What is a “flipped” classroom and how can it help your online teaching?

Note:  This article is for highly motivated teachers who have already moved their teaching online and want to take things to the next level.    If you’re just starting online teaching then check out the  4 Part Mini Course on how to move your teaching online  & how Genki English is helping students at this time.  Or if you are a teacher who doesn’t believe in growth & believes we can keep on teaching as we have always done even though everything else has changed, then this page isn’t for you.


OK, so you’ve successfully moved online (congratulations!) and want to thrive, not just survive, in this brave new world.

It’s now time to look at how we take this a little further, especially if this goes on 6, 12 or 24 months.

As you’ve found out, online works great.

If you have a  good system and materials in place (Genki English of course 🙂 ) then it often works even better than offline teaching with just a few simple tweaks.  (And a big dose of “dancing with the fear“)

However there are a few downsides to teaching online,  which of course we always want to reframe into “opportunities” to help students learn.

And one these is that although students tend to learn much faster online for various different reasons,  we also find class time being more constrained as it’s more difficult to hear lots of students at the same time when using a system such as Zoom.

Luckily there is a way out of this and it’s called the “Flipped Classroom”.

This was first popularized by the Kahn Academy for maths and science teaching and now it comes into its own for language learning as we all move online.

Check out the video below,  I think you’ll find it part scary (“What about my job!”) and hopefully part inspirational (“Wow, my job just got so much better!”)

I’ll leave the video to explain all the benefits of flipping your classroom.

So we just get rid of all the teachers?

Not really : )

The old fashioned, traditional grammar or textbook teacher or “only English – repeat after me” flashcard teacher will, and already have to a certain extent,  certainly disappear as parents take their custom elsewhere.

However …. just as with any skill like yoga or guitar or dancing or cooking,  your real role as a teacher is not “teaching.”

Your real role is to guide and give feedback.

Think Obi Wan Kenobi or Mr Miyagi rather than your “now replaced by youtube” fourth grade history teacher.

In a world of far too much choice, students need to know where they should start and then where to progress to.

And then they need feedback on the things that they think they’re doing right but can’t see themselves.  🙂

Think of the yoga student who tries to copy the teacher but maybe ends up with something quite different.

So by flipping your online classes you are directing the students to learn something new before class time with you.

Then you use your zoom sessions to review, check the input has been understood and then practice using the language.

It’s exactly like the regular 1,2,3 lesson plan except with the flipped classroom the input stage gets vastly reduced,  maybe to just 2 or 3 minutes, saving you so much more time for the output section.

This is the life saver for online teachers who will very soon have too much demand from students!

For languages you could do this input stage with videos.

However we find that video usually isn’t enough with languages and students need more interactivity.

With Genki English we do that with the homework program so the students get access to the software at home.

However whilst social distancing is going on and it is impossible to physically pass USBs to students, we have made a special website and made the program available for your students until the end of April.    Hopefully by the end of April we’ll have figured out a more sustainable way for your students to continue get access to this – do let me know if you have any feedback or ideas on this!

How to use in class?

You simply tell students which lessons to study for next week,  they learn those lessons and then in the next zoom lesson you go through them and play the games to simulate and perfect the speaking.

To help gamify this and so parents can see what is going on you can also use the gamified printout:

Does this mean that you have to be prepared for students to whizz through things and learn and master things much, much faster than before?  Yes 🙂

And does it mean you’ll have to find amazing things to do after Genki English?  Yes 🙂

And does that mean you’ll earn less money because the students need fewer lessons from you?  No 🙂   This is how you get *more* students because you get the reputation as being the best teacher in your country.

Now will all teachers do this?  

No they won’t.   And we’re already seeing that those teachers are really struggling to keep their existing students, never mind attract new ones.

Very often this is because the teacher hasn’t been clear enough on their “why”

But usually it’s because that in a playstation world, the kids just find “talking head” lessons to be so boring!

It is estimated that over 1 billion people will lost their livelihoods this year and sadly many teachers will be amongst those.

However it is also an opportunity for you to get ahead of things, to move with the times and learn the new skills and make the most of the opportunities online learning, story telling, knowing your “why”  and the flipped classroom will bring.

The flipped classroom shows that amazing teachers like you are always in demand.

Longer term it will only increase the success of your offline school or indeed it might mean that you fully embrace the new way of learning online and all the extra opportunities that brings!

I hope this helps, do get in touch with any questions,  do learn as much as you can about the flipped classroom, give it a try, keep on polishing up your skills and stay Genki!



Richard Graham

Hello, I'm Richard Graham. And when I was a kid I found school to be sooooo boring... So I transformed my way of teaching. I listened to what the kids were really wanting to say and taught it in ways they really wanted to learn. The results were magical. So I'm sharing it all with you now...

One Response to “What is a “flipped” classroom and how can it help your online teaching?”

  1. All the best! Julia

    Hi, Richard! Thanks for sharing! Thank you for such a chance to flip the script not only on my teaching but also on my daughter’s education! You can’t even imagine how you changed my life with your post and that video…I am following everything that you have been doing through facebook all this quarantine time and have lack of words to express all my gratitude. Your heart is full of kindness and your soul is full of wisdom. Thank you for supporting all of us in this new and brave World which will never be the same as before…

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