As part of the post series on my beliefs as a teacher, today I would like to discuss the role of the learner as I see it from where I stand. I will try to make this as generic as possible, even though I believe the role of a 4-year-old child is very different from that of an adult or a teenager.
However, as language learners I believe all learners:

  • are complex human beings, with their own story, experiences and education, all of which they bring in class with them;
  • are responsible for their own learning, therefore can be helped only inasmuch as they want to be helped;
  • want to be engaged, listened to, helped, corrected;
  • are different, but have some common traits that the teacher can explore and use to engage them (for example in a group lesson);
  • can transfer skills from L1 to the target language if the teacher helps them to do so;
  • sometimes need help in finding the best way to learn. I’m still not sure about how much learners acquire language in a similar way and how much they can be said to have ‘multiple intelligences’, but what I have experienced is that all students (excluding VYLs) benefit from some learner training;
  • (this is true especially for adult learners) tend to feel self-conscious about speaking in a foreign language;
  • if they are studying a foreign language it means they they are making an effort, taking time out of their day (and often money our of their pockets) to come to class. For this, I think they should all be respected, no matter how “difficult” they can be.