On the use of a learner-centered approach in foreign language teaching

The article deals with a learner-oriented approach to teaching a foreign language. The role of education in modern society is considered. The relevance of the personality-oriented approach in the study of a foreign language is revealed. Certain values are shown that reflect the professional readiness of future specialists. The main features of the personality-oriented approach are highlighted. In addition, the article considered the content of this approach: teaching activities, the role of independent work of students. The possibilities of a person-oriented approach in teaching a foreign language are revealed. The technology of training in the implementation of this approach is considered. The problems that arise during the implementation of this approach are noted, and some options for their solution are considered. The article shows a personality-oriented approach to teaching foreign languages that affects the learning technology. The authors consider the possibility of using specific methods, techniques and forms of training with practical examples of their application in foreign language classes. Some principles that are characteristic of a person-oriented approach to teaching a foreign language are put forward: self-actualization, individuality, choice, success, and creativity. There are also difficulties in groups with a large number of students. The implementation of a person-oriented approach in teaching a foreign language in such conditions is difficult. It is proposed to create the necessary conditions for the full implementation of a person-oriented approach in teaching a foreign language.


Education leis recognized as one of the priorities of long-term strategy of Kazakhstan. The overall goal of education reform min Kazakhstan is the adaptation of the education system to the new socio-economic environment. In the strategic documents of the Republic of Kazakhstan, an increasing emphasis is placed on the increasing role of human capital and the adoption of a new approach to education as a means of its formation. Education is one of the highest values for the individual and society, acting as the main prerequisites for their existence and development. This article describes how we use the learner-centered approach in English classrooms with future English teachers of mathematics, physics and biology. Teacher education is based on the assumption that students will eventually teach in the way that they were taught. Since these students are studying to become teachers, it is important early in their careers to impart the notion of learnercentered education. This means organizing a class so that students are more involved in the teaching and learning process and the teacher is less likely to dominate classroom events. We have found that that a learner-centered classroom enhances students' development in the process of becoming teachers.

There are two common learning systems in language teaching, they are teacher-centered and studentcentered approaches. In recent years more teachers have moved toward the learner-centered approach. In most cases, it is best for teachers to use a combination of approaches to ensure that all students' needs are met. When both approaches are used together, students can enjoy the positives of both types of learning. Instead of getting bored with teacher-centered education or losing sight of their goals in a completely studentcentered classroom, learners can benefit from a well-balanced educational atmosphere. The definition of the teacher-centered and student-centered approaches is based on a simple fact: the one who speaks more in class is the center. The students speak more than 50 % of the class time — it's a student-centered class. Teacher-centered approach is a kind of learning system when the teacher becomes a center of the process. The student's role of teacher-centered approach is just to be a good listener. The students just receive the material that is given by the teacher. Student-centered approach includes the idea that students have choice in what to study and how to study. Student-centered learning is focused on the student's needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles with the teacher as a facilitator of learning. Teachers provide the way for students to access the material, so students can easier get knowledge. Teachers also should help them to decide the purpose that will be achieved by students, encourage them to evaluate their learning, help them to work together in groups, and make sure that they know the way to use the sources and the facility of learning. The students in this approach have the main role, because they become a center of the learning process. The material is not provided by the teacher but students now are researching the material by themselves. In the student-centered approach, students construct knowledge through gathering and synthesizing information and integrating it with the general skills of inquiry, communication, critical thinking, problem solving and so on. In the student-centered approach the students have a role to decide the learning strategy. So, not only the teacher but also the students choose the appropriate learning strategy. The key decisions about learning are made by the students through negotiation with the teacher. When a classroom operates with student-centered instruction, students and instructors share the focus. Instead of listening to the teacher exclusively, students and teachers interact equally. Group work is encouraged, and students learn to collaborate and communicate with one another. Learner centered teaching is an approach that places the learner at the center of the learning. This means that the learner or student is responsible for learning while the tutor is responsible for facilitating the learning. This is also known as student-centered learning. Learner-centered teaching helps you pave the road to learner success. This idea of the teacher as the «facilitator» means that the focus of teaching shifts from the teacher to the student. This type of teaching should put learners' interests first. Why is a learner-centered approach important? Taking a learner centered approach is important for adult teaching environment for many reasons. One is that it helps to develop learners who can learn and work on their own. This means that it enables life-long learning and independent problem-solving. Another reason it's important is that by putting responsibility for learning in the hands of learners, we encourage them to be active and responsible participants in their own learning. Also, learner centered teaching is seen as good practice internationally. Components of Personal-oriented learning: creating a positive emotional attitude to the work of all students during the lesson; using problematic creative tasks, encouraging students to choose and use different methods of tasks independently, use of tasks that allow the student to choose the type, type and form of the material (verbal, graphic, symbolic), Reflection. Discussion of what happened and what — not, what were the errors, how they were fixed [1].

