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What is Flipped Classroom?
Flipped classroom is a relatively new form of teaching approach. Harvard professor, Eric Mazur played a significant role in its development with an instructional strategy he called peer instruction. Mazur published a book in 1997 outlining the strategy, entitled Peer Instruction: A User’s Manual.
Today, flipped learning has been defined as “a type of blended learning that reverses the traditional educational arrangement by delivering instructional content, online, outside of the classroom. It moves activities, including those that may have traditionally been considered homework, into the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or carry out research at home and engage in concepts in the classroom with the guidance of the instructor.”
(Abeysekera & Dawson, 2015) http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07294360.2014.934336)
Flipped classroom approaches are characterised by:
- a change in use of classroom time
- a change in use of out-of-class time
- doing activities traditionally considered ‘homework’ in class
- doing activities traditionally considered asin-class work out of class
- in-class activities that emphasise activelearning and peer learning
- pre-class activities
- post-class activities and
- use of technology, especially video.
Perhaps the most recognisable contributor to the flipped classroom is Salman Khan.
In 2004, Khan began recording videos at the request of a younger cousin he was tutoring because she felt that recorded lessons would let her skip segments she had mastered and replay parts that were troubling her. Salman Khan founded Khan Academy based on this model. For some, Khan Academy has become synonymous with the flipped classroom, however, these videos are only one form of the flipped classroom strategy.
Salman Khan speaking at a TED conference in 2011
As of May 2016, the Khan Academy channel on YouTube has more than 2.6 million subscribers and the Khan Academy videos have been viewed more than 840 million times
- is active and cooperative
- recognises that the learner has full responsibility for her/his learning
- acknowledges that involvement and participation are necessary for learning
- understands that the relationship between learners is more equal, promoting growth and development
- the teacher becomes a facilitator and resource personStudent-centred learning broadly encompasses methods of teaching that shift the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student. The theory and practice are based on the constructivist learning theory that emphasises the learner’s critical role in constructing meaning from new information and prior experience.Student-centred learning aims to develop learner autonomy and independence by putting responsibility for the learning path in the hands of students. This is in contrast to traditional education, also dubbed “teacher- centred learning”, which situates the teacher as the primarily “active” role while students take a more “passive”, receptive role. In contrast, student- centred learning requires students to be active, responsible participants in their own learning and with their own pace of learningStudent-centred learning emphasises each student’s interests, abilities, and learning styles, placing the teacher as a facilitator of learning for individuals rather than for the class as a whole.
What is a conversation?
Oxford English Dictionary; an informal talk involving a small group of people or only two.
When we think about a conversation we use words like spontaneous, relaxed, enjoyable, spur of the moment, impromptu, easygoing, smalltalk.
Whereas we tend to associate schools with words like planned, structured, organised, learning, timetable, etc..
Our first priority as teachers should be to present conditions in which conversations can flourish.
One of the most important and overlooked aspects on a conversation course is setting. We want our students to practise taking part in informal, spontaneous conversations yet expect this to happen in airless, drab classrooms, designed for formal study.
If you don’t think setting is important consider that other great human impulse; shopping. Most successful retailers invest considerable time,money and research into creating optimal conditions that encourage impulse buying. The objective is to have customers feel at ease and relaxed in their stores. The focus is on the act of shopping and not on the fact of spending money. Similarly, we need students focusing on the impulsive act of communication and not on the facts of language.
Setting Up Your Classroom for Effective Conversations
TIPP #1……remove desks.
This invaluable piece of advice was given to me on my first day as an ESL conversation teacher.
Classroom setup can dramatically affect students’ expectations and participation on a conversation course. In a “learning environment”most students expect to be seated at a desk,next to another student, facing forward. This set up,with a teacher at the apex (teacher-centred learning) is wholly unsuited to engaging conversation. Conversations, by their nature, are wholly participative and democratic. If not, the interaction cannot be considered conversational.
We should aim to replicate the spontaneous conditions in which normal conversation takes place; on a bus, at the hairdresser,in the garden, on a park bench, at the supermarket checkout. It doesn’t mean we have to install a park bench or double decker bus but we do need to remove any physical barriers that are hindering interaction.
As Karl Krahnke (English Department, Colorado State University) notes;
Placing students in a circle improves communication by allowing them to see each other’s faces and hear each other’s responses without straining. And having them move their chairs from rows and columns into a circle explicitly and concretely signals that a particular kind of class participation will soon be expected of them.
