How do you flip a TPRS classroom?


Recently there has been a recurring question on the moretprs list serve. How do you flip a TPRS classroom?

Most often the question comes up because administrations are telling teachers to flip their classrooms. The answer is, you can’t flip a TPRS classroom because they were flipped before anyone else even thought about it.

The concept of a flipped classroom grew out of the progress made by Kahn Academy and others in putting explanations and visual demonstrations online. In traditional classrooms the teacher would deliver a lecture about an abstract theory and its applications while students took notes. Then the teacher would assign homework and the students would go home and try to solve the problems they were given by applying the concept the teacher had lectured on. This worked, more or less, in most subject matters, whether it was math, science, history, literature or traditional language classes. In language classes the teacher would explain a grammar rule and then give students exercises in applying it from a workbook to do at home.

When some teachers realized that Kahn Academy’s visual tutorials were better than any lecture they could give, it occurred to them that they could use their time with students better by assigning the online lecture as homework. After having watched the demonstration at home, as often as necessary, the students came to class where the teacher gave them problems or exercises to work on, practical applications of the general theory of the tutorial. Then the teacher could go around the room, helping individual students with specific problems and seeing where more explanations were needed. Classes became more interactive. Because the students had their “lecture” at home and did the “homework exercises” in class, it was called a flipped classroom. And many teachers, particularly in the sciences, have found it extremely effective.

But TPRS classes have always been flipped. They have never been about explaining a grammar rule and giving the students exercises in which they were expected to apply the rule as homework. In TPRS classes the personal interaction with the teacher, using target structures, has always been in the classroom. The students practice their understanding in class, showing the teacher where they are in their acquisition and where they need to go. What kind of homework do TPRS teachers give? They ask students to read. In their homes, students can read passages over and over, until they are fully comprehended. When they come to class, they use the structures which they read the night before.

So if your administration is asking you to flip your classroom, all you need to reply is, “Done!”

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