At the Language room, students choose from a range of activities what they want to work on, with whom and when. This possibility of choosing, even though from a closed set of activities, allows students to be more active, engaged and responsible for their own learning. It is a small step towards autonomy and student-centered learning.
Yet some students are baffled by this freedom of choice, in particular the older ones at batxillerat, who have never been experienced this methodology before… Some say: “you are the teacher, tell us what is best for us.” They have always been told what to do and expected to carry it out… To put this belief of “teacher orders-students do”partly into question, is seen by some students, as a give-up on teachers’ duty.
In reality, it is much more stressful for teachers, as it is an individual adaptation of sometimes up to 25-30 students, quiding, counseling, controlling everyone’s work and keep a checklist of the individual tasks.
Adding to that, it is a bit more demanding on the students, as they have to think of the tasks available, select the material, write on their diary the tasks done with some evaluation etc. It is naturally far easier to sit back on a chair, wait for the teacher performance, passively listen or mechanically, take some automatic notes and switch off every now and then with a pretended look of interest… These same students often argue that they waste their time in this class, without having someone’s head over all the time.Given the choice, they prefer traditional teacher-fronted class tuition.
However, most students thrive at the opportunity of freedom of choice. They browse through magazines and books till they find one they feel like diving into or choose from the range of grammatical exercises, films, songs, listening activities to do.
The space learning design intends to foster choice by setting up different spaces for different activities. Students can work on their own or collaborate with others, which most do. Silence comes naturally, as attention is focused on different activities. Collaboration arises in a spontanous manner and students are willing to help each other, either with the content, the procedure or the technology involved.
Special attention has been paid to light and colour that provides comfort and informality for a positive learning atmosphere. See for yourself and comment!