In a separate study on effective learning, Douglas Laird, highlights the mutual benefits of working in a circle as follows
Most democratic and unencumbered with no status symbol With no table each person is “totally revealed”
Subtle nonverbal communications are possible
There will be conversations, shorter inputs, and more members will participate when they sit in a circle.
Why pair work ?
What is the most efficient use of a student’s time?
Simple mathematics tells us that on a typical conversation course (2 x 45min =90) with 12 participants, each learner would receive just 7.5 mins of teacher time, if the teacher concentrates solely on individuals. Furthermore, the other 11 will be listening or inactive for 82.5 mins.
Two is the optimum number for engaging on a conversational course.
By working in pairs we can, theoretically, increase talking time dramatically to 45 mins with an equal amount of time dedicated to listening.
In pairs or small groups (max 3) students learn from and help each other. They can compare and discuss answers, share ideas, opinions and experiences.
- talk more
- share ideas
- learn from each other
- be more involved
- feel more secure
- get to use English in a meaningful and realistic way
- enjoy communicating in English.For further information on using pair work please see Liz Regan’s excellent advice herehttp://www.tefl.net/teaching/teaching-tips.htm
Immersive English and Learning a Foreign Language
The question I hear most often from students is, “how can I improve my English? In response, I place the students in pairs and ask them them to come up with three or four suggestions about the best way to improve English, or any language.
Doing this, at the very beginning of a course, demonstrates a number of important characteristics
1: The course is student centred. Not looking to the teacher for answers. Every student is already fluent in their own mother tongue and have experience of the real world. They have their own opinions. When it comes to conversation, the teacher’s opinion is no more valid than that of the students. It’s important to highlight this fact on day one, because it indicates that students will be taking responsibility for their own learning
2: All questions are valid and can be used as material in the classroom
3: Students get maximum benefit out of the course by working together in pairs. Conversation is a democratic process. You wouldn’t normally hold a conversation with someone who wants to dominate, and equally you will be less inclined to talk with someone who isn’t listening. Working in pairs encourages real communication. It helps focus listening and teaches students to be aware of each other’s body language. In groups containing three or more, certain individuals can easily disengage and let others lead the conversation. This is not possible with two.
And what is the number one suggestion for learning a language?
In my experience, the number one suggestion is to move to a country where the target language is spoken.
What does that say about the majority of courses on offer?
It says, that learning a foreign language in a classroom setting is a compromise; it is not the best available system.
My lessons are a small attempt at replicating how language is learnt in a country where the target language is spoken.
When people learn a second language, they do so in a variety of ways.
The three main learning styles are: visual (75%), auditory (13%), kinesthetic/ tactile. (Approach to Training and Development, Douglas Laird)
By incorporating these features in each lesson, students receive a feature of real world experience. The news/documentaries/videos/reading exercises are not edited to suit any particular language level (A1/A2, B1/B2, etc.)
Participating students are required to be active learners, using homework and the allocated time (6 days) to familiarise themselves with the material,and come to class well prepared and looking forward to taking part in small discussions.
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Personal Profile: Frank McGirr
My name is Frank Mc Girr. I moved to Bremen in 2008 and began teaching English at the VHS in 2009. Since 2011, I only deliver what might be called non standard courses. The number of students currently attending my courses is more than 120 per week
Immersive English A course designed to improve fluency in English.
The programme is a combination of individual study and group practise. It’s student centred, and runs on the principles of flipped learning.. Each lesson plan contains teacher’s notes which outlines a timeframe,instructions for each activity and prompts for when students should swap partners.
The teacher’s role is that of a mentor whose primary function is ensuring the atmosphere is conducive to conversation
The course contains two important,complimentary elements
2: Classroom based: Group practise
1 Online: Individual learning Students access learning material 5/6 days in advance of each class. The material is made up of reading, writing, listening, vocabulary exercises, comprehension and discussion questions. The students can work at their own pace,allowing them to become familiar with the material and using the time preparing to talk about the topic in the next classroom activity.
2 Classroom: Group practise As much as possible the focus of the classroom should be practising conversation,and preferably in pairs.
Contact us for more details
Please feel free to contact us for more details on our Workshops, The English Language Film Club, and Immersive English. We welcome all comments as we aim to provide high quality, interactive courses through which students can improve fluency.