We can define the main principles of student-centered learning as: the learner has full responsibility for her/his learning; involvement and participation are necessary for learning; the relationship between learners is more equal, promoting growth and development; the teacher becomes a facilitator and resource person; the learner sees himself differently as a result of the learning experience.

Since the students of Mathematics, Physics, Biology Faculties are studying to become teachers according to trilingual education program, it is important early in their careers to impart the notion of learnercentered education. This means organizing a class so that students are more involved in the teaching and learning process and the teacher is less likely to dominate classroom events. We have found that a learnercentered classroom enhances students' development in the process of becoming teachers. English instruction in Kazakhstan is important because without English proficiency, professionals in many sectors of society are blocked from career advancement. The need for more and effective English language teachers is greater than ever before. Yet language education is particularly challenging in Kazakhstan, as it is in other parts of the world, due to the traditional classroom in which teachers are considered authorities and the learning environment is teacher-centered. In a traditional teacher-centered classroom, some students are motivated to learn English. However, we believe that students progress more rapidly in learning English in a more learnercentered environment [2].

This article describes how we created a learner-centered classroom environment with students who come from a teacher-centered background. We explain how we used the communicative approach, process writing, cooperative learning, and strategy and style awareness in courses in listening and speaking, grammar, and writing. We suggest how a teacher can give up some control of the classroom, but not lose control, while creating a learner-centered environment.

Literature review

These are some of the views that Jack C. Richards about student-centered learning and teaching. Dr. Richards is an internationally renowned specialist in second and foreign language teaching, an applied linguist and educator, the author of numerous professional books for English language teachers, and the author of many widely used textbooks for English language students.

According to Jack C. Richards the following are characteristics of student-centered learning:

  1. students work harder than their teachers. In most classes, teachers are doing too many learning tasks for students. We ask the questions; we add detail to their answers. We offer the examples. We organize the content. We do the preview and the review. We should extend part of those responsibilities to the learners.
  2. students learn from classmates. Students can learn from and with each other. Certainly the teacher has the expertise and an obligation to share his/her knowledge, but teachers can learn from students as well.
  3. Students learn more by experiences and active involvement. Teachers nurture students' natural curiosity as students ask questions to complete the assignments.
  4. Students apply new learning to real-life, authentic experiences. Classes focus more on skills that you can use in real-life. Classes that don't have real-life application hardly ever motivate students to engage in meaningful learning.
  5. Students receive frequent directed, and timely feedback. Another characteristic of student-centered learning and teaching is that as students complete some assignments, teachers typically ask learners or groups of learners to talk and compare their results with pairs.
  6. Students are encouraged to explain material to themselves and others. If students are creative enough, they can think about ways to introduce a topic that involves the students in the process.
  7. Students regularly engage in communication. Students need to communicate with each other and that's why this approach to teaching bring more benefit than teacher-centered instruction. Students can introduce a topic, receive feedback from others and complete assignments collaboratively. Students use personalized technology to produce. Students learn by doing so technology, especially mobile phones and tablets which are easier to handle and use than computers can really boost engagement and motivation. If you want your students to create, one of the cheapest and engaging ways is using the resources available on the internet [3].

