What are learning centers?

Learning centers are student centered, engaging activities which are also self‐checking and self‐selecting.


The activities are used to focus on a set of skills and deepen the students’ knowledge and abilities in that area. Students can work alone, in pairs, or in small groups.


Different centers are set up around the classroom and students move from one center to another on their own time and by their own choosing in the allotted class time.


Why should I use learning centers in an ESL classroom?


Learning centers are student focused. Since all ESL classrooms are multi‐level in some way,

using learning centers allows slower students to spend more time practicing lessons from class while more advanced students deepen their understanding and ability to use the target skills or language.


Students are not rushed nor bored. Learning centers put the control into the

student’s hands. Adults appreciate being able to focus their learning on what is most important in their lives.


Because students are involved in different games and activities at the same time,

there is no down time. Students are constantly practicing and learning, which also alleviates

chatter and use of native languages.


Learning centers are extremely useful in classes that have rolling admission. New students entering the class can use the learning center time to catch up with what the class had finished before they began attending.


If I use them, do I have to call them learning centers?


Of course not! Sometimes the term “learning centers” can be confusing for ESL students,

especially low level students, who may not completely grasp the meaning of the words.


Try using words your students will understand and be excited about. Some possible expressions are: learning groups, practice groups, practice activities, learning games, practice time, group time, learning stations, activity stations, etc.



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