Sanako is a Finnish Educational Tech company helping schools and language teachers to improve language teaching efficiency and results.
No matter what language you teach or what sort of institution you teach in, it is increasingly essential for language teachers to integrate online teaching techniques into their lesson delivery. One increasingly common teaching strategy involves teachers using a flipped classroom methodology. This language teaching method is based on setting a series of preparation tasks for students to complete before their next lesson.
The subsequent lesson is then typically more impactful and contains more opportunities for students to practice and prioritize the core language skills of listening, reading, speaking, and writing. This blog post explores the benefits of the flipped classroom for language teachers and outlines how Sanako’s virtual classroom solution, Sanako Connect, is perfectly positioned to support teachers using the flipped classroom method.
What is the flipped classroom?
As described by Harrison (2013), the flipped classroom represents a reversal of the standard model of teaching. It involves
“delivering instruction to students at home through self-study materials and moving the ‘homework’ element to the classroom.”
Students, therefore, use their own study time to review prepared or recommended online resources or to do research around a particular topic or grammatical construct. As the preparation has been completed before class (online or face-to-face), the educator can then make the most of the invaluable time with their class to participate in a conversation and to complete supported activities.
The 6 main benefits of the flipped classroom model for language teachers
A detailed review of the leading research on the subject identifies 6 main reasons why the flipped classroom is an effective language teaching method. They include:1. The flipped classroom is perfect for teaching languages! - There’s no better way to improve your language skills than by practicing speaking and listening in your target language. This is exactly what the flipped classroom allows time in class for, whether online or face-to-face. Students are able to learn and practice key grammar concepts at their own pace at home and then join lessons fully prepared to put their learning into practice in class.
2. The flipped classroom allows more efficient use of class time - Traditional passive learning tasks take place outside of the classroom, so that class time can be used to prioritize meaningful engagement with the students. Educators have more time to interact with students, clarifying key points and supporting individual learning journeys.
3. The flipped classroom can create more active learning opportunities - The language teaching classroom now offers individual students the opportunity to focus on developing their core skills, which are traditionally difficult to deliver in a traditional classroom environment. Class time is therefore focused on revising key points, undertaking controlled practice, or working on a project as a class/group.
4. Using the flipped classroom method increases one-on-one opportunities - Educators are no longer acting in their traditional role. Rather they are focused on supporting students with and through hands-on activities and helping students to problem solve.
5. Flipped classroom is a student-led learning method - Students need to ensure that they are fully prepared when coming into class and therefore have to take responsibility for their own learning.
6. Flipped classroom allows personalized learning - Furthermore, as most of the pre-class resources are online, every student has greater control over the speed and mode of instruction. Preparatory videos or podcasts can, for example, be paused or repeated as required, enabling students to take as long as they need to understand the material. Students can also, of course, review the material whenever they want rather than fitting in around a planned schedule.
How can you put the flipped classroom into practice?
Switching your language teaching approach to leverage the benefits of the flipped classroom is significantly easier with an online classroom software solution such as Sanako Connect. Not only does it support powerful lesson delivery in online-only scenarios, but it is also highly effective in hybrid settings, where the in-class time is delivered face-to-face. In essence, there are 2 key steps to bear in mind when moving to the flipped classroom language teaching method.
Step 1: You’ll need an online environment where students access preparatory materials
Sanako Connect is the perfect tool to support language educators to create and share online learning resources with their students. Everything students need to prepare for their next lesson from home is stored in one platform, helping to improve teaching efficiency and the overall learning experience.
It’s also really easy for teachers to share content with their students through Sanako’s virtual classroom. Educators create a new lesson directly in the online classroom and then simply circulate a unique URL to all participating learners. Students just have to click on that link to access their preparatory material. There’s no need for them to download any apps, so no IT set-up or data protection issues to worry about either!
In Sanako Connect, teachers can create as many sessions, or classes, as they want. Students can access each session by clicking the session URL.
Once a student accesses the lesson, they will be immediately directed to the teacher’s instructions (or associated lesson plan) that outline key learning objectives. Sanako Connect allows educators to attach these as documents or they can be easily recorded and attached as sound files. Importantly, the virtual classroom also enables students to access the materials whenever they’re ready (asynchronous learning) and students are also able to learn at their own pace.
Step 2: You’ll need the learning materials themselves
Evidently, educators will also need to populate the virtual classroom with engaging and relevant learning materials. So how does Sanako Connect help them to do that?
Well, Sanako Connect combines the best bits of a physical language lab with all of the elements of a virtual classroom environment. Connect makes it easy for teachers to upload a wide variety of learning material for students to use. Any number of PDFs, presentations, YouTube videos, and web pages can, for example, be easily attached to an online lesson plan and shared with students. Connect also allows educators to embed external source code, enabling them to access and use third-party apps within the Connect environment (eg. Quizlet, Google Docs, Slides, etc.).
Educators can also use Connect to create tasks for students based on this material. These include for example model imitation, video tasks, oral language assessments, or fill-in-the-blanks tasks for students. All of these language learning activities can be created by educators in minutes.
Specifically, Sanako Connect also enables educators to quickly set up a variety of practice speaking tasks and oral language assessments for students. They can either be tasked to record themselves reading aloud or responding to a pre-prepared piece of content. Alternatively, educators can create an original soundtrack, which the student then attempts to emulate using Sanako Connect’s advanced, two-track recording functionality.
Sanako's tools help teachers to increase their students' speaking skills and pronunciation. The two-track recorder is a great tool for creating model-imitation exercises and oral language assessments.