B.F. Lomov calls personal forms of communication in which there is no subject of activity external to the interaction of partners, or this subject plays only an instrumental role. The driving force of such communication is the value that its partners represent to each other, and the objects that are involved in this process play the role of intermediaries or signs, in the language of which the subjects ' reveal themselves to each other. Under the student-centered communication in the educational process we understand the communication, interest-based person-to-person, friendly, considerate, respect the interviewees on the knowledge and consideration of individual psychological characteristics of their character, temperament, etc. This communication expressed in an appropriate voice, facilitates the expression of personality.

One of the sources of developing the structure of learner-centered foreign language communication is various intensive methods of teaching foreign languages (G.A. Kitaygorodskaya, E.G. Chalnova). E.G. Chalkova understands teaching foreign language communication, first of all, as teaching psychologically adequate interpersonal communication. Such training helps to create an atmosphere of psychological comfort for the interlocutors. Consistent formation of collectivist relationships in a group of students plays an important role in creating optimal conditions for foreign language communication. The problem of the cohesion of the group E.G. Chalkova considers it as a condition for increasing motivation to master the language, for opening the possibility of language communication, for increasing the creative «potential» of the individual. A characteristic feature of most forms of personality-oriented communication is the orientation of the subject of communication to immediately receive a response from the interlocutor, to perceive his reaction and in accordance with this decide in which direction to act next. In this case, it is important to turn the process of language acquisition into a personal process. The transfer of personally significant information will further stimulate new statements of students, which is explained by the ambiguity of perception of such information. In other words, in this case, it becomes possible to translate speech activity into the field of mental processes. With this approach, the main task of the method is to increase the intellectual and mental activity of students.

According To S.S. Kuklina, the personal-oriented approach has a great personal-developing potential and ensures the development of such personal qualities as the ability to work in cooperation, the ability to work independently and creatively thinking.

E.S. Polat believes that the learner-oriented approach makes a significant contribution to the development of such personal qualities that contribute to the comparison of alternative options and the formulation of reasoned generalizations and conclusions [4].


Thus, a person-oriented system of teaching a foreign language is a system that can create the conditions necessary for students to realize their personal goals, needs, abilities and opportunities through learning a foreign language. In student -oriented learning, we define learning itself not as the transfer of knowledge, the development of skills and the organization of learning, but first of all, the creation of conditions for the implementation of the student's personal needs in the field of language education. Person-oriented learning is thus seen in the disclosure of the conditions for the implementation of personal-developmental functions of the educational process. The development of the student's personality will be effective if the following conditions are created:

  •  create and maintain a high level of confidence in the student's achievement of learning goals;
  •  maintain an emotionally positive psychological climate that promotes the student's potential when:

1) the student feels that their rights to receive a language education that will provide them with personal comfort at the end of school are respected;

2) the student feels that they are treated with sympathy and attention, regardless of the results of the teaching.

We believe that Student Centered Learning has more advantages than disadvantages so I would like to talk about some of its advantages.

  •  Many researches show that student-centered learning is effective for every member of the classroom, because it takes into account their diverse learning needs and greatly increases their retention of both knowledge and skills.
  •  Moreover, it emphasizes that learning requires active engagement by the students, so it works to engage student in learning.
  •  Students gain confidence in themselves as they take on new responsibilities.
  •  Student-centered learning enables students to develop the necessary work place skills.
  •  It encourages innovation and creativity through deep learning and requires students to think about their learning, the issues and the problems.
  •  The student learn to be responsible for his own learning and actions.
  •  The student learn things like working with others, team building, developing skills and how to be independent [5].

