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TitleTime Shifting with In-Class Flips

Jeff Magoto is the director of the Yamada Language Center at the University of Oregon. His interests include educational technology, software deisgn, less commonly taught languages, and program administration.

Time shifting is, and always has been, part of the modern language classroom. Every time we ask our students to listen to or watch a pre-recorded dialogue we’re displacing time and space. We move into an omni-present, where we’re all participants (if somewhat removed) of a Cairo market scene that becomes the focus of our attention, and eventually, tutor. Soon after hearing “Salaam u alikum” we are mouthing the words to the rejoinder “U alikum salaam." Or, we are, if we’re given enough time and opportunity to do so.

In response to InterCom’s focus on time this month, I’d like to explore with you an increasingly popular way to accomplish that time (and space) shifting in your classroom. It’s called the “in-class flip,” (Gonzalez, 2014) and as you might expect, it comes from the pedagogical environment commonly known as Flipped Learning, which encourages teachers to re-locate the “easy stuff” of a lesson, the language tasks that students should be able to do on their own (such as watching a video like the one above and identifying 1-2 greetings and leave-takings) so that class time can be reserved for for putting that knowledge about the language into use, or applied to new situations, or as the basis for creating something entirely new (Bauer-Ramzani et al., 2016).

Flipped learning has garnered a lot of attention in the last 4-5 years, particularly in fields different from ours, like math and science, where moveable chairs, focused pair and group work, and student performance indicators aren’t standard features of classrooms. But even among language colleagues who insist that they’ve always flipped their instruction, there’s increased recognition that traditional flipping doesn’t work in many situations and it may not result in the kind of differentiated instruction it claims to.

“In-class flips” have come about because they offer a healthy compromise. In exchange for giving up some class time for direct instruction, whether that’s teacher fronted or mediated by technology, more differentiation is achieved. Student practice time, feedback time, and creation time grow and deepen. While classroom configurations differ for in-class flips, they all entail a “stations approach” which can be designed quite linearly (present, practice, practice some more, produce) or in parallel where student choice and the goal of the task determine the approach to learning. ESL Colleagues in Colombia report good success with in-class flips, in situations as diverse as English and French immersion in primary school to university EFL students with only 2-3 hours of class a week (Ramirez, 2017).

My own experience with in-class flips in teacher preparation courses has shown that while my class preparation time tends to go up, class time is more enjoyable and student awareness of outcomes is more apparent. In a recent class, I told students we had had 50 minutes to get ready for a video conference with an expert in the field on in-class flips. Towards that end, I’d established 6 stations that I called: base, interview, map, lesson maker, materials maker, and reflection (see “In-Class Flipping” Handout). A fluke of afternoon scheduling in the summer even made it possible for us to spread out into 3 rooms (highly desirable). Students chose the station they wanted (“base” was required if they hadn’t watched the foundational video) and most managed to work through two stations in about 40 minutes. 

What ensued in the second hour was a lively conversation with Professor Ramirez about her work, with active participation by nearly everyone in a class of 22. What ensued in the rest of the course was the production of some excellent language lesson plans which incorporated in-class flips, appropriate technology, higher order thinking skills, and lots of time shifting.


Bauer-Ramazani, C., Graney, J. M., Marshall, H. W. and Sabieh, C. (2016), Flipped Learning in TESOL: Definitions, Approaches, and Implementation. TESOL J, 7: 429–437. doi:10.1002/tesj.250

Gonzalez, J. (2014, March 24). Modifying the Flipped Classroom: The "In-Class" Version. Retrieved July 25, 2017, from

Ramirez, M. (2017, May 30). Retrieved July 05, 2017, from What’s an In-Class Flip?

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