a story about bad grammar and non-existent punctuation and my TEFL adventures
Have you ever found been bored in your own classroom? I have, many times. It’s not that I’m boring – though I’m sure on some days I’m funnier than others – but it was because it was when I didn’t have anything to do because my students were reading or doing a grammar or vocabulary exercise. I always assumed that it came with the territory and a necessary evil, but for the last while I’ve begun to think differently.
Many of you have heard of the flipped classroom, I’m sure. It’s not a new idea and it makes sense. The Khan Academy is probably the most well-known example of the flipped classroom. For those who don’t know, the basic premise is that students do what they can outside the classroom, so that the precious time spent with their teacher and classmates can be used mot beneficially. Effectively, students watch videos or do readings at home and they spend class-time asking any questions they may have or using the information learned at home in activities.
This started out as a method for the mainstream classroom but it has slowly been making its way into the EFL classroom. I have found, though, that it is not always easy to do this because EFL content does not always lend itself to self-study. Also, the indoctrination of PPP has led us all to believe that we need to, well, be present to present, if you see what I mean.
So I thought about how it would be possible to bring the flipped idea into the EFL classroom, and I came to the conclusion that it is indeed very possible and also very do-able. I have tried this with a few classes (private students) and it worked well and managed to limit my boredom during the lessons.
Ideas for integrating flipping into your classroom:
1: If there’s a reading, let them do it at home. This will give them time to look up new words and make sense of the reading. By discussing the reading in class, you will ensure comprehension and give them a chance to practice the new vocabulary. The class-time can then be spent on vocabulary activities or games to reinforce the learning.
2: Grammar explanations and exercises can also be done at home. Coursebooks usually have very good grammar reference material that we usually refer at the end of the lesson. Turn that around and let the students read it for themselves and try to figure out what it all means. In class, students can teach each other or discuss the grammar together and any wrong exercise questions can be discussed. Or you could build up a situation that lends itself to the grammar and use that to practise in class, when you are on hand to correct when necessary.
3: If you prefer to keep your coursework for the classroom (so you can have time to fill in the register or finish marking), you can still give your students work to do at home that will help set up the lesson. Starting a new unit? Come up with some topic-based questions they can research or think about at home, so they will come to class armed with ammunition for a discussion.
Of course, I’m not advocating that your students do all the coursebook work at home and you sit and have a fat chat in class, but think about introducing a bit of variety into your usual routine and think about flipping your lessons on their head once in a while.