As for the advantages we can also name the following: 1. Improves participation. The first step towards the success of any Learning program is participation. A learner centered approach addresses all the essential needs of learners, ensuring learners get a personalized and convenient eLearning experience. For example, if a certain learner group prefers games and exercises, the courses should be made more interactive. Similarly, if learners are more likely to access the course content on tablets or mobiles, the courses should be designed to support this need. Due to the minute attention paid to learner's needs, learner centered courses ensure greater participation in Learning. 2. Enhances retention of knowledge. Given that a learner centered approach places high emphasis on relevance and engagement, it greatly influences learners' interest levels. The learner centered approach shifts the focus from traditional eLearning, which emphasized only on graphs and PowerPoint slides, to eLearning with more engaging and simulating content. For example, if you are developing a course for engineers, the course should have real life scenarios that are relevant to their day-to- day problems. Also, the course will have certain elements, which will make them use the knowledge they may have acquired previously. This way, learners will retain the knowledge better as opposed to a plain Learning course with a lot of theoretical knowledge. 3. Increases performance at work. A typical learner centered Learning course will have a lot of scenarios, case studies, role plays, etc. For example, if an organization is training its employees on quality guidelines or industry best practices, a learner centered course with a lot of engaging and interactive content will help learners grasp the content more effectively. This way, learners are more likely to apply their learning at work, leading to improved on-the-job performance. 4. Improves problem-solving skills. A learner centered eLearning course has a lot of real life examples, including games, quizzes, and challenges. For example, the course may have challenges and games involving real life problems, which will force learners to think of solutions. This kind of training develops problem-solving skills, which is useful when learners encounter similar problems at work. 5. Encourage collaborative learning. Learner centered courses provide the opportunity to foster collaborative learning. You should design eLearning courses in such a way that learners have to involve their peers/superiors in completing the course. Alternatively, the courses should have certain group exercises, which makes learners come together to solve problems, and thereby share learning. This approach not only encourages collaboration but also fosters teamwork. Students learn important communicative and collaborative skills through group work; students learn to direct their own learning, ask questions and complete tasks independently; students are more interested in learning activities when they can interact with one another and participate actively.

6. Makes learning process more fun. Use of games and stories in eLearning makes learning more fun. A learner centered approach provides a lot of choices to learners. For example, if a particular course involves research, learners should be given choices of topics for research. Likewise, learner centered eLearning courses use lots of different mediums, such as videos, podcasts, practical assignments, etc. With these elements, learning is no longer perceived as boring and monotonous.

7. Contributes personalized learning. All learners do not have the same learning needs. Some may just like to understand the basics of a concept, while some may like to understand a course in detail. Also, some learners may already have some knowledge about a topic, whereas some of them will be entirely new to the concept. Students learn important communicative and collaborative skills through group work; students learn to direct their own learning, ask questions and complete tasks independently; students are more interested in learning activities when they can interact with one another and participate actively. Advantages also include: a more hands-on, discovery approach to learning and students acting more independently in their learning strategies, instead of relying on an instructor to deliver more material. In fact, student-centered learning has several advantages for both students and teachers. It is evident that, student-centered learning help the students improve and develop their learning and enhance their skills. In addition, by this approach the students can get meaningful knowledge that they should take the responsibility of their learning so that they become life-long learners and that will help them throughout life [6].

Now let's point out some disadvantages: because students are talking, classrooms are often busy, noisy and chaotic; teachers must attempt to manage all students' activities at once, which can be difficult when students are working on different stages of the same project; because the teacher doesn't deliver instruction to all students at once, some students may miss important facts; some students prefer to work alone, so group work can become a bit difficult for them.

  1. It often relies on the teacher's ability to create or select materials appropriate to learners' expressed needs.
  2. Teachers may also find it difficult to strike an acceptable balance among the competing needs and interests of students.

Disadvantages include: an approach to learning with not as much structure or discipline as a traditional method, causing students to feel overwhelmed and maybe not pull as much from learning as they normally would. Also, another disadvantage to learner-centered instruction would be too much independence. On certain new material, students may need a teacher as a key driving force in order to pull everything possible from the lesson, instead of being left alone to discover it out for themselves.

In fact, nothing is perfect in this world. Thus, I think a disadvantage of student-centered learning could be there are students who do not respond well to this kind of environment. That is, some students feel that their teacher should be the one who is fully responsible for their learning and that they should take the knowledge from him/her without paying any effort by themselves for searching for the knowledge [7].

