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Опубликован: 18.11.2015 | Уровень: для всех | Доступ: платный
Лекция 10:

Learning and teaching


Limit Teacher Talking Time - the teacher is the stimulator and the students should be responding. The only time when this is not true is when you are modelling extended text - for example story telling or a speech. Then it is useful for your students to hear a lot of you all of a sudden!

Group work, clear board work, clear instructions and tasks that the students fell confident doing will all reduce Teacher Talking Time.


It is essential to write clearly. You may need practice. It is not as easy as it looks to write on a black/white board and keep it straight! Print wherever possible. This is especially important if any of the students you are teaching use a different script in their own language. Don't write everything in capital letters. (Remind yourself of the discussion on board work in Unit 3 Module 4)


Your students need encouragement. Even if the answer you get is completely incorrect don't say 'NO!', try intonation which means 'No, but...' then allow someone you know will have the correct answer to give their version. Don't be afraid to use 'good' frequently, even if it has to be 'Good, but let's hear X's answer' (when you know that his/her answer will be better). This will encourage student Y to try again another time. 'NO!' may discourage. Don’t be afraid to show gently that an answer has not been given clearly and that you don’t quite understand - a puzzled expression from you gives the student a chance to practice reformulation - rephrasing something in a different way and this is a very valuable skill. It may also be that a class member can pick up on the idea and help to explain - it might be a good one!


Use as little of this as possible, but know it yourself for use with advanced classes and language-conscious nationalities. There is nothing worse than a teacher who drones on and on about the subjunctive or present participle and thinks that this is ‘teaching English’. But don’t think you can get away with shaky and incomplete grammar knowledge yourself. Students will ask you difficult questions and put you on the spot. Remember to use ‘deductive analysis’ (Unit 2 Module 1) to get out of awkward situations. BUT also remember you should know your stuff if you want to keep your credibility intact! So go away and find out before the next lesson.


Encouraging students to use English outside the class is a key classroom management technique. We should be as much as possible linking what happens in the class with what happens in the outside world. Graded readers are available from most publishers at most levels; newspapers are always available in English, some are written for the ex-patriate community and contain useful articles. The internet has a bewildering large supply of trivial and less trivial information - everything from how to make a chocolate cake to discussions of highly charged issues.

The days of the teacher having to say: ‘I’ll find out for you’ are numbered in many parts of the world - students more and more are able to find things for themselves and indeed should be given the responsibility of doing so.

Ask your students for the latest news each morning - this will get them into the habit of finding out on their way into school, listening to the BBC World Service, accessing news websites and so on. There is a marked difference in the learning skills of people with a wide general knowledge - it helps them so much with understanding languages and concepts.

An active learner is one who bounds in saying ‘Have you heard about…..?’

Now consider the following extract:

Promoting autonomy

Most teachers are keen to talk to students about the importance of becoming autonomous learners. But just telling students that autonomy is in some way a good thing will have little effect unless it is part of a wider course design - and unless we find ways of helping students to become more independent. Sarah Cotterell suggests that language courses which aim to promote learner autonomy should have a number of defining characteristics. In the first place, the course should reflect the learners' goals in its language, tasks and strategies. This means raising the students' awareness of ways of identifying goals, specifying objectives and identifying resources which will help them to realise these goals. Next, the course tasks should be explicitly linked to a simplified model of the language learning process. In other words, Sarah Cotterell suggests, students are unlikely to be able to manage their own learning if they have no idea of how learning works; it is by developing an awareness of language-learning theory that they are able to adopt learning strategies for themselves. Course tasks should replicate real-world communicative tasks (or provide rehearsal for such tasks) and, finally, the course should promote reflection on learning (CottereIl 2000: 111-112).

Learner training, learner autonomy

It is possible that some students will be keen to take responsibility for their own learning from the very beginning of a course. However, most teachers know that this is unlikely unless they are given help in thinking about how they learn and how this learning can be made more effective. Learner training, in other words, is a first step on the road to self-directed learning. Together with activities where students are encouraged, or even (sometimes) forced, to take responsibility for what they are doing, learner training gives those who are prepared to take it the possibility of real autonomy.

Thinking about learning

In the following learner training example, students are encouraged to think about what (and how) they have been learning, are made to think about different ways of listening and are offered different strategies for them to choose from.

Under the influence of the Common European Framework, many teachers and materials writers have students go through a checklist of 'can do' statements at the end of each unit. For example, they have to tick statements such as I can use the present continuous to talk about the future or I can construct a business letter using appropriate language and layout. If they don't feel they can tick a statement, they have a clear indication that they should go back and study the language or the language skill they still seem to have trouble with.

A more elaborate way of getting students to reflect on what they have done recently is to ask them to complete sentences about, say, last week's work, e.g.

