Five ways that flipped learning helps you study English

01 May 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the face of language learning. While online language learning pre-Covid was on the rise, during the pandemic many classes have had to move online, and the numbers of people using language learning apps has grown exponentially (State of Education Apps 2020 Report). Although face-to-face learning is still the most popular way to learn a language, many language learning schools and teachers are now blending this with online learning. But while language learning apps and platforms offering online classes tend to make big promises, how can you really be sure you are signing up for a course that works?

Whether you’re looking for a course that has 100% online classes, or one that combines online learning with face-to-face teaching, you’ll want to know that your time and money is being well spent. In this post we’ll introduce you to the concept of ‘flipped learning’, and tell you five things to look out for when choosing a course that you’ll learn from, guaranteed.

What is flipped learning?

While language learning apps can be useful for some aspects of language learning, to really make progress you need to combine them with classes with a teacher. But how can you make sure you’re making the best use of your time, both on the app and in class?

The concept of ‘flipped learning’ has been around for several decades, but with the recent focus on online learning more and more language learning providers are taking an interest. Flipped learning turns traditional learning on its head. Rather than learning new language in class with a teacher and practicing it after class for homework, learners complete self-study online activities before class, and then come to class to practice what they’ve learned with a teacher.

Studies have shown that this method can very effective*, as students can go at their own pace and feel more in control of what they are learning.

However, for flipped learning to be really successful, it needs to include the following five elements:

Joined-up Learning

In any flipped learning program, the online self-study activities are really important for your learning. So, it’s important that you choose a course that has wide variety of online activities. These activities should provide you with lots of authentic language ‘input’, so entertaining videos and lots of different activity types are a must.

But while completing activities online can help you to become familiar with what the new language you’re learning means and how it is used, it really comes alive when you start to use it in class. Flipped learning really works well when everything you learn joins up, so make sure that what you’ll be practicing in class is what you’ve learned by yourself online.

Effective Digital Feedback

The online self-study activities need to be varied and engaging, and should give you lots of examples of how people use words and phrases. But the activities also need to give you feedback on how well you are learning the new language. This will keep you motivated and give you confidence that you’re ready to join the teacher-led class. Look out for courses that not only check how you’re doing online using quizzes, but that also use other technologies to give you feedback. For example, automatic speech recognition is now used by some providers not only to give you feedback on your pronunciation, but also to give you feedback on how well you can use the language in online conversation activities. Online activities that get you speaking can give you confidence to practice using new language without feeling ‘judged’ by anyone else listening in while you’re trying things out.

Flexibility and Convenience

One of the huge benefits of flipped learning over traditional classroom learning (whether face-to-face or in an online classroom) is that it is flexible and adaptable to your personal needs. The online self-study activities can usually be done on any device (mobile, tablet, desktop, etc.) and at any time that is convenient for you. Look out for courses too where you can choose your class times so not only can they fit around your busy life, but also you can make sure you have enough time to be prepared for the class (see next point!)

Constant Progress Checks

A course that gives you constant feedback while you’re completing the self-study online activities will give you confidence that you’re learning the new language. But for flipped learning to be really effective, the progress checks need to go deeper than this. To start with, make sure that you will be given an accurate placement test. Effective flipped learning relies on starting at the correct level, so that the self-study activities aren’t too easy (or you’re not learning) nor too difficult (or you can’t do them on your own).

And because in class the focus is on practicing what you’ve learned (rather than the teacher ‘teaching’ you new things) it’s very important that everyone attending the class has come prepared. Otherwise, valuable class time is spent getting ‘unprepared’ students up to speed. A course that consistently monitors that you are making progress (not only through online feedback, but also through teacher assessment) will ensure that you get the most out of your learning.

A Supportive Learning Environment

Finally, make sure that you’ll be supported all the way through your learning journey. You need to know that if you need help with any of the language you’re learning, you’ll get help. The best online activities will learn from your mistakes and show you activities to help you when you need it, and that’s important. But you also need to know that there will teaching staff on hand to practice the language you’re learning with you, and to motivate you through your learning journey.

With so many options to choose from, language learners need the confidence to know that they are going to choose a course that works. 

On 20th June 2021 Simon Buckland will be representing Wall Street English to explain at the 54th IATEFL conference how to make sure flipped learning is successful. 

Find out more about the Wall Street English flipped learning method: Our Method.

* See, for example: Birgili B., Seggie F., Oğuz E. (2021) ‘The trends and outcomes of flipped learning research between 2012 and 2018’. J. Comput. Educ. DOI: and Bauer-Ramazani, C., Graney, J., Marshall, H. and Sabieh, C. (2016) ’Flipped Learning in TESOL: Definitions, Approaches, and Implementation’. TESOL Journal 7(2) DOI: 0.1002/tesj.250.