One-on-one language tutoring is unique, and it provides the kind of intimacy and accountability that can benefit a lot of students. As an English tutor with experience tutoring both native English speakers and English language learners, I can personally attest to the effectiveness of one-on-one tutoring.
However, as a certified TEFL instructor, I can't help but wonder how I can improve my tutoring sessions both online and as an English Instructor at the college level. The solution that I've found (and am downright excited about it!) is the Flipped Classroom. I had the pleasure of mentoring under a teacher who not only swore by this pedagogical (teaching) method, but also allowed me to witness the use of it in person.
What is a Flipped Class? In a traditional lecture, students are introduced to a topic in class and are expected to digest that information on their own later through homework. In a flipped class, however, your homework becomes your classwork, and your class lecture is either available online as a YouTube video or through short videos created by your teacher. These videos are then shared through platforms like Blackboard and Google Docs or embedded in an email.
How does a flipped class work?
At the beginning of a course, students will receive a syllabus with all the projected lessons for the duration of the semester. At the start of each week, they will receive either an email with a video lecture attached to it or they will be directed to a YouTube page (or another education media content site). They are then required to respond to the instructor.
The video lesson is designed to help students understand how to complete the comprehension questions included in the accompanying email. These comprehension questions are the ticket into the next class, or part of the warm-up during the following tutoring session.
So, what will we do during class or in our tutoring session?
During class or your tutoring session, you will complete exercises and projects based on either the material that was covered in the video lecture or on material covered in the previous weeks. Sometimes the instructor will simply have students discuss topics in order to understand how a particular issue relates to their language acquisition.
Does this method work?
Well, it should! However, it is illogical to expect everyone to grasp complicated concepts in one sitting.
That's the beauty of the flipped classroom. You aren't required to take in all the information at once. Instead, you will be provided with a lecture or video that you can return to again and again until you've mastered the material at your own pace.
What if I still don't understand a topic?
There has to be additional or auxiliary material to either aid a student's understanding or enrich what they've mastered already. And, if by some chance a student has still not quite grasped the ideas in a video lecture or in the auxiliary material, then they should take notes on what it is they don't understand and bring them to their next class or tutoring session. Then, the student and instructor can work together to solve the problem.
I believe that utilizing this method of teaching can be beneficial to both instructors and students. Although the initial phase of preparing lecture videos or sourcing quality educational material is a little time consuming, the eventual payoff is a library of lessons on demand that can be customized for any student's course of study.
Furthermore, I believe that this method places power, as well as accountability, in the hands of the student. Normally, students lose access to their tutor (and their knowledge of English) as soon as their tutoring session is done, unless they have purchased Skype recording software and recorded their session. However, with specially created or sourced material, students can re-watch a video as many times as they need.
Remember, this method can benefit many students, though it may not work for some. This is to be expected. There are many different learning styles, as well as personal preferences, especially in the world of education. As for me and my future students, I want to encourage them to avoid relying on one single source for all their learning needs. Instead, I want them to continually seek as many resources as they can in order to become comfortable in their new language. Therefore, if I can help provide them with some of those sources, I will!