It’s not unusual to be reading an educational article and come across the concept of the “flipped classroom,” but… what does flipping an ESL class mean?

A flipped class is one that modifies the traditional cycle of content acquisition and the way it’s applied so that students gain the necessary knowledge before class then the instructors encourage them to clarify and apply what they’ve learnt on practical activities during the class.

What are the benefits?


  • It allows students to learn at their own pace. They can take as much time as they need to read an article or watch a video as many times as necessary.
  • The teacher is there while students apply new knowledge.
  • They come to class prepared with ideas and questions and are more willing to participate.
  • More time for collaborating with other students.
  • Student-centered class.

The Flipped Learning Network defined Flipped Learning as “a pedagogical approach in which direct instruction moves from the group learning space to the individual learning space, and the resulting group space is transformed into a dynamic, interactive learning environment where the educator guides students as they apply concepts and engage creatively in the subject matter”.

How to apply the flipped classroom into TEFL?


If you stop to think about it for a couple of minutes, flipping an EFL classroom makes a lot of sense, since it allows you to actually focus on helping students practice and improve their communication skills. Why introduce new vocabulary from scratch when they could come familiarized with it already and just focus on its correct use and pronunciation?

Let’s imagine a class on football. You want to introduce the verbs “run”, “kick”, “score”, “pass” etc.  In a traditional class, the teacher would stand up and elicit the meaning and use of the vocabulary. This is a fantastic way of approaching students, especially if they don’t have time to do any work at home, but what if you could…

Simply give them a list of the words, ask the students to research the definitions at home and find two examples of each word in context.  They bring these to class to use in the various activities.

Or ask the students to watch a football match (live or video) at home and write a list of all the action verbs they find and translate them into English. Get them to write down 3 questions using some of those verbs. In class you can encourage them to ask each other the questions they wrote while you pick on pronunciation and on the correct use of the verbs. This type of activity will definitely increase student talking time!

“Devoting class time to application of concepts might give instructors a better opportunity to detect errors in thinking, particularly those that are widespread in a class. At the same time, collaborative projects can encourage social interaction among students, making it easier for them to learn from one another and for those of varying skill levels to support their peers”. Educause Learning Initiative.

If you want to learn about some great virtual tools that will help you flip your classroom, don’t miss out on our next blog post!