Student and Teacher Meet in the 21st Century School


  • Aigi Piirimees
  • Maia Boltovsky




autonomous learner, student-centred learning, subject integration, language learning, ENDC


More and more schools and universities are adopting the principles of UDL (Universal Design for Learning), which involve providing multiple means of representation (the “what” of learning), providing multiple means of action and expression (the “how” of learning), and providing multiple means of engagement (the “why” of learning). This has led to a need for change in the study process in the ENDC. Students should be given more autonomy and new ways of integrating different subjects should be found. This article gives an overview of the changes made in foreign language instruction in the ENDC. It is based on the experience of teaching English to cadets and Master students and aims at setting a solid foundation for efficient language learning to help officers cope in everyday situations in their future career. The study focuses on the 2015–2016 academic year when the number of independent study hours was increased. This change resulted in the need to design the study process in a manner that might enable students to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills through fewer contact hours and more independent work, which meant developing student responsibility and autonomy. Helping foreign language learners to become autonomous is one of the most fundamental duties of foreign language teachers. There are two general arguments in favour of trying to make learners autonomous. Firstly, if they are reflectively engaged with their learning, it is likely to be more efficient and effective. Secondly, if learners are more proactively committed to their learning, they do not have problems with motivation and become life-long learners as well. The study, which was mainly based on observation and self-reflection, found that although students are ready to take responsibility for their own learning and are moving towards greater autonomy, they still need guidance from their teachers. This also requires a change in the teacher’s mindset. Teachers should relinquish their dominant role and trust students more, focusing rather on creating student-centred learning environments that have been shown to be effective in higher education. Whether the teachers are ready for the change or not requires further study. However, based on their own experience, the authors encourage teachers to introduce changes in their teaching practices which would support active learning and guide students towards becoming self-directed learners.


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