Learner-Centered Classrooms

What is a Learner-Centered Classroom?

In a learner-centered classroom, both 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.

In other words, “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.” (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1999)

Because LinguaFolio Online encourages students to reflect on what they know and can do with the language, to document the knowledge, and to create goals for the next step in their learning journey, it can effectively help teachers create a more learner-centered classroom.

What Does a Learner-Centered Classroom Look Like?

The following characteristics define learner-centered classrooms:

  • Teachers seek background information about students to guide in planning instructional lessons. LinguaFolio Online’s Biography Section can help with this process.
  • Teachers set instructional goals with learners’ needs, backgrounds, and interests in mind. These goals are purposeful and meaningful from students’ point of views. Learn more about goal setting and reflection.
  • Teachers establish short-term benchmarks to monitor students’ progress. Selecting Can-Do Statements in LinguaFolio Online that are relevant to the curriculum helps students identify these short-term benchmarks. Using the portfolio system, teachers guide students in self-assessment, help them document their learning and track their progress toward achieving goals, and help them set increasingly more challenging goals.
  • Teachers use a variety of student groupings to encourage target language communication among students.
  • Teachers make lesson plans flexible to accommodate students’ needs and differentiate instruction.
  • Teachers adjust teaching based on formative assessment results. LinguaFolio Online makes reviewing students’ formative assessments quickly and easily.
  • Teachers use authentic, practical, and realistic activities for language performance. These activities and resources are in addition to the textbook.
  • Teachers provide maximum opportunities for students to use authentic materials.
  • Students feel comfortable asking questions.
  • Students have maximum opportunity to communicate in the target language.
  • 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.
  • The classroom environment is warm, open, and encourages students to participate.

Examples of Learner-Centered Classroom Activities

  • 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 Online that shows what students can do using the target language

How Do I Set Learner-Centered Goals?

As you plan your lessons:

  • Identify the specific short-term learning goals for each class and share those goals with students
  • Identify specific long-term learning goals for each unit and share those goals with students
  • Be sure that both short-term and long-term goals will be meaningful for students; feel free to involve students in this process
  • Determine what evidence students will be able to produce to demonstrate whether they have reached the goal

Example of Learner-Centered Goal Setting

A teacher’s lesson for the day includes the topic “meeting people at an international sports compeition” and focuses on interpersonal communication. At the end of the lesson, the teacher would like the students to be able to:

  • Introduce themselves and others
  • Ask and answer questions about themselves and those they meet
  • Express likes and dislikes about specific sports
  • Make plans, including time and date, for attending particular activities
  • Follow and give directions to specific sport venues and other attractions

At the beginning of the lesson, the teacher orally shares these goals and then posts them. Students are now aware from the beginning of the instruction what they should be able to do at the end of the day.

Be sure to also create a means of evaluating whether students have met goals at the end of the lesson or activity.

If you would like to learn more information about setting learner-centered goals in the classroom, visit the NCSSFL training module hosted by the University of North Carolina’s College of Education.