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Approaches To Learner Autonomy In Language Learning


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Approaches To Learner Autonomy In Language Learning

  1. 1. Approaches to Learner Autonomy in Language Learning Erin Lowry Senior English Language Fellow Centro Colombo Americano Armenia November 25, 2008
  2. 2. <ul><li>You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself. </li></ul><ul><li>Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) </li></ul>
  3. 3. Learner Autonomy Defined <ul><li>Ability to take charge of one’s own learning </li></ul><ul><li>Main idea behind learner autonomy is that students should take responsibility for their own learning, rather than be dependent on the teacher (Holec 1981) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The autonomous learner is one that constructs knowledge from direct experience, rather than one who responds to someone’s instruction” (Benson 2001)      </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Characteristics of Autonomy <ul><li>Concept based in natural tendency for learners to take control over their learning. Autonomy may be displayed in different ways and to different degrees depending on each learner and learning situation. </li></ul><ul><li>Learners who lack autonomy are capable of developing it given appropriate conditions and preparation. </li></ul><ul><li>Autonomous learning is more effective than non-autonomous learning. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Versions of Autonomy <ul><li>TECHNICAL </li></ul><ul><li>PSYCHOLOGICAL </li></ul><ul><li>POLITICAL </li></ul><ul><li>SOCIAL </li></ul>The act of learning a language outside the framework of an educational institution and without the intervention of a teacher The capacity which allows learners to take more responsibility for their own learning The conditions that allow learners to control the process and content of learning as well as the institutional context within which learning takes place The capacity to interact and collaborate with others Benson & Voller (1997)
  6. 6. Characteristics of Autonomous Language Learners <ul><li>Seven main attributes (see Omaggio, 1978, cited in Wenden, 1998: 41-42): </li></ul><ul><ul><li>have insights into their learning styles and strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>take an active approach to the learning task at hand </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are willing to take risks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are good guessers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>attend to form as well as to content, that is, place importance on accuracy as well as appropriacy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>develop the target language into a separate reference system and are willing to revise and reject hypotheses and rules that do not apply </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>have a tolerant and outgoing approach to the target language </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. What Needs to Happen First <ul><li>Teacher becomes less of an instructor and more of a facilitator </li></ul><ul><li>Students discouraged from relying on the teacher as the main source of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Students’ capacity to learn for themselves is encouraged </li></ul><ul><li>Students encouraged to make decisions about what they learn </li></ul><ul><li>Students’ awareness of their own learning styles is encouraged </li></ul><ul><li>Students encouraged to develop their own learning strategies </li></ul>
  8. 8. Oxford’s Model of Learner Autonomy <ul><li>Technical perspective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on physical situation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Psychological perspective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on characteristics of learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sociocultural perspective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on mediated learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Political-critical perspective </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on ideologies , access, power structure </li></ul></ul>Oxford (2003, pp. 76, 80)
  9. 9. Some Background <ul><li>Autonomy is generally seen as a characteristic of adults </li></ul><ul><li>Independent learning doesn’t mean solitude </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Autonomous learners are also part of communities of practice </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Autonomy is not necessarily a characteristic that is seen as important in learning in all cultures </li></ul>
  10. 10. Designing Courses that Promote Autonomy <ul><li>Take into consideration </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner goals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The language learning process </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tasks and design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflection on learning </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Our Goals as Teachers <ul><li>Train learners to function better while studying </li></ul><ul><li>Ensure learners continue to acquire the second language after formal studies end (Field 2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Not use set methodologies </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Our job is to create learning opportunities, not to impose a method. There’s no one way to learn a language (Benson 2001) </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. 5 Ways of Supporting Autonomy <ul><li>Resource-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent use of learning materials </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Technology-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent interaction with educational technologies </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Classroom-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner control over the planning and evaluation of classroom learning (power to make decisions) </li></ul></ul>Benson (2001)
