Are teachers prepared to give up control of the learning process?

I had a very interesting comment to my last post.

I have posted the whole comment below. The gist is that teachers are keen to have the learners in charge of learning, and the Krashen has been proven “off the mark.”

I must say I do not  agree with the commenter. There are no doubt teachers who are that way, but in my exchanges with teachers, face to face or on the Internet, I find the opposite to be the norm. “The classroom is the only place to learn” (local college, and local immigrant language teacher), “all government sponsored immigrant language learning must conform to Canadian Benchmarks system and be based on Task Based Language Learning” (Canadian government language coordinator) and many more examples. 

On my American Language and Literacy teachers’ Listserv I see teachers concerning themselves with what content they should let their students read or listen to, and what their students should be allowed to do, and to teach  students “to think critically”, “reading strategies” “higher level thinking” and more. It see less evidence of wanting to give the learner more freedom to explore. 

Krashen talks about the affective connection between learners and the content they are learning from. He talks about affective filters to learning, about reducing anxiety and providing meaningful content. All of this strikes me as more valuable than theories about “the Lexical Approach, Communicative methodology, countless insights from the study of corpus data).

Here is the original comment.

“Unfortunately most of what I have seen from these people is dominated by a desire to keep the control of the learning process in the hands of the teacher.”

My friend, you have been reading the wrong stuff! In recent years, concepts such as learner-centredness, motivation, identity and learner autonomy have been at the heart of the TESOL field. If you go to any major conference, you will find thousands of teachers and academics, who commit both their professional lives and spare time to work together and improve their ability to teach/help learners learn (why is everyone so cynical about these people??).

“I have to admit that I have been influenced by Krashen and found a lot of wisdom there”

Actually, Krashen had very little time for the issues you care strongly about, like affectivity and motivation. He conceptualized learners as essentially passive processors of input. Since Krashen’s published his theories, which are almost 30 years old now, linguists have spent a tremendous amount of time investigating them. The balance of evidence from these studies suggests that he was off the mark. I could go more into this, but I don’t want to repeat previous posts. Anyway, there are more useful theories around, that I’m sure you would find very useful, and allow you to improve your website (the Lexical Approach, Communicative methodology, countless insights from the study of corpus data).

Every teacher I know would be delighted to know that their students used lingQ to supplement their learning. Can it replace classroom learning? Certainly not yet. In the future, I think so. That is, if these sites become more sophisticated, and, dare I say it, informed by educational expertise (I didn’t say expert!)”

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