I’m lately saying students must be the protagonists of classes. Also the teacher, of course. This latter one should teach his students to learn how to learn.
The students’ job is studying, learning and working. So they should be taught how to learn. Someone taught me how to be a teacher. They should be taught their profession.
Even more in the case of English as a foreign language: when exams and tests are around the corner the students will study harder… but they may not know what to study or how to do it.
They need learning strategies. We can in the lesson ask how high-achiever students learn, and maybe we teachers can suggest further learning strategies: organizing their work, planning it, summarizing, drawing conclusions, revising and reviewing, receiving feedback about their learning, drawing the main points about a grammar pattern, practicing the communicative competence by writing, reading for the gist, for the main points, understanding a word from the context, practicing the communicative competence of speaking in the classroom, scanning or skimming a text, communicating with other people…
We have to bear in mind, while teaching, that we have to make our students autonomous learners. They must become aware about their own learning, taking up the strategies that work and discarding the ones that don’t.
They must wish to learn, in a free way: they learn because they want to! / Photo from: British Council take an exam. Well the girl on the picture looks mature enough