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Becoming the Ultimate South African TEFL Teacher: Student-Centred Teaching

Written by Aidan Tyler-Scott

Once you have obtained your TEFL certificate, it is time to start teaching. You will learn all there is to know about teaching English to students after the course. The course focuses on planning lessons, creating activities, managing a class, and presenting a lesson.

As part of SLA (second language acquisition), many curriculums have moved away from the traditional approach, deductive approach, to teaching using the inductive approach. In simple terms, the deductive approach is teacher-centered learning whereas the inductive approach is student-centered learning.

We take a look at what the student-centered approach to teaching is and how it can help you become the ultimate TEFL teacher.

What is Student-Centered Teaching?

Student-centered teaching is creating a classroom and activities that focus on a student’s involvement and participation throughout the lesson. The planned activities encourage the student’s output and participation during speaking, writing, listening, and working with other students during the teaching period.

This teaching approach allows the student to guide their own learning process by actively engaging with you, other students, and the activities at hand. The student-centered approach promotes active involvement in the students’ learning process. This approach is known to increase students’ motivation during the class and overall participation.

Student-Centered Learning vs Teacher-Centered Learning

Teacher-centered learning is the traditional approach of teaching and learning that most of us experienced during our school career. A teacher-centered classroom focuses on the teacher, speaking, writing, and explaining the specific rule and examples while the students passively listen, copy down the rules, and silently complete a task after the teacher presents. This deductive approach is direct and efficient but is dull and boring, specifically for young learners. In addition, rule-driven explanations, “parrot-learning”, are also less memorable for students. Student-centered learning encourages independent learning by structuring the lesson to include activities where the students should participate. A student-centered classroom focuses on doing activities where the students can discover the rules for themselves. This promotes engagement and increases a students’ self-esteem and autonomy.

Student-Centered Teaching Methods

Using the inductive teaching method during your teaching involves presenting a lesson plan that is focused on a specific theme. During the lesson, you guide the students with questions to encourage each student to critically think and evaluate the text, and develop their own opinions through evidence in the text.

The active learning method engages the students to actively participate during the lesson by solving problems, engaging in discussions, and role playing (perfect time to use props for young learners). This method is ideal to encourage a student’s output to practice their speaking and writing skills.

The cooperative learning method is for a classroom of two or more students. This method involves teamwork and collaboration between students to help one another with critical thinking and problem-solving activities. This method encourages a team of students to discuss, collaborate, and solve the activity together. Cooperative learning encourages students to work well together and enables students to learn from their peers.

Incorporating Student-Centered Teaching into Your Lessons

Most TEFL curriculums focus on using the student-centered teaching approach for learners. A good golden rule to incorporate into your classroom is the 80:20 rule. This rule states that your student should speak for about 80% of the lesson and you should only talk for about 20% of the lesson. This rule encourages student participation which helps students stay motivated and engaged while learning English in your classroom.

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