TOPIC 25. THE STUDENT- CENTREDAPPROACH IN THE FOREIGNLANGUAGE AREA. IDENTIFYINGMOTIVATION AND ATTITUDESTOWARDS THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.PRACTICE APPLICATION.
INTRODUCTIONThe student –centred approach is basedon constructivism tenets since studentsactively construct their own learning.This approach departs from students’previous knowledge and experiences andtakes into account their needs, abilities,interests, and learning styles. The teacherfunction is mainly to facilitate learningexperiences instead of dispenser ofknowledge.
Student –centred learning environment• The learning process is creative and active, andthe teacher is a collaborator.• Student’s motivational orientation is important.• The learning environment will be open, dynamic,trusting and respectful, and will promote thenatural desire and curiosity to learn.• Students will collaborate on meaningful,authentic problems which serve to further theirunderstanding of the subject.• Students participate in the evaluation of theirlearning.
The learners’ characteristics• Age. Children are more spontaneous in the learning of a secondlanguage than adults since the brain lose plasticity. Children are notafraid of other people’s point of view and have less interference oftheir mother tongue.• Emotional factors. If the person is motivated and relaxed, his orher learning process will function much better than if a person’sbrain detects anxiety. When students feel stressed, thinking andmemory are affected and inhibited. This is one of the reasons whywe should create a positive learning environment.• Learning styles. Kinsella (1995) defines student’s learning style as“individual’s natural, habitual, preferred ways of absorbing,processing and retain information and skills”. The knowledge of ourstudents’ learning styles allows us to analyse, motivate and assiststudents in school. When we plan our lessons, we should introducea wide variety of activities and teach in different ways to reach allthe students and motivate them.Teaching requires the difficult task of adapting our lessons to thediversity of the classroom. Even within the same classroom there are alot of differences. Teacher should pay attention to:
Learning styles• Visual learners are those who learn through visualimages, charts, pictures, posters, flashcards, etc.• Auditory learners are those who remember betterwhen they listen to the teacher, follow the oralexplanation of the topic, listening activities, etc.• Kinaesthetic learners are those who needmovement, manipulate to acquire information; theyare good doing things. These are those studentsthat can not sit still for more than half an hour.“I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand.”Confucius
Language aptitudeNot everybody learns a language in the same wayor with the same effort. People have moreaptitude than others to acquire foreignlanguages depending on:1. Phonemic ability: is the ability to distinguishthe foreign phonemes and remember them.2. Grammatical ability: is the ability to recognisethe grammatical function that words have insentences.3. Inductive learning ability: is the ability togeneralise structures.4. Memory capacity: is the ability to associatematerials both in short and long term memory.
The student’s motivation• Intrinsic motivation. It refers to inner factors:- The instrumental refers to the importance that students give to learn anew language for their future. E.g. to study abroad.- The integrative refers to the level of acceptance of English culture. If theylike any famous person, city, team, singer or group of music fromEnglish speaking countries.• Extrinsic motivation. The students are motivated by external factors:- The physical qualities of the classroom: the space, the lighting, thenumber of students, etc.- The student’s characteristics. The characteristics of the students differfrom one group to another so we should teaching in different ways.- The teacher’s characteristics. The teacher attitude has an effect on thelearning process. The teacher should be strict when it is necessary butoverall he or she should be kind towards and respectful on his/ herstudents.- The teacher’s goal. The teacher should be realistic with the right level foreach class.- The methodology. When planning, we should keep in mind the students’interests and needs, and to use an active methodology in whichstudents participate.
The student’s attitude• The positive attitudes are typically connectedto the speakers of the language in question andthe culture represented by its speakers. Isstudents are interested in the countries wherethe languages are spoken; they will be moremotivated to learn the language.• Negative attitudes, on the other hand, canimpede language learning. These attitudes areusually the result of a lack of interest ordifficulties with the teacher, low self esteem,learning difficulties, low expectations, rejection ofthe culture, etc.
An English environmentWe can find two options in the schools. The first one is to haveour own English classroom and the students come in, andthe second one, the most widespread, is that the teachergoes to their students’ classroom and, consequently, has tocarry all the materials from one classroom to another.If we had our own English classroom, we could hang ordisplay on the walls maps and flags of the different Englishspeaking countries, posters and pictures of importantspeaking people (actors, singers, athletes, etc.), cities,monuments, etc; hang on students’ works, the importantvocabulary of the topic, routines and common sentencessuch as “What’s the meaning of…?, Can I…?”, the rules,and so on.We could arrange the materials in the different corners e.g.the library with dictionaries, books, stories, DVD, etc.However, the reality is that teachers have only an Englishcorner where the space is quite reduced.
A pleasant atmosphere• The interaction between peers and teacher –students has to create acommunicative environment, fun, respectful and tolerant.• Active and participatory, we should ensure that everyone has thechance to speak and express what he or she feels. The teacher shouldnegotiate with the students the contents and methodology of the courseencouraging them to formulate their own objectives.• Reality: situations related to the students lives, habits and experiences.• Variety: to use a wide range of contents, materials, topics, games andactivities, structures, vocabulary and accents.• Safety: students should feel confident expressing themselves and notworried about errors. Errors are natural part of the learning process.• To design the classroom rules, routines and procedures at thebeginning of the year or the didactic unit. If everyone knows exactly whatto do and how to do it and why they have to do it, the final product will bea success.• ZDP Vygotsky: Comprehensible Input is very important, neither toodifficult or easy. To adapt the lessons to our students’ characteristics.• Interesting lessons with enjoyable materials, activities, games, Englishsongs, etc.• To change their seating arrangements depending on the type of activity.
PRACTICE APPLICATION• Miming new vocabulary.• Mouthing new vocabulary.• Pretending to not understand L1 speech.• Conducting classroom business in English.• Step by step art projects.• Reading in different voices.• Turn the activities into games.• To provide them with English names; it is afunny and interesting for them and it is anexcellent way to teach pronunciation.
CONCLUSIONIt is vital than students be motivated and have good attitudestowards the target language. Students must learn thelanguage and the culture of English speaking countries in acontext that is not real. The teacher should show them theimportance of the language in the world of communication.Attitudes are shaped by social factors. Student’s attitude canchange if they realise the importance of to know a newlanguage for their future. Motivation is not a fixed pattern. Itvaries from one moment to the next depending on thelearning context, topic or task. The more motivated studentswill learn a new language easier.The student centred approach and the creation of an Englishand positive learning environment will help them to bemotivated and have positive attitudes towards the targetlanguage. Here the role of the teacher is very relevantthrough the activities we propose, the environment wepromote and the type of lessons we carry out.