Well-Structured Classes Give You Wings

I have already mentioned in previous articles the importance of having a 3P structure for our lesson plan, but I have never dove into this issue because otherwise we would turn a simple 500-word article into a book. However, it is possible to detail this structuring through Lecercle’s speaker/listener system and how it promotes autonomy of our students – because autonomy.

Lecercle’s communication structure (1999) establishes that a speaker utilizes cognition to organize utterances and then produce them. All this linguistic information – phonetic combination, syntactic structure, lexical choices, intention, etc – reach the listener who has the role of decoding what is being spoken, understand the information and formulate his own reply once is his turn to talk. This system turns listening into an active skill and we can do the same with our students in the classroom (that’s why I insist in saying that teacher have to develop their lesson plan and not only lean on textbooks). Making our students listen and speak gives them an opportunity to use their higher functions (cognition) to make out what is being said to them and also it allows them to produce and such production is the main step to have them work freely.

The deal here to make our students have more and more autonomy, which here is the use of English to perform tasks, is to develop our lesson plan very well and carefully. Brazil is still at the baby-step phase with regard to the implementation of student-centered culture, but we English teachers can start promoting it and dividing our classes in sections Presentation, Practice, Performance makes the assignment of this freedom to do their activities more natural and these activities are going to be developed to meet the needs of our students. In order to shorten this article and not make you doze off or lose interest and turn on the TV – I myself do doze off when texts are too long – I’m going to put the highlight on the last P, Performance. This is the phase that we teachers worry about having our students work freely. Debates, role plays, games are some of the tasks that promote students’ autonomy for, in a drilling phase, we can challenge our students with tasks which communication in the target language is essential for the activity to be successful. Our role then is to pay close attention at our students’ performances (remember that the grouping and pairing them up facilitates) without any sort of interference. After all, we seek student autonomy and having them talk, listen, understand and solve problems is our goal. If we put our hands in it, we break the whole purpose of the activity.

We sure talked about only a chunk of our lesson plan and many other things can be done in the other P-sections of our classes. However, what matters is that we create activities that are relevant and promote autonomy by speaking the target language (English in this case). This will only happen if we prepare our classes, if we teachers leave the status quo and try to commit to developing our lesson plans. The activities will certainly be positive more often for nobody knows students better than the teachers.

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