One of the main problems I have seen while teaching English as a second language is the lack of opportunities students have to practice or produce language. Sometimes, we as teachers focus on providing long grammar explanations because we want to make sure that our students can learn the most from us. Teacher-centered learning has the teacher at its center in an active role and students only listen or have a passive role.
This type of approach is widely used in ESL settings and it is considered practical and easy to handle because it requires less preparation to create instructional materials. Teachers stick to the textbook, give lectures, play listening exercises and direct every single activity. I am not saying this is wrong because there must be a facilitator in the classroom but what about students’ needs, interests, ideas?
EMpowerment follows a more student-centered perspective where students actively participate in discovery learning processes by having some power over their learning experience. Dr. Jones highlights this power when learners take decisions and feel autonomous as they express their thoughts and engage more into the learning environment.
Dr. Jones describes in his book 4 strategies that teachers must taken into account to ensure students feel eMpowered. These ones are:
- Provide students with choices during class and within assignments.
- Provide rationales when requiring students to do something.
- Don't give rewards that may be perceived as controlling.
- Avoid controlling language that disempowers students.
The following PDF files provide a compilation of activities that ESL teachers may include when designing and are related to the four aforementioned strategies.