TESOL Advanced Practitioner Certificate Experience Sharing by Saadet Şahin
The unexpected hit of the pandemic has been affecting all of us deeply. As educators, we have been experiencing a lot of differences in our work as well. Lifelong learning opportunities are helping us to adjust ourselves to a new era while we are also suffering from the stress of a global crisis. TESOL Advanced Practitioner certificate course is one of those that I have had a chance to participate and I would like to share my experience during which I have had chances to refresh my previous learnings in ELT and look closely at flipped learning in ELT.
TESOL Certificate: Advanced Practitioner
US Embassy Turkey has provided various scholarships for the ELT instructors teaching at Turkish Universities at the beginning of the 2020-2021 Academic year. Luckily, I was one of those instructors and since October 2020 I have been following the course. In the first five weeks, we had worked on the theoretical background of ELT, read various articles, had discussions about methodology, testing, recent developments with instructors from different universities. Then, we had ten hours’ self-studies about specialization areas which were flipped learning for me. After, we prepared a syllabus and a lesson plan in our specialization area. Finally, we applied the lesson plans and were observed by an experienced ELT instructor. Here, I would like to express my gratitude to Mine Onan for her contribution and support for the process. She has always been one of my mentors when I have difficulty deciding what to do when things do not work and again she was there with her full support. Also, I would like to thank Ozge Fidan for the materials that she provided me to learn more about flipped learning and her feedback on the lesson plan.
Flipped learning has been one of the popular methods in various educational contexts recently. Like many of you, I have gained awareness that there is a popular method called flipped learning and it could be accepted as one of the ‘trendy’ methods which are suitable to modern tech-supported educational environments. However, I did not have a chance to learn more about the method before. Therefore, I decided to use this specialization area task as an opportunity to learn more about the method and how it could be used in the ELT context and our program.
Flipped learning is defined as changing traditional instruction which is ‘teaching in the class practicing outside the class’ into ‘learning outside class and practicing in the class’ (Flipped Learning Network, 2014, p. 1). In other words, flipped learning is blended learning in which the students are provided clear instructions to get the input in their phase outside the class and use the information to make practice in the class where the instructor could also evaluate the students’ learning (Bergman & Sams, 2012; Keengwe, Onchwari, & Oigara, 2014; Santiago, 2017)
The flow of a flipped classes can be defined as; student studies the assigned task which involves lower-order skills such as understanding and remembering. Then they come back to class to apply the information that they have learned with the guidance of the teacher. Guidance, students’ active participation and linking the tasks to each other, and preparing follow-up classes are the most important features of flipped. It is also possible to say that in flipped learning the new version of Bloom’s Taxonomy could be applied (Stannard, 2019)
The potential advantages of flipped learning are Personalization (helping learning difficulties, self-pacing, individual support), Active learning (high order skills, interaction between students, useful feedback), Engagement, and attitudes (classroom engagement, learner ownership). The role of the teacher is also changing in flipped learning (Kerr, 2020).
According to Flipped Learning network a flexible environment, intentional content, learning culture, the professional educator is the four pillars of this method. Therefore, the teachers’ roles such as motivator, supporter, manager, and activator become more important. However, although the teacher is less visible, his/her role behind the stage becomes more important than teacher-centered classes (Flipped Learning Network, 2014, p. 1).
While I was studying Flipped Learning, I saw that flipped learning is applied mostly in grammar in ELT Context, and providing a video to deliver the input is the most common activity. Therefore, for the lesson plan, I decided to try something different and applied this method to a listening class.
General overview of the lesson
In this section, I want to provide brief details about the lesson and activities that I used. I was teaching B2 level and prepared a class for Contemporary Topics 3, Unit 8 Surveillance Society. I prepared a PPT that has the instructions to complete the assignments and get ready for the class. I asked students to complete the assignments in 90 minutes of the classes.
In the next part, we had a Q&A session with the students I also used this time to get the overall summary of the lecture that they listened to as note-taking activity. This was a chance for them to see how efficiently the students worked on the tasks.
In the final part, I used a real-life situation that I personalized for the students and made them work on a discussion in two groups. The discussion question was about setting a surveillance system at the university. I asked them that the school management wants to get the opinions of the students about setting surveillance system on the campus and want to discuss with two groups of students who support and oppose the setting system. I put the students into groups they worked on preparing a short presentation about why they support or oppose. In the end, they presented their ideas and I provided feedback to them about the content and their presentation skills.
Reflection on the lesson and post-observation discussion
One of the most challenging issues in flipped learning as the activities are connected and students have to follow each and every part of the lesson. If some students do not complete the first part, it is difficult to engage them in the final part. I had this problem as well. One of the students joined the online session without completing the assigned task. I had to ask him first to work on the assignments in a separate breakout room while the others were working on the final part. That was an immediate solution but the students had to miss the final part. We were discussing with the observer, as an immediate solution it worked but there should more concrete backup plans for such situations.
Although I took into consideration the students’ competencies while grouping them, opposing such a plan while there are a lot of security problems and defending not to have such a system on the campus was not an easy task for that group and it was another problem that I faced during this lesson. In this situation, I would be more supportive of that group to generate ideas. This was also suggested by the observer for the future classes.
We know that there is no perfect lesson plan and there is always room to improve the lesson plans. I still have hesitations if it is a full flipped learning method. However, I think that it provided students a chance to work on note-taking tasks according to their phase and have interaction with classmates. Also, both Mine and Özge mention that it was a smooth lesson plan combining self-studies and whole-class interaction.
As we all aware that technology has been controlling many areas in teaching and language teaching. Unfortunately, the hit of the pandemic has also brought distance learning to a different position. We all assume things will be different in the following years in terms of blending education. I am happy to have the chance to get this scholarship and spend some time on a specific topic that I could be referring to in the following days to adapt my teaching into the new era. I also wanted to share this experience with you and if you are interested in we can have some time to work on it in the future for different tasks, or activities. I know we all very tired and need some time to refresh, but please just keep this in mind for the next year. I wish all of us a happy summer school and holiday. Hope to meet you all in person again.
Bergmann, J., & Sams, A. (2012). Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day. Alexandria, VA: International Society for Technology in Education. Thousands Oak, ca: Sage
Flipped Learning Network. (2014). The four pillars of F-L-I-P. Retrieved from http://flippedlearning.org/cms/lib07/ VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/46/FLIP_handout_FNL_Web.p
Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Oigara, J. (Eds). (2014). Promoting active learning through the flipped learning model. Hershey, pa: igi Global.
Kerr Philp (2020), Flipped learning, https://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2020/07/01/how-to-get-your-flipped-classroom-started/
Santiago, R. (Facilitator). (2017, July). Certificación flipped learning en Español nivel 1. Flipped Learning Global Initiative. Retrieved from https://learn.flglobal.org/courses/
Stannard R. (2019) Flipping Your Language Classes – what can it do for your learners?
Coutts N, (2015)Making the most of Bloom’s Taxonomy, https://thelearnersway.net/ideas/2015/9/13/making-the-most-of-blooms-taxonomy Retrieved 20.05.2021