Learner-centred foreign language teaching and learning. Advantages, rudiments and applications. Identification of attitudes towards foreign language. Its applications.
1. LEARNER-CENTRED FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING AND LEARNING
All class activities can be done using information that learners themselves bring to the class. This methodology involves pupils active partaking, and every single activity is based on the knowledge and experience of our pupils.
The advantages of this method are:
· Exploding learners’ potential: interests, ideas, beliefs, …
· Analysis of needs: analysis is always positive for developing abilities
· Previous learning experience: teachers must know their interests and needs.
· Learners as authors: they prepare their material
· Peer teaching and correction: they learn from each other
Learners learn better when the content is relevant to their past experience and present concerns. They learn how to learn.
There are different types of learners:
· Active learners: through games, pictures, video,… They need to use the language by doing things.
· Analytical learners: they prefer studying grammar, through books, finding their own mistakes, …
· Communicative learners: they enjoy learning by observing and listening to native speakers, talking to friends, watching TV, …
· Authority-oriented learners: they like teachers to explain everything, taking notes, reading, etc.
These differences must be taken into account to follow the principles of learner-centred teaching. If our learners prefer traditional learning activities we should start with them and try to move gradually towards acceptance of more communicative activities.
They are by definition limited to those produced by the learners in the class. The material should reflect the outside world and have some authenticity.
Learning how to learn
Different pupils have different ways of learning and different preferences about materials. They must become more and more independent and effective learners.
· Cognitive learning: planning, hypothesising, reflecting, classifying, matching, predicting, …
· Socialisation: collaboration, peer-corrections, …
· Communication: participation, …
It is extremely important the curiosity and a positive attitude towards foreign language learning.
There are mixed-ability groups, so homogenous materials cannot provide effective practice. It has a positive effect on pupils’ attitude.
Assessment and evaluation
Evaluation involves both, teachers and pupils. Pupils should learn how to assess their own progress and also materials, activities, etc., to be aware of their own role as active agents during the learning process. Pupils can fill a diary form about what they have learnt, what mistakes have been made, what they would like to learn next, …
In a learner-centred approach the teacher will be a curriculum developer. He/she must adapt the syllabus to the pupils, contribute with ideas and opinions, answer pupils’ questions on vocabulary, grammar or procedures, provide what pupils ask for, etc.
There can be some resistance from learners who have specific preconceptions about the learning process. Some learners will feel that they are only learning when doing the type of activities they are used to.
In any syllabus there would always be pupil-centred teaching activities.
To face the responsibility for the sequence of events in the classroom it is necessary to record all the work done.
2. IDENTIFICATION OF MOTIVATIONS AND ATTITUDES TOWARDS ENGLISH. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS.
A learner-centred course should be justified in terms of relevance and motivational potential for our pupils.
We must know first the type of pupils we have. We need their description and interests.
Once their needs are analysed, we can get to know their motivations and attitudes towards English. We need to know their language proficiency and patterns of language use, and also their subjective needs, such as expectations and attitudes towards English, which are much more difficult to diagnose.
We can use standardised interviews and proficiency assessments, classroom observation, self-rating scales, ..
E.g.: How do you like learning?
When you speak, do you want to be corrected?
Where do you like learning from?
Do you find these activities useful?
Do you find your English is improving?