Learner-centered Approach

Submitted to:
Ma'am Salma Kaleem

Submitted by:
Anam nawaz Sehla Nawaz Naila Akram Anila Mumtaz Sanam Afsar M.A English 2nd Semester Date: 12-03-2010


A learner-centered approach in language instruction is founded on the concept that the learner is central in the learning process. Learners learn primarily because of what they bring, in terms of their perceived needs, motivations, past experiences, background knowledge, interests and creative skills to their classroom experience. Teachers, on the other hand, are seen as "facilitators, helpers, and resources" (Campbell and
Kryszewska 1992) and their role becomes de-centralized.

Student-centered learning (SCL), or learner-centeredness, is a learning model that places the student (learner) in the center of the learning process. In student-centered learning, students are active participants in their learning; they learn at their own pace and use their own strategies; they are more intrinsically than extrinsically motivated; learning is more individualized than standardized. Student-centered learning develops learning-how-to-learn skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and reflective thinking. Studentcentered learning accounts for and adapts to different learning styles of students (National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. 1999).

The concept of student-centered learning has been credited as early as 1905 to Hayward and in 1956 to Dewey·s work (O·Sullivan 2003). Carl Rogers, the father of client-centered counseling, is associated with expanding this approach into a general theory of education (Burnard 1999; Rogoff 1999). Rogers (1983a:25), in his book ¶Freedom to Learn for the 80s·, describes the shift in power from the expert teacher to the student learner, driven by a need for a change in the traditional environment where in this ¶so-called educational atmosphere, students become passive, apathetic and bored·. In the School system, the concept of child-centered education has been derived, in particular, from the work of Froebel and the idea that the teacher should not ¶interfere with this process of maturation, but act as a guide· (Simon 1999). Simon

highlighted that this was linked with the process of development or ¶readiness·, i.e. the child will learn when he/she is ready (1999).

Role of Learner
Learners are active as opposed to passive recipients of knowledge. Learners may assume a decision-making role in the classroom. Learners often decide what is to be learned, through which activities, and at what pace. Learners can also produce materials and provide activities for the classroom.

Role of Teacher
To put this approach into practice, teachers need to help students set achievable goals; they encourage students to assess themselves and their peers; help them to work co-operatively in groups and ensure that they know how to make use of all the available resources for learning. In short we can conclude the role of teacher in the following verse As teachers we should always remember the ¶Wise Old Owlµ:

The wise old owl lived in an oak The more he saw, the less he spoke The less he spoke, the more he heard Why canµt we all be like that bird?

Student-centered learning is about helping students, 1. To discover their own learning styles, 2. To understand their motivation 3. To acquire effective study skills that will be valuable throughout their lives. Note: Errors are seen as a constructive part of the learning process and need not be a source of embarrassment.

Features of learnercentered learning
When planning more student-centered lessons it is useful to remember the following: Ask donµt tell: always try to elicit information, ideas, and answers from the students. They are not empty vessels waiting to be filled by the all-knowing teacher. They have knowledge and experiences of life, as well as language which can contribute greatly to the learning process. The more they contribute, the more they are likely to remember. We should never underestimate the ability of our students. Focus on studentsµ experience and interests: if the teacher chooses the topic, or just follows the course book, the students may not be interested. If, however, teachers use the course book as a base for then moving on to practice activities relating to the students' personal lives and areas of interest and experience (personalisation), the students are more likely to become involved in the lesson, thereby remembering more. Communication over accuracy: the main reason for students learning a language is to be able to communicate with other speakers of that language. In reality they will probably speak English with more non-native speakers from the region than with native speakers, and the ultimate goal is to be able to understand and respond to each other. Students therefore need opportunities to practise communicating in English without the constant fear of making mistakes hanging over them. If you feel the need to correct their mistakes, don't interrupt their conversations, make notes and give feedback later. Learning by doing: the more actively involved students are in their own learning, the more they are likely to remember what they learn. Students have choices and make decisions about learning. Group work requires negotiation and decision making ± working together towards a common goal. Focus on confidence building for real-world skills. By developing communicative competence, language again becomes more ¶realµ and part of the studentsµ lives. Encourage interest in English used in the real world. By using authentic materials familiar to the students (magazines, the internet, video, television, letters etc.), students are constantly in touch with the language in an absorbing way.

