Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Creating an Online Learning Community in a Flipped Classroom to Enhance EFL Learners' Oral Proficiency

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

Creating an Online Learning Community in a Flipped Classroom to Enhance EFL Learners' Oral Proficiency

Article excerpt

Introduction

The development of communicative competence is an overarching learning objective, and exposure to communicative practice is generally recognized as an essential element of successful foreign language learning and teaching (Council of Europe, 2001). Oral proficiency in a foreign language is the prerequisite for communication of ideas and intelligent conversation. The ability to speak a language is synonymous with knowing the language, since speech is the most basic means of human communication (Folse, 2006). However, inadequate communication and interaction between teachers and students, excessive teacher-led lectures, and relatively fatiguing test-based teaching methods still suppress the development of student communicative competence. Even with years of English learning, English as a foreign language (EFL) speakers still have difficulty mastering English oral skills and are hesitant when speaking English out loud.

Technology, with distinctive features such as mobility, reachability, personalization, spontaneity, and ubiquity, is widely used to facilitate language teaching and learning. In particular, given the benefits and possible learning affordances that mobile-assisted language learning (MALL) offers, incorporating mobile devices appropriately can "have the potential to revolutionize the way we work and learn" (Peters, 2007, p. 1). In recent years, as young users in Asia have been communicating with each other via mobile messaging applications (such LINE, WhatsApp, and WeChat), research into the role of such instant and text messaging technologies in education has revealed their positive effects on providing platforms for socializing, sharing information, and communicating (Sweeny, 2010).

Flipped learning is an alternative approach that integrates technology into language learning, and that contributes to ample opportunities for students to learn (Chen Hsieh, Wu, & Marek, 2016; Hung, 2015; McLaughlin et al., 2014; Overmyer, 2012). In a conventional class, new knowledge is introduced in the classroom, usually via lecture, and students practice using the knowledge at home, via homework. Flipped learning reverses this paradigm, with information introduced to students before class using technology (such as mobile devices). This allows more advanced learning activities during in-class time, meaning students are given more opportunities to participate in meaningful engaging activities, thus enhancing the learning outcomes (Boucher, Robertson, Wainner & Sanders, 2013).

Studies have shown that flipped learning significantly enhances student learning performance (Chen, Hsieh, Wu, & Marek, 2016; Deslauriers & Wieman, 2011; Hung, 2015; McLaughlin et al., 2014; Sahin, Cavlazoglu, & Zeytuncu, 2015), student engagement (Chen, Hsieh, Wu, & Marek, 2016; Jamaludin & Osman, 2014), and produces enhanced learning outcomes (Chen, Hsieh, Wu, & Marek, 2016; Baepler, Walker & Driessen, 2014; Moravec, Williams, Aguilar-Roca, & O'Dowd, 2010). Bishop and Verleger (2013) contended that a flipped classroom is an educational technique that consists of two important components: (1) the use of computer technologies such as video lectures, and (2) the involvement of interactive learning activities. In fact, flipped learning effectively cultivates student autonomy and arouses student awareness (Yang, 2013), by allowing students to "proceed at their own pace, guide themselves to additional content, and assess their own learning gains" (McLaughlin et al., 2013, p. 196). Furthermore, flipped instruction provides autonomous supportive learning contexts that not only adopt students' different perspective and thoughts but support students' autonomous self-regulation (Reeve, 2009). Simply put, the core of flipped learning is to provide a learning community where students develop knowledge through constructive learning experiences, peer interaction and, collaboration. …

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