Learner Autonomy and the classroom layout

This is the second installment of the Learner Autonomy material which featured at SGI’s CPD Club and some bits also at the TESOL France Colloquium. The first part is on authenticteaching.

Have you ever involved learners in choosing the classroom layout?

Do it, you won’t regret it!

Communicative competences are important (of course!). But there’s more, for learning to be holistic we also need:

Environmental competence

– a person’s ability to be aware of surrounding environment and its impact on him*;

– his ability to use or change his settings to help him achieve his goals without inappropriately destroying the setting or reducing his sense of effectiveness or that of the people around him.

(Steele, 1973)

Especially because:

“Buildings may outlast the theories of education on which their design was based, and create problems for later users who have different ideas” (Meighan and Harber, 2007). [This seems to happen to me quite a lot :-)]

which do you prefer? and which do your students prefer?


Change, adapt, move stuff around – help your learners find the best classroom layout for their learning.

And yes, go out more too!






 *in ’73 him also meant her 😉
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3 Responses to Learner Autonomy and the classroom layout

  1. Pingback: Learner Autonomy (reloaded) « Authentic Teaching

  2. Alex Ding says:

    Hi Willy,
    Interesting stuff! Years ago, Phil Benson wrote an interesting paper on the ‘semiotics of self-access in the digital age’ which is highly appropriate in regards to what you say. All the physical features of a self-access centre, or indeed a classroom, reveal the expectations about learning and relationships within a space. Whether it is a quiet space, noisy, facilitates group work, pair work… Whether chair are in rows, circles and so on… With a little imagination the layout, posters, signs, equipment all semiotic signs can be harnessed to orientated learning…

  3. Pingback: EFL Lesson Plan: Signs – Romance | Teacher Training Blog

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