Blended learning models for teaching English: how to use

Blended learning models in ELT

Blended learning models in ELT

03.09.2022

138
2
minutes
  • Teaching qualifications
  • Tips & Strategies
  • Methodology

Two years ago, we could not even imagine that we would have to learn using Internet technologies in education so fast. Although a lot of colleagues resisted or postponed this issue, almost every teacher has already tried teaching students both online and offline, and digital technologies are gaining more and more space in learning.

Blended learning is becoming commonplace, so today we will talk about the models of blended learning and how to use them in English classes.

Pros of blended learning

Blended learning has other names, such as ‘hybrid learning’, ‘flipping the classroom’, ‘blended education’, but they all suggest one thing: they all provide a teaching method that combines pre-planned traditional learning in the classroom and online education. Classroom learning includes whole-class teacher instruction, individual, and group learning.

Online teaching can be done one-on-one or with the group of students, and it involves students using online apps and resources. Blended learning aims not to replace the teacher, but, on the contrary, to deepen and expand the learning process. 

The key idea of ​​blended learning is that students have some control over their time, pace, trajectory and place.

Students are allowed to control their learning, and this increases their motivation as well as allows them to find the time needed to study the material.

For students studying online, blended or hybrid learning is a type of learning environment that combines ‘synchronous’ and ‘asynchronous’ learning.

  • Synchronous learning means that students and faculty meet simultaneously online through a virtual learning platform, such as Zoom or Teams, etc. Such learning is often called “real-time” learning. 

Students may not have to complete any assignments outside of scheduled meetings. For example, if they take a course in which they use video communication with a teacher, then they are in a synchronous learning environment.

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  • Asynchronous learning does not involve meetings with the teacher at a certain time; students work mainly offline and complete tasks within the time limit set by the teacher. 

The work performed is submitted electronically. For example, if you took the Delta Module 1 course, then asynchronous learning takes place here. In this online course, you do not meet with your tutor at a certain time, but work independently on tasks at your own pace.

Tutors provide feedback, but not face-to-face, and not in real time. There are a number of advantages to using a blended approach. The biggest of them is that it allows you to combine all the positive aspects of both synchronous and asynchronous learning, and also allows you to avoid most of the disadvantages. Hybrid teaching also helps optimize the time you spend with students in classrooms.

Consider the benefits of a blended format for English classes:

Students practice all four language skills.

It is usually better to practice speaking and listening during a synchronous lesson or in class, and to give reading and writing as asynchronous tasks.

Students have a better understanding of complex concepts.

By using asynchronous learning elements, where students spend some time working on new concepts outside of the scheduled lesson time, you free up more time for synchronous practice of these concepts. And this is also a time saver, because both you and the students start from immediately discussing the problem, not from teaching from scratch.

This approach engages more students.

After all, it is possible to give tasks that are suitable for different types of learners, depending on the ways they better absorb and retain information.

Students get the opportunity to take responsibility for their own learning.

Becoming self-motivated and autonomous is a good habit for any learner. By giving them asynchronous tasks to perform outside of a regular activity, you allow the students to take control of a certain part of their learning.

This approach promotes student interaction and community building.

When students study online, sometimes there may be a lack of interaction between them. Or vice versa: in the case of classroom learning, some students may have no interaction with other students at all!

A good way to develop some interaction between them is to have fun asynchronous activities that encourage collaboration, such as discussion boards / forums. Your students may never meet, but that doesn’t mean they won’t feel part of the community.

The teacher has the opportunity to interact with students at their level and with the tools they use.

You will be amazed at how well, for example, young learners understand technology.

The teacher receives instant feedback.

You can immediately see what works in your classroom, and what doesn’t, and improve your work.

Blended learning models

As blended learning is gaining more popularity, its different models are evolving. It depends on the needs of your students which model is right for your class. Some models may require more attention, while others are ahead of the syllabus. Here are the basic models of blended learning and some ideas on how to implement them.

Rotation model

The rotation model is a blended learning strategy that is relatively easy to implement. All students can work at their own levels, and learning can be easily differentiated. The teacher creates different stations. Students move from station to station and complete tasks online or in a physical class. Students must complete the tasks at all stations. For example:

  • Station 1. Group work. Here students can do team building activities. For example, divide them into groups. Distribute cards with written sentences to each group. One student reads the text on the card, others have to respond to it with a gesture or action. Depending on the level of students, task cards can be simpler or more complex.
  • Station 2. Online learning. For example, students watch videos or listen to dialogue and complete assignments online. They can work both in pairs and individually.
  • Station 3. Work in a group with a teacher. Here each group has the same needs and level. Teacher works with students doing tasks that meet their needs.

Flex model

The Flex model provides most of the content online, but in a traditional school setting. Teacher acts as a facilitator and provides assistance individually or to a small group of students when needed.

This model provides great opportunities for individualization in terms of pace and content.

It is advisable to use such a model in exam prep, for example, when you work on ZNO or IELTS.

Face-to-face Driver model

The Face-to-face Driver model is a good option for classes where students have different levels of skills and abilities. This model is closest to traditional learning, as most lessons are conducted face to face. Online learning is provided for students who are lagging behind in order to supplement regular lessons.

For example, you can give assignments to students who have difficulty with grammar or vocabulary acquisition, and they can work on practical assignments at home. In this way, these students receive the necessary practice and additional time needed to master the material.

Online Driver model

The Online Driver model relies solely on online learning. Students work remotely and receive instructions and assignments via an online platform. The teacher acts as a facilitator and gives students the opportunity to sign up and join the online messenger if they need further assistance.

This model works well for students with chronic illnesses, students who need flexibility to fulfill other responsibilities, or students who want to progress much faster than would be possible in a traditional school setting.

Learning and practicing the Future Perfect Tense

In our following publications, we will discuss activities that are best suited for using blended learning with children and adults in more detail.

Have you already tried this approach? Which model do you think works best?

Article authors & editors
  • Yulia Chorna

    Yulia Chorna

    Author

    DELTA Module 1, CELTA certified teacher of General & Business English

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