Language teaching: In-flipped English classroom

Àrea de Llengües Estrangeres

Helena Ruiz, professora a la FPCEE Blanquerna-URL

Oral language development is one of the hardest language areas to assess and deal with in an English language class. One of the main reasons for that is that English language teachers are always looking at both the content and the language development of their students. The savvy introduction of technology and the use of the flipped classroom approach can contribute to enhancing not only English language learning but could also help assess students’ language development.

The Flipped Learning Network in its 2013 Executive Summary reported the advantages of the flipped classroom approach by showing how it can increase students’ achievement and engagement. However, the traditional flipped classroom approach in which students are asked to watch some video lessons at home and then practise the content of the video lesson in class might not always be possible. English language teachers should also take into account that, sadly, not all their students have the necessary resources at home to flip their English classes. Does this mean that those teachers have to abandon the idea of using the flipped classroom approach in their English classes?

Do not give up yet. This difficulty should not stop English teachers from trying the flipped classroom model. The alternative is called the in-flipped classroom. It “consists of bringing the flip into the classroom by doing the home part of the flip through station work”. (Barnes & Gonzalez, 2015). Students watch pre-recorded videos at school before the lesson instead of pre-watching the videos at home. Middle school language arts teacher and university instructor for future teachers Jennifer Gonzalez shows us in this short video the teaching configuration for a Spanish as a foreign language in-class flip that could also be easily adapted to any other language class.

In an English classroom, this flip will not only avoid the home-related problems of the traditional flip but, like in a more traditional flip, it will also allow the teacher to address individual students’ difficulties and doubts in the learning of the language. With this alternative approach, language teachers could also benefit from the advantages of the traditional flip. Teachers can, therefore, focus more on the areas of oral development. Specifically, in skills such as listening and speaking, which are so important to become a fluent English language speaker. On the one hand, in the case of listening skills, teachers can not only make sure that students are actually watching the video and understanding its content, but they can also ask and answer students’ questions with more immediacy. On the other hand, students will be engaged in communicative tasks such as discussions or roleplays that require the use of spoken language.

This class interaction and the use of spoken language will hopefully also facilitate teachers in assessing the students’ oral abilities. All in all, by using this alternative to the traditional flip, English language teachers will also be able to benefit from this all-the-rage approach and focus on both content and language development for each English language student.