Learner-Centered Classrooms

What is a learner-centered classroom?

“All student activities involve active cognitive processes, such as creating, problem solving, reasoning, decision-making, and evaluation.  In addition, students are intrinsically motivated to learn due to the meaningful nature of the learning environment and activities.”

Engagement Theory, Greg Kearsley & Ben Shneiderman, 1999 http://home.sprynet.com/~gkearsley/engage.htm

In a learner-centered classroom, teachers and students reflect on the learning process. Teachers learn to shift the focus to the learners and encourage them to share responsibility for their learning.

As you learn how to create a learner-centered classroom, you will also learn what parts of the LinguaFolio can be helpful with your specific STARTALK program.

The following are characteristics of learner-centered classrooms:

  1. The teacher seeks background information about students to guide in planning instructional lessons.
  2. The teacher sets instructional goals with learners’ needs, backgrounds, and interests in mind.
  3. The teacher differentiates instructions based on learner needs.
  4. The teacher uses a variety of student groupings to encourage target language communication among students.
  5. The teacher sets goals that are purposeful and meaningful from the students’ point of view.
  6. The teacher makes lesson plans flexible to accommodate students’ needs.
  7. The classroom environment is warm, open and encourages students to participate
  8. Students feel comfortable asking questions.
  9. Students have maximum opportunity to communicate in the target language.
  10. The classroom is arranged in a manner that is easy for students to work together in pairs or groups and also easy for the teacher to move around to facilitate conversations among student groups.
  11. The teacher uses authentic, practical, and realistic activities for language performance.
  12. The teacher adjusts teaching based on formative assessment results.
  13. The teacher provides maximum opportunities for students to use authentic materials.
  14. The teacher uses a variety of resources beyond the textbook.
  15. The teacher establishes short term benchmarks to monitor students’ progress.
  16. The teacher guides students in self-assessment using LinguaFolio so students are aware of their progress and can set future goals for improving.

Some Suggested Activities to enhance Learner-Centered Classrooms

  • Think-pair-share
  • Learner logs
  • KWL charts
  • Application cards
  • Admit and exit slips
  • Pair and small group work
  • Journal writing
  • Interviewing native speakers
  • Rubrics and self-assessments
  • Peer assessment
  • A portfolio like LinguaFolio that shows what you can do


For more information, go to Module 3 of LinguaFolio Online Training – http://www.learnnc.org/lp/editions/linguafolio/3.0