One of the disadvantages that students are suffering from in student-centered learning is that they have to work in teams. In fact, some students find it difficult to work in teams because they have not been taught team skills. The person-oriented approach assumes a special acceptance on the socio-cultural component of foreign language communicative competence. This should ensure a cultural orientation of education, familiarizing students with the culture of the country of the language being studied, a better understanding of the culture of their own country, the ability to present it by means of a foreign language, and the inclusion of students in the dialogue of cultures. All this increases the requirements for the level of students ' learning in a foreign language

As already noted, in a person-oriented learning system, the main thing is to create conditions for the full manifestation and development of personal functions of the subjects of the educational process. Therefore, the main goal of the educational process in a foreign language is to create psychologically comfortable conditions conducive to the development and improvement of the student's personality, who is able to consciously and motivatively study, acquiring linguistic, communicative and socio-cultural competence for foreign language communication in practical and intellectual activities, as well as in the case of included training in the country of the language being studied. From the very first lessons, the teacher tries to create this «moral comfort», that is, such relationships in the group, where everyone's abilities serve not as a border, but as a continuation of their knowledge and skills. It seeks to open up the spiritual wealth of each to others, to bring satisfaction from the understanding that group success depends on the realization of one's own abilities. Such altruistic emotions are the basis for the emergence of a positive emotional tone of knowledge and communication. If in the course of work, the individual does not receive any emotional satisfaction that is more or less close to the process of work itself, then the emotional fatigue caused by the application of volitional efforts steadily accumulates, forming a negative impulse that is directed against the original stimulus. «As a result, the stimulus is soon extinguished, and neither will nor ability can change the course of the process. The teacher sets the emotional type of knowledge and communication from the very beginning, involving the group leaders first, and then the entire group. This is possible in the case of constantly growing success of the activity, sincere participation and interest of the teacher and all members of the group in the slightest success of each student, in the case of solving constantly complicated tasks. The emotional tone of knowledge and communication is maintained throughout the learning process, if the content of the training material causes an internal response in the students, in turn, the emotional tone of knowledge and communication forms the need to adequately Express this or that content, to find the optimal forms of expression for this. The personal-oriented approach also affects the choice of teaching methods/technologies. The need to put the student at the center of the learning process, make him an active subject of the teaching activity, organize his interaction with other students, and give the learning process a real practical orientation makes us prefer such learning technologies as» learning in cooperation and project method (the latter, as we know, can include «learning in cooperation») [8].

Less and less space is occupied in the educational process by such educational speech actions that are not characterized by at least conditional communication, for example, reading the same text by all students and retelling it to each other. Increasingly used group work on different texts, which allows, on the one hand, each student group can perform all possible functions, for example, when studying the reading (reading comprehension): one-to quietly read the text, another highlight unfamiliar words to a third — to look for their meaning in dictionary, fourth -translate a sentence, which causes difficulties for understanding, etc. This work prepares students for real communication — the exchange of information with other groups, read other texts, to evaluative judgments about what they read and hear from others. The functions of students in a group may change, as well as the composition of groups, but it is important that interaction and mutual assistance are carried out. Such work (if properly organized) can contribute to the development of speech initiative, improve educational and communication skills.

These are some examples from my work experience how I use the student-centered learning in the ESL classrooms. Students quiz each other by asking questions and try to find out someone in the group who answers «yes» to each question. Students will be given worksheets «Our free time» question forms; weekend activities. Students work on their own and can write their own questions. They move around the room and ask their questions.

e.g. Activity 1. Find someone who ….. 1. goes clubbing every week Question: Do you go clubbing every week? 2. chats to people online Question: Do you often chat to people online?

When they find a student who answers «yes» to a question, they write the student's name in the second column on the worksheet then ask a follow-up question based on the prompts in the third column. I try to encourage my students to talk to as many different people as possible.