  • The things that I enjoyed most in last week’s lessons was/were …
  • The things I learnt last week that I did not know before was/were …
  • The things I am going to do to help me remember what I learnt last week is/are …
Taking over

The ideal situation is for the students to take over their own learning - in other words, to do it without having to be shown how by the teacher. There are various ways of trying to bring this about. In the first place, what we have called the 'immediate creativity' phase is the moment when we get students to take the language for themselves. They are no longer just repeating what we have told them to; instead, they are trying to use the new language to say things they want to. When we get students to make their own dialogues with new language, the same thing is true; the moment they invent their very own conversations, they are, to some extent, taking the language into their own hands. Earlier we looked at a number of dictionary activities in which students both learnt how dictionaries worked and then learnt how to use them. Once students are capable of using dictionaries in this way, they have, in effect, taken over since they can get word information with or without our help. When students get to make (or help to make) decisions about what happens in and out of class, they can be seen to have at least partly taken over in the same way. Thus, for example, when a teacher says You can decide what we do next. We can either listen to someone talking about different kinds of education, we can read a text about a special education experiment or we can have a discussion about different kinds of discipline ... and the students choose which of these they are going to do, they have a degree of agency. Except in exceptional circumstances, we are not suggesting that students should take over the whole design and running of a course. That, surely, is our job and we bring our professional skills to bear when we decide on the programme we are going to ask students to follow. But within that programme, the more we can get students to rely on their own decision-making, the better. We can get them to tell us what they want and need to do next via discussion, needs analyses or other forms of action research. We can ensure that some of their time is spent in a self-access centre, and we can do our best to ensure that they learn outside the classroom and after the course.

Learning journals

One way in which teachers try to encourage students to become autonomous is by encouraging them to write journals. But journal writing has other benefits, too. In the first place, writing journals provides good writing practice and helps to improve the students' general writing skills. In the second place, journals allow students to express feelings more freely than they might do in public, in class. If they know that their journals are not going to be read by everyone (unless they want people to read them), they will write more openly. And because the act of writing is less immediate than spontaneous conversation, they have more time to access those feelings. Journals can also provide a kind of teacher-student dialogue that is often impossible in a whole-class environment. We can often learn things about our students which we were previously unaware of when we read what they write in these journals. For example, when Lakshmy Krishnan and Lee Hwee Hoon asked students to keep diaries at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, they found themselves 'listening to voices' which gave them strong messages about individual concerns and needs. As a result of reading these journals, the course leaders found themselves thinking up new ways of helping students from outside Singapore who had shown, through their journal entries, that they were homesick and disoriented (Krishnan and Hoon 2002).

From the point of view of learner autonomy, journals provide an opportunity for students to think both about how they are learning (i.e. what is easier or more difficult, and why and how they achieve success), and also about what they are learning (i.e. aspects of the language and how it all fits together). This kind of introspection may well lead them to insights which will greatly enhance their progress. Just as teacher journals provoke their writers into reflecting on how and why things have happened so that they can decide what to do next, so student journals may well provoke creative introspection in their writers. A marked benefit of such introspection when it occurs is its effect on memory. There are good reasons for supposing that when we have a chance to reflect carefully on what we have done, we are far more likely to remember it than if we simply discard an experience the moment it is over.

Forcing agency?

Before we leave the subject of getting students to assume agency (to take responsibility for their learning), we need to discuss limits to our attempts to make this happen. If, as we have suggested, learning is conditioned both by the student's educational culture and also by his or her individual learning styles and preferences, then the idea that all students should be forced to become autonomous seems unnecessarily prescriptive. Why should students who are, for whatever reason, reluctant to become autonomous, have autonomy thrust upon them?

The fact is that in the words of an old English proverb, you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink. And if it doesn't want or need to drink, you shouldn't make it do so anyway. Some students, like horses at the water's edge, just don't get it; for them the teacher is the one who is responsible for their learning, and they expect the teacher to do their job.

Faced with the reluctance of at least some of the students in a group to assume agency, we have to consider what we can do both for those students and for others in the group who are keener on the idea of taking learner responsibility.

But however much students do or do not take up our offer of training for autonomy, there is a group of activities which at the very least make their participation mandatory. These are activities where students have to take part in order for the activity to be a success. For example, a story-circle will only work because every member of the group is obliged to write a new sentence every time they are given a new piece of paper. Opting out is not an option (unless, of course an individual student has a serious behaviour problem, but that is another issue).

