Bridging the gap between the classroom and the autonomous learner

Sanja Bozinovic's picture

Sandy Millin works at International House Newcastle where they have implemented Personal Study Programme (PSP) as an alternative to more traditional Self Access Centre and she gave a talk about what their students get out of it.

Sandy's school is a school where foreign students come to learn English. They take different courses which may include one or two PSP hours a day.
The PSP room includes desks, computers with the Internet access and a few good quality webpages for self-study, a drop-down screen, a collection of films and readers. There are also teachers who talk to students and help with the work. 

Students keep a diary – they record what they need or want to learn for every day, what they do and which resources they use. The teacher adds some notes every day. So, the diary can be used as a record of progress, a report to parents, and also helps the student to become more independent. 

All students like PSP, but there are challenges in its implementation: it is better suited for higher levels,  sometimes what students need is different from what they want to learn, it is difficult to have task variation, IT literacy and learning styles of students should be considered. 

Sandy explained how they are trying to improve PSP: giving it more structure with weekly planners, short learner training sessions, the communication between class teacher and PSP teacher, etc. 

It was a very informative and well prepared talk and the audience of more than 100 people had a lot of questions.