Dimitrios Thanasoulas: "The Classroom: Forum or Arena?"

368





The teacher as a counselor and a language resource should see it as her goal to provide enough remedial work, in order to eradicate students' errors, and encourage learners to develop their own learning strategies and techniques, so as to discover the answers to their own questions.


2.2.1.3. Teacher as a model and independent language user

In order to become a successful communicator and model for learners, the teacher should promote a wide range of behaviours and psychological and social relationships such as solidarity and politeness.

Often learners have difficulties in adopting these behaviours because of the psychological and social distance that there exists between learners and materials. As a result, learners have a tendency to adopt the teacher's language behaviours to indicate attitude and role relationships, rather than those presented in materials. This is understandable, of course, since the teacher is a live model, a real human being to whom they can more easily relate (Papaefthymiou-Lytra, 1993: 101).

In short, the teacher should help learners to negotiate meaning in the target language through his own active participation in it, and act as a mediator between the linguistic and extra-linguistic context of foreign language learning, as these are reflected in the textbooks and re-alia (e.g., audio-visual aids, etc.) or literature, respectively.


2.2.1.4. Conclusion

Beyond the shadow of a doubt, teachers play an essential role in the foreign language classroom. Not only are they directors and managers of the classroom environment but they also function as counselors and language resources facilitating the teaching-learning process. In addition, teachers can become models and independent language users in order to overcome "the inherent shortcomings of the foreign language classroom environment" (ibid., p. 104).


2.2.2. The role of the learner

What roles do learners play in the design of educational programs and systems, and how much leeway are they left with in contributing to the learning process? In the last two decades or so, there has been a shift from Cognitive and Transformational-Generative Grammar Approaches to a Communicative view of learning. Learners, who were formerly viewed as stimulus-response mechanisms whose learning was the product of practice,■reminding one of the well-known dictum, Repetitio est mater studiorum■are nowadays regarded as individuals who should have a say in the educational process.

"The role of the learner as negotiator■between the self, the learning process, and the object of learning■emerges from and interacts with the role of joint negotiator within the group and within the classroom procedures and activities which the group undertakes. The implication for the learner is that he should contribute as much as he gains, and thereby learn in an interdependent way" (Breen and Candlin, 1980: 110, cited in Richards, 1994: 22-23).








Page - 1     Page + 1


AS/SA Nº 6/7, Article 3 : Page 6 / 10

© 1999, AS/SA

E-mail to the editors
Pour écrire à la rédaction

1999.05.31