Student-Centered Learning in ELL Classrooms

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  • 0:00 The ELL Situation
  • 0:57 Creating…
  • 1:44 Managing…
  • 2:16 Student-Centered Goals
  • 2:55 Student-Directed Room Layouts
  • 3:19 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Matthew Hamel

Matt has degrees in Journalism and Business and has taught a variety of courses at high schools and universities around the world.

Crafting an appropriate yet challenging classroom environment can be daunting, but it is possible. This lesson outlines strategies teachers can use to create a student-centered learning environment in English Language Learner (ELL) classrooms.

The ELL Situation

As a teacher, you know that teaching English Language Learners (ELLs) involves its own set of both challenges and rewards. One way to mitigate some of the challenges is to create an environment conducive to student-centered learning. This lesson outlines a few strategies that can be employed to create such an environment. However, before you focus on student-centered learning, it's important to keep a few things in mind.

First of all, student-centered learning does not mean that students are in control or that they dictate the activities that take place in the classroom. Rather, student-centered learning means that there is less focus on the teacher, and more focus on the contributions and actions of the learners. When student-centered learning is done well, students should feel that their input is driving the class. Nevertheless, make sure that you maintain control of the classroom while employing the following techniques.

Creating Student-Centered Learning

The first step in the student-centered learning process is to create activities and procedures that will encourage your ELLs to become self-motivated and self-reflective. Some of these activities can include:

  • Small group discussions at the beginning and end of each class. If you use this strategy, be sure to rotate group members on a regular basis so that your students are exposed to different viewpoints and opinions.
  • Self-directed pair or group presentations or reports. This strategy allows students to decide what to research after you've provided an overall topic.
  • Student-selected topics. If you employ this strategy, it can be helpful to provide students with general guidance so that the topics they choose will be relevant to both your class and the learning environment as a whole.

Managing Student-Centered Learning

Part of the process of creating a student-centered learning environment in ELL classrooms is to ask students to provide both ideas and feedback on how certain elements of a lesson should be conducted. The extent to which you have a hands-off approach is primarily up to you. Obviously, young ELLs will need more guidance than older or more advanced ELLs. However, by creating an open suggestion policy that all students are aware of, they may become more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas with both you and their classmates.

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