Tasks are open-ended, i.e. there is more than one possible answer. Traditional grammar based tasks are either right or wrong and test only one skill at a time. They are generally unimaginative, often in the form of multiple choice answers (so the students have a 25% chance of being right without actually knowing the answer at all) and totally divorced from ¶real worldµ situations. Open-ended tasks are wider in their focus and involve a variety of language skills. High exposure to English through the use of authentic materials again: students may be set homework involving research undertaken using the internet or other English language reference sources. Students learn more than language. They are also encouraged to think critically and develop problem-solving skills through more creative tasks and group work.

The main principles of student-centered learning are:
y y y

y y y

The learner has full responsibility for her/his learning Involvement and participation are necessary for learning The relationship between learners is more equal, promoting growth, development The teacher becomes a facilitator and resource person The learner experiences confluence in his education The learner sees himself/herself differently as a result of the learning experience.

Here is an example in which learner-centered approach is practiced Example Students think of their hobbies. In groups of ,6 students make a script of a conversation where they talk together about their hobbies. Students make a tape 6) tapes in total (and a matching exercise. Students swap tapes between groups ,listen and match hobbies with speaker names . They listen again and complete a feedback form. Students receive feedback from peers and the teacher

The effectiveness and critiques of studentcentered learning
The use of student-centered learning appears to be reflective of today·s society where choice and democracy are important concepts, however is it an effective approach to learning? Lea et al. (2003) reviewed several studies on student-centered learning and found that overall it was an effective approach. Students in a UK University elaborated on the impact of student-centered learning on them, i.e. they felt there was more respect for the student in this approach, that it was more interesting, exciting, and it boosted their confidence (Lea et al. 2003). Student-centered learning, despite its popularity, is not without its critics. The main critique of student-centered learning is its focus on the individual learner. In addition, there are some difficulties in its implementation, i.e. the resources needed to implement it, the belief system of the students and staff, and students· lack of familiarity with the term.

In a student-centered classroom, students are involved in the learning process and become committed to improving their English. Different learning styles can be accommodated, and students can help each other to develop their skills. So to conclude the whole discussion we can say that learner-centered approach is the approach which has its main emphasis on the learner and teacher plays his role passively as a guide in the classroom. The concern of this approach is with the process of language learning.


Lesson Plan Topic:
Vocabulary Enchantment


Duration of Class:
45 minutes

Language Skill:
Speaking skill

Communicative Language Teaching

Handouts Charts

Group of Formation:
Class as a whole/ no groups


y To increase the vocabulary of students y Encourage class-partition of the students y To improve the pronunciation of the students

y The teacher prepared an activity for the class which could enhance the vocabulary of the student and could involve the whole class in discussion as well. y Teacher prepared a chart on which she wrote the alphabets and left blank space to write the most suitable word starting with alphabet. y Teacher took print out of these alphabets chart to distribute in the class room.

Practice: Activity:Teacher will distribute handouts in the class and will paste the chart on the board too. Then teacher will introduce the students with the topic and the related activity. Teacher will ask them to ensure full participation in the class.

Encouraging creativity
When in groups or pairs, students can work together without worrying about Losing face in front of the whole class when they say something unusual or Incorrect. They can experiment with their English and take risks, rather than Play it safe. Special activities can help them be more creative. Of course, students all can recite the alphabet (ABCEFG . . .), but saying letters in isolation may not be so easy. A short introduction by teacher's side starting to do the task in a creative way sets the Scene, and shows students how their conversation might begin.

It·s an activity where even students with limited English proficiency can exchange ideas, challenge one another, and have a lot of fun without feeling their English is inadequate for the task. They can set themselves the challenge of coming up with unusual or long or difficult-to-spell words. They may find that conversations like this can be really satisfying: Can you think of any words beginning with D? ² Hmm. Let me think. Dog. Day. Date. Dark. No, those are too short. I know! D as in dangerous! ² That·s good. Dangerous-ly! ² Even better! Well done! How do you spell that? Um. D-A-N-J . . . No, G. D-A-N-G-E . . . Moreover, in such a conversation, students are using English to communicate in a meaningful way.

Home task
Teacher will ask the students to find more words and their meanings as home work.

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