Flipping the classroom? Student-centered learning?

Is flipping the classroom or student-centered learning a good idea or even possible in a community college foreign language class, especially an elementary class? I’m pretty sure flipping means that the students learn on their own before class and apply what they’ve learned during class time by forming dyads or small groups and creating something or solving something. Am I right? In a flipped classroom the instructor doesn’t instruct but rather serves as a consultant, if I’m not mistaken. What is your idea of a flipped foreign language classroom? Is flipping a fad? Have you flipped? It’s said to work well for many subjects in K-12 classrooms. I think they are currently trying versions of it at universities (UCLA is currently using Pearson’s Unidades, 2nd edition). But, given the heterogeneity of community college classes, is flipping a help or a hindrance in “getting the job done?” And what exactly is student-centered learning? Does it necessarily involve flipping? Does it work in an elementary FL classroom? And what happens when students are assigned group work in class? First of all, it is hard to create dyads for many reasons: Student A doesn’t want or like to work with Student B. Student A is much brighter than Student B and both wind up being frustrated. Student A is bright but has Aspergers and can only work alone, etc. Also, when students form groups of three or four or more, Student A often winds up doing all or most of the work and twenty minutes or so of class time is wasted for Students B, C, and D for any number of reasons. It’s not that I’m a pessimist; I almost always see these problems arise whenever I assign group work. But back to flipping. To begin with, I’m not sure most community college students would want or be able to prepare beforehand for a language class, work unassisted during class time and then do homework after class. They would complain: “This is not the only course I’m taking.” “ I have a life, you know.” “Why don’t you teach us instead of just sitting on your…chair? Preparing for class at home by reading or watching a video can be hard for an elementary foreign language student. In history or psych I can see it working. But this involves a foreign language. Let’s say I’m an English-speaker and I have to learn brand new material online to use unassisted with other neophytes in my Chinese 1 class the next day. Think about it.

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