Published 27th November 2015
The traditional idea of teaching usually involves the teacher standing at the front of the classroom and the students siting in rows, quietly listening to the teacher. An EFL classroom, however, is quite different. As teaching methods evolved and developed, it was soon realised that in order for lessons to be more effective and the content more memorable, students need to be more involved in the lesson and more responsible for their learning. So EFL classrooms strive to be more learner-centred. How, then, can us TEFL teachers achieve this?
One simple way to ensure your learners are working harder than you are is simply to talk less. If you are talking less, it means that your students have time to think more. It means that you are not always giving them the answers, but making them figure things out for themselves. Research has shown that if you work something out for yourself, it’s more memorable than simply learning by heart what somebody else has told you.
Having a learner-centred classroom does not mean that every learner has to fend for themselves. On the contrary, actually. By taking the focus off yourself and letting the learners think for themselves, they will naturally talk with each other in order to make sure they are on the right track and so work together to accomplish whatever task they need to do. Bouncing ideas off others and discussing different points of view can help our learners realise something they might not on their own and it can foster teamwork within the classroom.
Let your learners take control of the classroom and decide what they want to learn or how they want to learn. Putting them in the driver’s seat gives them a sense of responsibility and power. By doing this you are automatically increasing motivation levels and giving the learners a sense of authority and control.
Flip the classroom
By asking your students to do grammar exercises, readings and research at home for homework, you are opening up your classroom to a whole new range of opportunities. If your students do not need to read or write during the lesson, they will need to talk and listen. They can ask questions for problems which they have, which will ensure the content of the lesson focuses on the needs of the students and not what is dictated by the coursebook.
By making our classrooms more learner-centred you will find that it is your students who end up doing more work than you do, and this is the way it should be. Learning requires effort and that effort should not be to stay awake while your teacher lectures at the board. Instead, by letting our students take control of their learning process (and their classroom), we will be helping them learn in a more natural and personalised way.