Strategies to Transform the Foreign Language Classroom and Increase Learning Outcomes with the Flipped Model

Strategies to Transform the Foreign Language Classroom and Increase Learning Outcomes with the Flipped Model

Esperanza Granados-Bezi
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-7464-6.ch004
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The scaffolds of American colleges and universities can no longer protect our institutions from the winds of change that penetrate their walls and appear to be threatening their foundations. They also seem incapable of protecting faculties from persistent criticism due to unsatisfactory performance and reluctance to modify educational approaches to meet society's current demands. This chapter reviews some of the most common concerns pertaining not only to the quality of higher education in general but also to that of foreign language teaching in particular. It analyzes the reasons that there is a general sense of dissatisfaction with the results of traditional practices to language learning and discusses the benefits of implementing the flipped model to enhance the quality of instruction. In addition, it underlines the importance of adopting innovative technologies to increase language development in a world in which instructors are expected to be more productive and students have to reach higher learning outcomes.
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The flipped model has been recognized as one of the new instructional trends that higher education should not overlook in the process of facing its current challenges (Savenije, 2013). The dynamics of the educational environment are now being affected by new demands for accountability as well as the need to align market demands with college learning outcomes. Therefore, it can be said that the future of education remains in the hands of those instructors interested in improving their teaching results by using technology more effectively and by creating new venues for independent learning. One of the main premises of the flipped classroom is that teachers use computers and other electronic devices to make their courses more suitable and appealing to millennial students. The inverted classroom, which combines face-to-face instruction with interactive technology, aims to enhance students’ learning experience, making it possible for teaching to evolve from a presentational into a hands-on approach (Berret 2012; Finkel, 2012; Muldrow, 2013; Saltman 2011). This chapter analyzes some traditional practices in the foreign language classroom that have discouraged students from learning foreign languages. It also argues how flipping the classroom and implementing a competency-based instruction can offer significant benefits to foreign language teachers and learners in addressing the previous difficulties. My goal is to identify what works and what does not work in foreign language education based on my observations, experience, and research.

I share the belief that higher education must undergo a profound transformation to overcome a general dissatisfaction with the results of our teaching efforts. Various experts on this topic have expressed the need and urgency for such a change. In his book Higher Education in a Digital Age, William G. Bowen, a former president of Princeton University, acknowledges that there is a serious problem in the American public’s perception of the performance of our colleges and universities, including prestigious ones. He states that no institution of higher education is exempt from the visible signs of such discontent (Bowen, 2013, p. 26). Richard Arum and Josipa Roska call for innovative strategies for education in their book Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses:

Changing higher education to focus on learning will require transforming students’ curricular experiences—not only the time they spend sitting in their chairs during a given class period, but everything associated with coursework, from faculty expectations and approaches to teaching to course requirements and feedback. (2011, p. 131)

In other words, the new focus of education must change from faculty teaching to student learning. Therefore, faculty need to be actively engaged in a collaborative endeavor to evaluate, update, and improve programs. This chapter seeks to encourage foreign language instructors to adopt the flipped model with the purpose of increasing the effectiveness of their work.

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