Breaking with tradition: Reversing teacher-student roles

Steven Happel

What is the primary role of a teacher in an ESL classroom? How involved are the students? How much should they be involved?

Teachers, in a traditional Asian classroom, are seen primarily as the providers of knowledge whereas the students take on a secondary, more passive role as receivers. This session will look at these traditional roles and examine their limits and deficiencies with regards to learning in an ESL environment. We will take a look at the different ways a class can be more student centered, from classroom management to activities to lesson planning. We will look for ways more responsibility and autonomy can be given to the student so as to remove their dependence on the teacher and see just how far the traditional paradigm can be reversed.

It will additionally be argued that this role reversal is essential in not just making a more active learning environment, but in creating a successful ESL lesson.