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    Loads of students speculate as to how to pay money for an essay for the simple reason that they don’t have a clue which online writing companies are genuine and which aren’t. It’s imperative for students taking this line of action to be on familiar terms with how to buy an essay from companies which are […]
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    This is a follow up to my previous article on delving into the alternative career of physical therapy. If you’re thinking of becoming a physical therapist working in a private practice, there are a few tactics you might want to consider. Take every chance you can to increase your practice. The following ideas will help to […]
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    Danny Yong explains what he thinks are the important factors to take into consideration when choosing a TESOL course. TESOL courses might seem like they are the same wherever you are, but they are worth investigating. If you are researching a course, here is my advice based on my experience: 1) Location, Location, Location A) Get one nearby. B) Be […]
  • Students who make the decision to buy research papers August 16, 2011
    Whether we as teachers like it or not, online essay assistance is now an everyday occurrence and is becoming common practice among students, perhaps particularly so among second language learners of English struggling to write in a language other than their mother tongue. Allow me then, to play devil’s advocate on this occasion and discuss the […]
  • Who takes a course to Teach English and what are the criteria for selecting one? August 16, 2011
    When it comes to choosing a reputable course provider, it is essential that the following questions be given serious consideration: * Has the company offering the course been in operation long? * Are the course providers successful in placing and absorbing their graduates into the English Teaching industry? * Do the trainers employ the communicative approach […]
  • The Skinny on Teaching English in China August 16, 2011
    An article in which Tom Carter relates his experiences of teaching in Asia’s largest country Having little luck finding an attractive job offer in the U.S. in 2004, I decided to take my skills where they were wanted – abroad. Enticed by the “Teach English in China – No Experience Necessary” ads saturating the online classifieds, I emailed […]
  • Alternative careers: Physical therapy August 16, 2011
    If you’ve had enough of TEFL and have decided it’s time to get out, don’t worry too much. There are many alternatives; one of the many alternative career paths that people can take is a move into the field of physical therapy. As soon as you’ve attained a fitting level of physical therapy education, you can […]
  • Ins and Outs of Working for a Private Institute in Seoul August 15, 2011
    by David Cox Six o’clock on a winter morning. The temperature bottoming out at around -20 C. A tall, not altogether awake Englishman makes his way to work through the dawn streets of Seoul; just another chancer wanting to teach English and taste a bit more of what the world’s got to offer. The tall Englishman […]
  • How to effectively prepare for the CAT, GRE and GMAT August 15, 2011
    The CAT, GRE and GMAT tests are a cause of anxiety and concern for many, many people around the world who are striving to pass these tests and further their careers. Many companies and businesses now require that their employees have professional qualifications and have these tests under their belts, so it is natural that the […]

Effective Learners and a Learner-Centered Classroom

By Douglas Brown

Each learner and each learning experience is unique; yet educators can identify patterns in the learning process. Designing effective learning requirements requires a clear understanding of, and attention to, both commonalities and differences in the learners and the learning.

Since ancient times, the learning process has been a subject of study for philosophers, educators, and scientists. This curiosity continues to drive forward the methodologies used in a classroom. One major change in educational philosophy brought on by this research is the shift in paradigm from a teacher-centered classroom to a learner-centered classroom. This shift makes the students (learners) more responsible for their education, forcing them to draw upon previously learned skills in order to learn new materiel. Gone, then, is the simple task of memorization; replaced with an active, educational process. How does a teacher create a learner-centered classroom? Simple; by following these eight suggestions (the first four given now, the second four given in my next installment), a teacher can not only create a learner-centered classroom, but also shift his/her classroom position from simple lecturer to a knowledge facilitator.

Step 1: Effective learners link new information to prior knowledge.

Meaningful and lasting learning is a cumulative process that connects previously learned material with new knowledge. Background knowledge creates a context and foundation for new material. Unsuccessful students often do not have the skills for linking previous learning to new information. They often lack essential retrieval strategies. Prior knowledge and experience remains inaccessible for these students.

The instructional challenge is to help students get in touch with what they already know. Learners need a repertoire of strategies to help them access this knowledge, as well as strategies for organizing new information into patterns that will help them make connections and integrate new understandings. Some strategies that can aid in this process include (but are not limited to):

1. Visualizations of past learning experiences.

2. Quick (five minute) reviews.

3. Brainstorming and grouping.

4. Venn Diagrams.

5. Semantic mapping.

6. Group or class discussions.

Step 2: Effective learners engage with process and context simultaneously.

Motivating students’ mental engagement is critical to successful education. Engaging instruction is student-centered, designed to instill a sense of wonderment, build self-esteem, and foster creativity. Open-ended experiences, with no “right or wrong” answers allow students to practice generating alternatives to simple memorization of facts, and choose actions and answers based on judgment and not just what they think the teacher wants to hear. In this way, context comes alive as knowledge and skills are applied in context actively and interactively.

When students are given a choice in the when, what, and how of learning, they are more likely to embrace learning goals and increase their commitment to learning tasks. This idea is particularly important to students who feel they have little control over many aspects of their lives. Teachers who provide flexibility will most often get a higher level of responsibility from their students. Methods to accomplish this include:

1. Choices in assignment time frames.

2. Various levels of difficulty for assignments.

3. Different formats for final products.

4. Different methods for task completion.

5. Options for either individual or peer work.

Step 3: Effective learners access and organize information.

The ability to organize information is fundamental to effective thinking and learning. Skilled learners are able to organize information by recognizing and developing patterns both “in and out of the box.”

Learning-focused teachers move from isolated skills lessons to learning strategies lessons, sending the message to students that information gains value when we understand it and apply it. In this way, students gain a tool kit for building, shaping, and connecting information. Teaching students various organizational tools (along with constantly modeling them) provides cues for thinking, frameworks for accessing and retaining information, and the transfer of learning to other settings. This tool kit can contain:

1. Venn diagrams.

2. Story maps.

3. Concept maps.

4. Graphically displayed patterns and connections.

5. Sequence charts.

Step 4: Effective learners require international and external mediation.

In a meditative learning environment, open-ended questions are the norm and both praise and criticism are limited. Students are encouraged to articulate “thinking in progress” as they experiment with both ideas and materials. The goal here is to transfer the external meditative voice of the teacher to the inner voice of the student. This self-talk and student-to-student talk guides the work on topics at hand and provides ways of focusing on and thinking about the materials at hand.

Meditative teachers and their learners mutually develop challenging goals and criteria for success for units and projects. Reflection and self-assessment along the way are critical components of such classrooms. To accomplish internal and external mediation, these tools help:

1. Journals (single-subject and general thought).

2. Learning logs.

The concept of learning and teaching has come a long way from the simple lecture. Teachers now need to take a proactive hand in aiding and developing the learning process as well as teaching students how to learn. Unfortunately, most standard four-week TEFL courses do not include this kind of information during their learning and certification process. It is my hope that these first four suggestions for creating a learning-centered classroom augment your prior knowledge gained through training and experience.

About the Author

Douglas Brown is a moderator and writer for, a free resource helping the ESL/EFL community in Asia and the Middle East for jobs, resumes, schools, resources, yellow pages, classifieds, information and lessons. Stop for Your Second Langauge Needs

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2 comments to Effective Learners and a Learner-Centered Classroom

  • sunisa


    Your article is very helpful for me. I am doing my master degree in Thailand. I just want to know when is your next installment on Effective Learners and a Learner-Centered Classroom is coming.

    Thank you.


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  • Nice summary and some fairly useful ideas, thank you.

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