I will try to answer the above question using my handy A-Z of ELT by Scott Thornbury!

The facilitator

The general idea is that the teacher is not directly responsible for learning, the teacher’s role is to aid learning by creating the right conditions. Thornbury states that the idea of the teacher as facilitator comes from humanist educational theory and critical pedagogy. Both of which I need to look into more. One consequence of acting as facilitator is that of increased learner agency, whereby learners take a more active role in the learning process rather than acting as passive receivers. One example of this in practice given in the A-Z of ELT is community language learning. (Thornbury, S. an A-Z of ELT, Macmillan, 2006).

Learner agency

From my experience, when there is more learner agency, students are more engaged and learning is more personalised. In a way, the tutorial I had on Adobe Connect last Friday was an example of facilitation and increased learner agency. The initial material for discussion was provided by the teacher before the session on Moodle, taking a flipped classroom approach. The teacher then used comments from the discussion forum to structure the tutorial. As we discussed our views, the students and the teacher had the opportunity to notice gaps in our understanding or use of terminology. The teacher then helped us by eliciting notions, asking questions and uploading a pdf file for extra support. In my opinion, this is far more engaging than simply being told the facts in a passive, one-way ‘traditional’ lecture format.


(Thornbury, Scott. an A-Z of ELT, Macmillan Publishers Limited, 2006)