comprehension questions based upon a chapter’s vocabulary list. Consider referencing images (either from the textbook or online) to guide them. Then, students submit their responses ahead of the next day’s class.
  • Have your students create a video journal as a type of self-reflective activity. Students can use them to comment on the lesson and ask questions that they may still have about the content.

Additionally, by flipping course instruction you allow your students to learn at their own pace. Combining this with formative assessments you encourage students to actively engage in the target language by practicing what they have just learned. For students with a high affective filter or those who are on the shyer side, this can be potentially beneficial in building their confidence speaking the language. Further, by using formative assessments on the content they have just learned, it helps students maintain a regular habit of speaking outside of the classroom where it could be lacking.

As you can see, flipped learning brings tremendous value in the language classroom because we can maximize target language usage. And as any language educator knows, the more your students speak in the target language, the better they get at communicating in it. Additionally, we shift students to take more responsibility for their own language learning which can be helpful for soft-spoken students since they are given additional opportunities to develop speaking competence.


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