Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Plenary talk by Dr Terry Lamb - report

Perspectives of 21st century English language learners

How is the 21st century English language learner different from the one of the past? And how can the teacher cater for this in the classroom? These questions were asked by Dr. Terry Lamb in his plenary talk during the TESOL MTh 21st Annual International Convention.

In times where ‘Globalization’ is an everyday word and classrooms are more diverse than ever, what skills and attributes are needed for today’s learner? A few which were mentioned were collaboration across networks, agility and adaptability, critical thinking resilience and empathy.  In short, learning needs have become so diverse that learner autonomy has become more essential than ever. As a result, it is important for learners to take control of their own learning, and in order to do this to know what their individual strengths are. The teacher’s role is then to help them make decisions so as to continue life-long learning.

As Dr. Lamb explained, the learner becomes a collaborator in his own learning, setting his own goals and taking some control over assessment. However, this does not mean that learners are prepared to take this responsibility or are even aware of how to do this, especially where traditional learning environments have prevailed. The teacher needs to become a guide by sharing what was previously considered their sole responsibility as mentor or tutor. By gradually and systematically involving the learner in the process of learning -how to plan, evaluate and monitor themselves - by explaining the reasons for a task as well as the learning outcomes of a specific task, and by doing so, being able to create their own tasks, the teacher will be able to lead the learner to take control over their own learning and hence, reaching the goal of becoming autonomous language learners.

By Anastasia Loukeri

Dr Terry Lamb - Plenary Talk

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