Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Teacher's Role in Students-Centered English Intensive Reading Class in China

Academic journal article Canadian Social Science

Teacher's Role in Students-Centered English Intensive Reading Class in China

Article excerpt


Inspired by the theory of Constructivism, the notions of learner diversity and learner choice get a lot of awareness and recognition of many educators, therefore more and more emphasis has been placed on the position of students in the classroom. As a consequence, the traditional teacher-centered foreign language teaching pattern has been supplanted by a new students-centered pattern by which students are the main body of the class and the owner of their learning. However, teachers' role in students-centered foreign language teaching class should not be neglected. In intensive reading class, which is a course to cultivate the students' comprehensive abilities of language, the roles of the teacher, instead of as a controller and a dominant, should be played fully as a manager and an organizer of the language teaching class, a designer of the teaching process, a source of teaching material, an investigator and a counselor of students' learning and a promoter of deepening and confirming the accepted knowledge.

Key words: Teacher's role; Students-centered; Foreign language teaching; Intensive reading


Constructivism is a psychological theory which argues that the knowledge of the human being is constructed, that humans generate knowledge and meaning on the basis of previous experiences. This theory was developed by Jean Piaget in 1960s as a branch of cognitive psychology. Constructivists think that learners should get their knowledge not through what has been taught by teachers, but through their own active learning, exploring, discovering and constructing. Effective learning happens when they take stock of what they already know and then move beyond it (Glaserfeld, 1989). Although this theory is not a particular pedagogy, it is closely associated with the pedagogical approaches. Therefore it has been widely accepted in educational circle. The theory pays emphasis on the students' position in the class, which stresses that students should be the center of the teaching-learning process.

In recent years, this theory has a great impact on foreign language teaching, which has resulted in a shift of teaching pattern from teacher-centered class to a studentscentered class, hence a shift of a teacher's role from a ruler and a dominator to an advisor and a facilitator.


For decades, foreign language teaching in China has been greatly influenced by Grammar- Translation Approach and Audio-Lingual Approach. In Grammar- Translation Approach, much effort is paid to the teacher's teaching process of training of the students' ability of reading and writing while their ability of listening and speaking has been neglected. Whereas in Audio-Lingual Approach, although listening and speaking are much emphasized, it is still a method with which teachers occupy most of the class time.

In traditional language teaching pattern, most class time is spent with the teacher lecturing and the students watching and listening. The students work individually on assignments, and cooperation is discouraged, even not allowed. Teachers are dominant in the process of teaching. According to Richards and Rodgers (1986), the teacher acts as "the pattern of language, the lesson planner, the controller of learner practice and the assessor of learner's performance". Teachers plan the course, prepare the materials, decide what and how learners ought to learn, organize the teaching process and assess the students' knowledge and performance. In this situation, the teachers are definitely the center of teaching. They pass the knowledge which they get directly from books on to the students, playing a role of an authority and knowledgegiver. They do not enable the students to explore more and more knowledge by themselves, but induce cramming, paying little attention to the feelings and reactions of the students.

While in such a traditional classroom, the students are recipient of knowledge. …

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