Category Archives: Andragogy

Centred and Balanced

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What is student-centred learning?  There are many facets to this idea.  It can be lessons based on students’ needs.  It can mean choosing topics based on students’ interests.  But one of the concepts that is most commonly related to student-centred learning is learning through discovery.  When someone learns through discovery, they are given enough autonomy to interact with materials and consequently discover how things work (think figuring out grammar rules implicitly).  On the other side of the coin you have teacher directed learning where knowledge is transferred from teacher to student (think explaining how grammar rules work). Continue reading

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The Power of Disorientation

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As ESL teachers, we all know that the techniques we need to employ while teaching adult learners differ from those techniques used with children.  Jack Mezirow, a well -respected theorist in the field of adult learning, suggests that adults need to experience a disruption as a catalyst for the learning process.  In his theory of transformative learning, he lays out the steps in the process which result in learning.  The first step toward adult learning comes in the form of a disorienting dilemma.  This dilemma provokes a period of critical reflection to help us make sense of the disturbance.  As a result of our examination of what is happening, we grow.

In my experience as an ESL teacher, most of the participants attending the classes I teach have experienced a lot of Continue reading

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It’s Investment, My Dear Watson!

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No, this is not a blog about Sherlock Homes. It’s about investment, a termed coined by linguist Bonny Norton.[1]

Bonny Norton is one of my favourite linguists. She takes a critical, post-structuralism theory approach to explain how adults become engaged (or disengaged) with their own second language (L2) learning. For those of you who are new to this topic, post-structuralism looks at language from the perspective of language as capital, dominance/non-dominance, and possibilities.

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Is Learner-Centred Teaching the Best for ESL Adults?

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Of recent, it is becoming increasingly clear that more and more ESL students entering our classrooms are expecting a rapid transmission of information, structured presentations, concrete outcomes, a course syllabus, and direction from teachers. Such expectations are not new; they come with most formal classes.  Such expectations, common in traditional classroom settings, coming from Adult ESL learners, necessitate a rethinking of our present learner-centered or constructivist approach. It raises a question: Is there a place for direct instruction in today’s adult classes? Or, is there not a place for the traditional approach? By that, I don’t mean the uncreative and non-liberating approach to education so well described by Paulo Freire. I mean a Continue reading

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