The Comprehensible Classroom

In most content based classes, "flipping the classroom" is a term used to describe a manner of teaching in which students learn new content from videos or other resources on their own time, then come together and apply their knowledge with the guidance of a teacher. In a traditional model, students are learning new content in class and then practicing and applying their new knowledge at home. A flipped classroom reverses this model!

In a Comprehension-based language class, teachers can do something similar. They might give students videos (readings, audio) to work with from home, at their own pace, and use face to face time to create stories, connections, and shared experiences in the language (think One Word Images, Story AskingSpecial Person Interviews, etc.).  Teachers do this because the goal is often to create connections in the target language, and also because they want to make sure that students understand the language that they are hearing or reading. While we do not advocate for assigning homework to students, using this flipped model for hybrid courses that have both asynchronous and synchronous class time can be quite valuable if we look critically at the activities being completed during each module. 

In general, consider using face to face time to create connections with language through shared experiences, and use asynchronous time for students to work with that language at their own pace. Introducing new words to students during independent time (for example, through videos viewed during asynchronous lessons) is not recommended because the teacher has no way of determining whether or not the new language is being comprehended by the student. Instead, consider these options for asynchronous class time:

  • Lessons from Garbanzo, all of which include formative comprehension checks to support understanding.
  • Self-paced readings with GoogleSlides or something like Pear Deck or Near Pod.  
  • Pre-recorded videos of the teacher reading a story or text
  • Teacher- made Edpuzzles
  • Other reading and listening tasks: the sky is the limit!  

The key to success in this model is that the "texts"  (reading and listening) are related to, if not identical , to the texts that you created as a classroom community in your face to face time. They are familiar and comprehensible to students, and provide valuable input for language acquisition. 

If you are being asked to flip your classroom, it might be helpful to have a conversation with your administrator to see what the purpose of "flipping" is, and whether their purpose for advocating for a flipped model is applicable to acquisition-focused language classes. 

These ideas are discussed in this Fun Club video: Big Ideas for Distance Learning with Martina Bex and Elicia Cárdenas

Explore these other resources for Distance Learning:

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