2. Role play activity «Opening night». Students are given role cards and worksheets «What do you re- member?» Role cards: e.g. Student A: You are a film director from Mexico. Student B: You are a journalist from Ireland.

Students must meet all of the guests and by asking questions they should find out as much as they can about each of them. Teacher writes questions on the board: Where are you from? What are you doing in Mexico?

What do you do in your free time? etc.

  1. Group work. Where's Robin? Language: Modal verbs, making deductions. Teacher reminds the students a situation about wedding party. Karen's boyfriend Robin still hasn't arrived at the party. The students are going to help Karen work out where he is.

Students are divided into groups of four. Each student is given a different information card. They work on their own and make deductions about each situation using the verbs: must/could/ may/ might/can + be verb+ing for deductions about something happening now. Then students work in their groups and take turns to tell each other their deductions. When each student makes a deduction, another student in the group must respond using the extra information at the bottom of their cards. For example: Student A might say: He might be writing a report at work. Student C should respond He can't be writing a report. He finished it at five o'clock.

Students continue making deductions until they work out what Robin is doing now.

  1. Pair work. Students quiz each other by showing each other pictures and asking questions such as: What's this? How can you say it in English? What words come to your mind when you see this picture?

Then they can get together with others and review the answers, they can use vocabulary such as: What do you think about question 1? What did you answer in question 2?


Our analysis shows that this form of organization of educational activities has a number of advantages and brings positive results. These methods in teaching a foreign language provide the teacher with the widest opportunities for developing all speech skills, to maintain a constant interest in the study of students ' personal-oriented approach to learning. With a person-oriented approach and the use of appropriate learning technologies, special relationships are created between students and the teacher, between the students themselves, and diverse learning and educational environments are formed, often with an exit from the classroom and school. Person-oriented education is the development and self-development of personal qualities based on universal values. Humanistic personality-oriented education is a pedagogically controlled process of cultural identification, social adaptation and creative self-realization of the individual, during which the child enters the culture, the life of society, and the development of all his creative abilities and opportunities. Person-oriented education by means of a foreign language involves, on the one hand, the use of educational communication, cooperation and active creative activity of the student in the classroom, and on the other hand, the teacher needs to find a way to «introduce» a real foreign language to the school class, to include the student in real language communication, in information exchange, without leaving the classroom, to simulate the real process of entering the culture at school.

A person-oriented situation gives everyone the opportunity to express themselves. Without identifying their own position, students can't navigate the situation, see themselves in relationships with other people, draw conclusions based on their experience, and if necessary, overcome an internal crisis and, having mastered their own emotions, outline a further program of action. It is possible that in the process of working, some will have to reconsider their own attitude to learning [9].

Thus, in the light of the above, we can consider the following provisions on the basis of which a person- oriented model of all the above technologies is implemented:

 Foreign language communication, used both as a goal and as a means of learning, significantly increases the personal interest of students in mastering the subject and contributes to the disclosure of their internal capabilities and creative potential;

– Personal orientation, as a leading means of communication in the system of training — learner, learner — learner, learning group, creating a secondary, internal, emanating from individual student motivation activities;

– Maximum consideration of the socio-psychological characteristics of students and group processes ensures objective management of training and its personal orientation.


In conclusion, we can say that learner-oriented training allows us to most effectively achieve the predicted learning outcomes, to reveal the potential of each student. Taking into account the specifics of the subject «English language», personality-oriented technologies provide the necessary conditions for active cognitive activity of each student, presenting each of them with the opportunity to comprehend new language material, get sufficient oral practice to form the necessary skills and abilities, realize the meta-objectivity of knowledge, ways of activity, and reflexive actions. This approach also allows us to introduce active forms of learning into the educational process, contributing to the development of students ' creative abilities, thinking, and the ability to adapt to a rapidly changing modern society. Emphasis is placed on group and pair work, which «displace» the frontal forms of work. As the most appropriate training technologies acts as training in collaboration, method of projects, the inclusion of such types of work that cause emotional discharge of students.



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Year: 2020
City: Karaganda
Category: Pedagogy