Learner Centered Approach

The learner centered approach is a general orientation toward language teaching that has evolved since the 1970s in reaction to teacher-fronted, top-down language teaching classrooms and curriculum. In general, a learner-centered approach focuses on the background, needs, and expectations of students to create a more effective, authentic, and focused language-learning environment. Information about students is obtained through various types of instruments used to determine students’ needs and wants. From this information, curriculum and a syllabus are designed to help the students obtain their target goals. Activities in class also focus on activities in which students take an active role. As students’ needs and abilities change, so may the curriculum and syllabus.

Learner-centered teaching is an approach to teaching that is increasingly being encouraged in higher education. Learner-centered teachers do not employ a single teaching method. This approach emphasizes a variety of different types of methods that shifts the role of the instructors from givers of information to facilitating student learning.

Traditionally instructors focused on what they did, and not on what the students are learning. This emphasis on what instructors do often leads to students who are passive learners and who did not take responsibility for their own learning. Educators call this traditional method, “instructor-centered teaching.” In contrast, “learner-centered teaching” occurs when instructors focus on student learning. (source)

Strategy of Learner Centered Approach

English Skill Level: All

Grade Level: All

Also Called: Learner-Centered Curriculum

  • An analysis is done to assess students’ needs. Such an assessment may ask students what their goals are and what they are capable of doing now. A need analysis may also survey future professors or employers to see what they perceive to be the needs of future students or employees.
  • Curriculum, lessons, and activities are designed to help students reach the goals that they are targeting.
  • Curriculum, lessons, and activities may change throughout the length of the course as students’ strengths, weaknesses, and goals are reevaluated.
  • At the end of the course, students may evaluate themselves or each other (or both). Ultimately the success of a learner-centered approach is based on whether students have the skills necessary to meet their target goals.

Strengths of Learner Centered Approach

  • Instruction is based on student interests, needs, and background.
  • Curriculum changes as needs change.

Weaknesses of Learner Centered Approach

  • The ongoing assessment of student achievement needed to maximize effectiveness of this approach may frustrate teachers.