The self-access centre (SAC)

A useful adjunct to classroom learning - or indeed alternative to it - is the self-access or (open) learning centre. In SACs students can work on their own (or in pairs and groups) with a range of material, from grammar reference and workbook-type tasks to audio and video excerpts. They can work with books, worksheets, CDs and DVDs, or they can access material from computers, whether hooked up to an Intranet - that is all programs working from a main server run by the institution where the SAC is located - or whether they have access to the Internet.

Some modern SACs consist of little but banks of computers. Others, which rely on books and paper, will almost certainly have large collections of learner literature, dictionaries, reading texts and listening materials. Where possible, SACs either have separate rooms or have one large room divided into sections for different kinds of material, though it is also possible to put large amounts of self-access material on a trolley that can be wheeled from class to class. In well-regulated SACs, students drop in either as a regular part of the timetable or in their own spare time. Some students may have signed up to be allowed to use the SAC even though they are not in any English class; they are, therefore, not actually following a regular course. Once inside the room (or hooked up to a computer), they will decide what work to do, find the right kind of material and activities, and settle down to complete the learning task.

After (and outside] the course

As Susan McLean Orlando suggests, the kind of learning that occurs in formal settings 'may represent only a fraction of the learning experienced by participants' (McLean Orlando 2006: 45). If they are studying in a target-language community such as Australia, Britain, Canada, New Zealand or the USA, for example, they are likely to hear and see English all around them in shopping malls, on advertising billboards or on TV or the radio. Increasingly, even when they are studying in what were once considered EFL situations, they may have access to the Internet for a wide variety of genres from newspaper reports to blogs, from poetry to pop songs. As English becomes more and more of a lingua franca, there is more and more chance that students will be exposed to English in the real world outside the classroom, too. In most situations, teachers and students can have access to competent English speakers who, for example, work for international companies or who take part in English-language theatre productions or other recreational activities.

When students are attending our lessons, we can do our best to make them aware of all these resources. We need to remind them of all the ways they can access English on their own. We can set them tasks, such as bringing in English they have found on their own every Monday morning, or having them report on what they have done to enhance their English outside the class. We will promote extensive reading and listening, of course, and we can also ask them to use their learning journals as records of the English they have investigated on their own.

However, sooner or later students will stop attending our lessons (or may not want to or be able to attend lessons of any kind). Now they really are on their own, and unless they can find some way of continuing to learn autonomously, their English is unlikely to improve and might even begin to deteriorate. There is a lot we can do to help our students plan for the teacher-free future.

Training students to continue learning

Much of the advice that students are given about continued learning is not taken up (Braymen 1995). It is too general and though students know it is all sound counsel, they cannot follow the advice because the whole idea is too 'big', too amorphous. We need, therefore, to offer specific guidance which will allow them to focus on exactly what suits them best.

The first thing we need to do is to include 'continuing learning' as a topic in the syllabus. We can involve students in awareness-raising activities; together we can list all available sources of English before discussing which are most appropriate for their individual needs and how and where to get hold of them. We can consider the various skills that the students might want to work on, and re-visit various styles of language study and language research which they can usefully carry out on their own.

To train students in ways of using resources at their disposal, we can organise 'self-study' projects in class, which they can later replicate when they are on their own. For example, we might direct them to watch an English language news channel on TV and note down the main story headlines before following up those stories in newspapers or on the Internet. We can start, perhaps, by providing the material on CD, tape or DVD. Later, students can start accessing news material on their own, using the techniques we have practised earlier. By the time the course is over, they may have acquired the habit of accessing this kind of material on their own. We can get students to use classroom techniques on their own, encouraging them to predict the content of texts before they read in detail, and then decide on a maximum of ten unknown words to look up in their dictionaries after they have read. We can train them to be their own language researchers by looking for new words and patterns that they have come across in subsequent texts. In this sense, all the learner training we do in class has enormous potential for students working on their own, since, once having considered the best ways to learn, they can use these ways to improve without the necessity of teacher supervision.

A powerful way of getting students to continue with their language use, especially where a successful group is coming to an end, is to encourage them to stay in touch with each other. They can do this by email or by setting up a users' group on the Internet (e.g. with Yahoo groups - see http://groups.yahoo.com - where it is extremely easy to set up a discussion group so that people can talk to a whole group at the same time). Finally, students can access the many sites for language learners which are available online. Some of these are attached to schools the students have studied at, but there are many other sites, too, which provide free language exercises and other material for people who want to continue studying on their own.

Adapted from The Practice of English Language Teaching, Jeremy Harmer 2007, Longman.

Вадим Бондарь
Вадим Бондарь
Как найти и выбрать тьютора?
Ирина Суханова
Ирина Суханова
здравствуйте! я прохожу курс учитель англ. языка. я отправила тест №1, как долго его будут проверять.
Садокат Алимова
Садокат Алимова
Узбекистан, Первостроители Навои