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The Flipped Class: Evolution or Revolution?

June 9, 2013

I gave a plenary speech on the flipped class as evolution or revolution.  My argument is that for English Language Teachers the flipped class approach is an evolution in best practices for language teaching.   The emphasis of language pedagogy has consistently emphasized learner-centeredness.  If we look at the designer methods from the 80’s, the Silent Way, TPR, Community Language Learning, they emphasized the learner and often tried to get the teacher out of the way of the learning.  This focus on learners and giving the learners control over aspects of their learning has pushed English Language Teachers (ELTs) toward teaching approaches that differ much from traditional teacher-centered approaches.  

ELTs have focused on the learner pretty much from the start of their careers although we may have felt a tension between the teacher-centered and learner-centered approaches, or perhaps it is just me.  Most of us were taught in teacher-centered classes, and the teachers we have sought as role models may have been those types of teachers.  Adjusting to the learner-centered approach has required many adjustments in our mental models, but those adjustments (in my case continuing adjustments) seem more necessary at this time in which traditional teacher-centered approaches have been shown to be less effective with contemporary learners.

I think ELTs will find the flipped class model more of an evolutionary step in their growth as teachers.  It enables more time for teachers to work with individual and small groups.  Some teachers have found their ways to doing this without the flip.  For me, the flip has provided a way to do what I have always wanted but coult not figure out how to do.

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