The problematic of learner-centered approach in the school context

The problematic of learner-centered approach in the school context
English translation (June 2024) of "La problématique de la centration sur l'apprenant en contexte scolaire", Études de Linguistique Appliquée no. 100, oct.-déc. 1995, pp. 129-149. With an afterword from June 2024.
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Version de juin 2024, révisée à l'occasion de la publication de la traduction anglaise (1995a-en).


Abstract (1995)


The aim of this article is to analyze the practical problems posed by the implementation of “learner-centered approach” in school didactics. After showing its inadequacies, we propose to replace it with the idea of “multi-centered approach” (on the learner, the adolescent, the learner, communication, content, language, the teacher, materials, methodology, the group, the institution), whose simultaneous management (through different selections, combinations and modulations) can only be conceived within the framework of complex didactics.


Afterword from June 2024


This short afterword is written almost thirty years after the publication of this article, on the occasion of its publication online in its original French version and English translation on the ResarchGate website. The various criticisms made of the notion of “learner-centered approach” and of the implementation of needs analysis in the communicative approach still seem to me to be valid, as do the tools used for these criticisms, namely ideology, epistemology and deontology, which constitute the three positions of the “didactological” perspective in complex didactics of languages-cultures (the other two being the methodological and didactic perspectives). I also consider that these tools remain valid for the analysis of the current situation in our discipline, and that they must also be applied to the new Social Action-Oriented Approach (SAOA), in the development of which we must avoid the same drifts to which the development of the communicative approach gave rise. Some didacticians, in particular, propose building action scenarios on the basis of CEFR competence descriptors, which is a way of maintaining needs analysis as it was conceived in the communicative approach. As a result, the teacher-centeredness is just as open to criticism as the summative hetero-assessment-centeredness. Both this prior analysis of language needs without learner participation, and the inclusion of this type of assessment right from the design of project scenarios, are totally incompatible with the natural pedagogical model of the SAOA, particularly in school didactics, namely project pedagogy and its educational goals.

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