The demands of a highly connected society, in which communication and information exchanges are promoted in different languages, are accelerating the need of training citizens capable of understanding different languages. Schools are aware of this need and therefore the number of primary education centers worldwide, including bilingual and multilingual education programs, is going up. Current growing global migration means schools need to cater to higher cultural diversity in the classroom too.
Both students and teachers face many obstacles, and more research must be done on efficient methodologies to enhance multilingual learning.
Language immersion is one of the strategies most frequently used in schools. There are two types of language immersion: Total immersion, in which all subjects are taught in the foreign language; and partial immersion, in which just some of the subjects are taught in the other language.
Flipped learning is particularly useful when teaching subjects like Science in a foreign language.
The flipped learning methodology presents a series of clear advantages for teachers and students in a bilingual classroom and can help to overcome the obstacles arising when learning a particular subject in a second language.
1. Students learn the vocabulary before going to class
Second language teachers’ main concern is the difficulty students have understanding the topics when they don’t have command of the language. Thanks to flipped learning techniques, students will learn the vocabulary that goes along with the assigned materials before going to class, which facilitates their understanding and communication during the lesson. Multimedia resources allow students to listen to correct pronunciation and relate new words to particular contexts and topics.
2. Repetition facilitates learning grammar constructions
Another main concern of teachers in bilingual classrooms is the correct usage of the second language, which sometimes forces teachers to deviate from the subject being taught and take on the role of a foreign language teacher. In primary education, attention will be given to the usage of simple constructions that allow students speak about a certain topic. In this case, the flipped learning methodology facilitates the students’ learning through digital resources that offer repeated grammar constructions in different formats and are based on the principles of acquisition of their native tongue. If students listen, read and observe the use of these constructions in multimedia resources, they will find it easier to communicate later on in the classroom. Moreover, when teaching older students, teachers can include resources containing explanations of the grammar.
3. More time available to communicate and practice the second language
One of flipped learning’s main advantages is saving more time for practicing, researching, discussing and learning by doing, since theory is externalized, although not completely excluded.
4. Content segmentation becomes easier
Teachers using flipped learning can segment content into smaller parts and assign different portions of content to each student, depending on their capabilities and needs.
5. It boosts interdisciplinary collaboration among teachers
Bilingual education necessitates a close collaboration among teachers of different subjects, especially if they use flipped learning methodologies. Foreign language teachers can contribute to subjects taught in a second language by providing digital materials and linking topics to the lesson plan.
6. More time available for attention to diversity
Being able to listen, read or see the explanation of a concept as many times as the student needs perfectly conforms to a more customized education. Also, implementing flipped learning allows teachers to individually assist students having difficulties.
7. Students take ownership of their own learning process, leading to more responsibility and control on their end
8. It facilitates developing the capacity of learning to learn, digital competency and language competency
9. It facilitates parents’ involvement in their children’s learning
In reality, flipped learning is a revamped version of the old teaching method of assigning readings to students before discussion in class. Now, this methodology has advanced and uses videos, audios, podcasts, presentations, images, games and interactive exams. To make sure that this manner of teaching engages students, it is necessary that the teacher has command of both the subject and the second language as well as the active methodologies and digital tools.
The usage of different types of digital resources makes students interested and motivated in learning.
Before starting the flipped learning adventure, Bergmann and Sams, in their book Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day, recommend:
- Start little by little, by introducing just some topics through flipped learning.
- Search the archive of digital materials to find those that best match students’ needs and facilitate their work.
- Bear in mind that it is necessary to motivate students to participate in this methodology, and it is not surprising if their first reaction is negative.
- Train students to use digital resources, and continue using them during the course, by developing their capacity of learning to learn.
- Train parents too.
- When some students don’t comply with their tasks, don’t scold them; it’s better to leave them alone while the rest continues with the scheduled activities.
- Don’t use just videos as an engaging and stimulating tool, since as time passes, they will become tired of watching them over and over.
- Try to use short and interactive videos and other resources such as games, readings or online tests.
- At the end, share the experience with other colleagues who are using the same methodology.
Are you familiar with the bilingual content of Elesapiens? It’s excellent for flipped learning in Science. Students can review the lessons through videos, educational infographics and games, and apply what they have learned through these digital resources in offline classroom activities: experiments, debates, group activities, etc. As all content is available in both English and Spanish, students can review the lessons in their native language or browse terms and concepts in the Glossaries and Key Concepts documents.