The Project

image085Language learning always happens in spaces – in classrooms, in homes, in virtual worlds, in libraries, in hallways, and in cafes. Spaces shape and influence how we think, what connections we make, how we feel and relate to others. They may be physical or virtual, and increasingly they are blended and hybrid learning spaces.

This project is about bringing language classroom and learning space design into the 21st century. It is time to critically think about how our spaces need to adapt to serve educators in a constantly changing environment.

The general design and physical layout of Western classrooms has not changed very much since the 19th century (Koutamanis & Majewski-Steijns, 2012). There have been only a few modest changes, such as the introduction of new technical devices (e.g. projectors and screens) or the replacement of bench-table combinations with individual chairs and tables. Formal teaching and learning environments have not developed at the same pace as pedagogies, teaching methodologies and approaches, learning styles, social conventions and political expectations, as well as technologies have.

The field of language teaching and learning in particular has seen dramatic changes over the last decades, with an array of major shifts in second language teaching methodologies and approaches. While the earliest traditional form, the Grammar and Translation Method, worked well in a traditional, formal classroom, more recent forms, such as the Communicative Approach, or mixed approaches of the Post-Methodology Era, are no longer served well by the confines of the classroom. Such “spaces of enclosure” (Giroux, 1996) do not serve small-group or pair work, a staple of modern language teaching, nor do they serve project-based, task-based, computer-assisted, hybrid, blended, community-based or other recent approaches. Physical learning spaces, such as classrooms, determine the way students learn and interact and the way instructors teach, and force certain patterns and may actually impede learning (Woolner, 2010).

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This web site is only a start. It is not meant to be comprehensive, but rather as a starting point for your design or redesign projects. Good space design is situated; it is specific to the place, location, history, culture, and character of each individual learning environment.

Please head on over to the resources section for more concrete tips. And if you are looking for a consultant, click here.