Decentralised Teaching and Learning

“Not all who wander are lost”. J R R Tolkien


camel pic

I’m Paul Walsh, originally from the UK, and I’ve taught English in Poland, the Balkans, Saudi Arabia. I’m currently working in Berlin, Germany.

After completing my TESOL diploma in 2011 I caught the blogging bug and with two other Diploma grads started a blog for TESOL dip candidates here.

Why did you decide to do this blog? I got into a rut working here in Germany, not really developing in any particular direction.

This blog is an attempt to cultivate some originality and overcome some inertia.

Why now?

I started teaching a Business English class in a Berlin startup where the learners were very receptive to new ideas, and I had compete control over the syllabus and materials.

And so a new blog was born…

What brought you to Decentralisation?

While completing my Master’s I became interested in themes such as globalisation, influence of the EU and Decentralisation. This led me me to create the concept of Decentralisation in ELT, as I believe that the teaching of languages is over-centralised.

What teaching approaches have influenced you?

I have been especially influenced by Task-based learning, the Lexical Approach, Dogme/ Teaching Unplugged and the ongoing influence of the somewhat older Learner Autonomy movement.

Describe Decentralised Teaching in one sentence…

I think the central tenet of Decentralised Teaching would be

devolving power down to the learner in order to optimise learning‘.


Looking forward to your comments!



2 comments on “About

  1. Kinga Latarska
    October 1, 2014

    To my mind, Decentralised Teaching should allow people to have their say and maintain freedom of attitudes to different matters, meaning that the diversity of approaches should be preserved. Greetings from Poland, Paul.


    • paulwalsh
      October 1, 2014

      Hi Kinga,

      Thanks for commenting! I agree with you – everyone should be allowed to have their say. But I find that there’s often a power imbalance between teachers and learners. What the teacher says is the way it is! (Or what the institution says…)

      As for diversity of approaches, well I think a lot of diversity is drowned out by the tidal wave of coursebooks and materials to be honest. Which only seems to be increasing.

      I suppose one of the most difficult issues is dealing with learner expectations, and how to adapt and work these expectations effectively. Which is something I try to address.

      But you are right in that I don’t want ‘Decentralised Teaching’ to become prescriptive – that would simple empty the concept of any substance.


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