  14. 14. 5 Ways of Supporting Autonomy Con’t <ul><li>Curriculum-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner control over curriculum as a whole </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Teacher-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Emphasizes role of the teacher and teacher education in practice of fostering autonomy among learners </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learner-based </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Development of autonomous learning skills </li></ul></ul>Benson (2001)
  15. 15. Resource-Based <ul><li>Self-access areas </li></ul><ul><li>Use of authentic texts </li></ul><ul><li>Self-instruction and distance learning </li></ul>
  16. 16. Self-Access Areas <ul><li>Technology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comptuers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>CDs & DVDs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Learner literature </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dictionaries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Grammar reference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Workbooks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Books </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Characteristics of Good Self-Access <ul><li>Materials classified by learners’ language level </li></ul><ul><li>Suggestions on what to do next (pathways) </li></ul><ul><li>Training for learners on how to use the resources and computers </li></ul><ul><li>Making the area appropriate for learners </li></ul><ul><li>How to keep interest going </li></ul>Harmer (2007)
  18. 18. Levels of Autonomous Learning (Nunan, 1997) Level Learner action Content Process 1 Awareness Learners are made aware of pedagogical goals and content of the materials they are using Learners identify strategy implications of pedagogical tasks and identify their own preferred styles/strategies 2 Involvement Learners are involved in selecting their own goals from a range of alternatives Learners make choices among a range of options 3 Intervention Learners are involved in modifying and adapting the goals and content of the learning program Learners modify and adapt tasks 4 Creation Learners create their own goals and objectives Learners create their own learning tasks 5 Transcendence Learners go beyond the classroom and make links between the content of classroom learning and the world beyond the classroom Learners become teachers and researchers
  19. 19. Technology-Based <ul><li>Internet </li></ul><ul><li>Software </li></ul><ul><li>Computer-mediated communication </li></ul>
  20. 20. Classroom-based <ul><li>Learners are asked to set their own goals and plan activities within the classroom </li></ul><ul><li>Self-assessment </li></ul>
  21. 21. Learner-based <ul><li>Learner development activities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Language learning strategies & techniques (p.149) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Good language learner” </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. Curriculum-based <ul><li>Process syllabus </li></ul><ul><li>Inquiry-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>Project-based learning </li></ul><ul><li>Task-based learning </li></ul>
  23. 23. Teacher-based <ul><li>Teacher roles </li></ul><ul><li>Teacher autonomy </li></ul>
  24. 24. Our Roles as Teachers <ul><li>Voller (1997) identifies three roles for teachers working on an autonomous pedagogy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>the teacher as a facilitator </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the teacher as a counsellor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>the teacher as a resource </li></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Strategy Training <ul><li>Learning strategies = the techniques you use to learn something </li></ul><ul><li>2 categories </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Metacognitive strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cognitive strategies </li></ul></ul>
  27. 27. Metacognitive Strategies <ul><li>Thinking about your process of learning </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Planning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Monitoring </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problem-solving </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evaluating </li></ul></ul>
  28. 28. Cognitive Strategies <ul><li>Learners actually do something with the language in order to learn it, such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Writing vocabulary lists </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Doing grammar exercises </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Listening to songs </li></ul></ul>
  29. 29. Learning Journals <ul><li>Purpose </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher-student channel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reactions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Responses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Formats </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Written, Online, Tapes, CDs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How often </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Public or private </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Learning Contracts <ul><li>What am I going to learn? ( Objectives ) </li></ul><ul><li>How am I going to learn it? ( Resources and Strategies ) </li></ul><ul><li>How am I going to know that I have learned it? ( My evidence ) </li></ul><ul><li>How am I going to prove that I have learned it? ( Verification by teachers and peers ) </li></ul>Schwarzer, Kahn & Smart (2000)
  31. 31. Personal Plans <ul><li>To use in the weeks after a lesson finishes </li></ul><ul><li>Aim: to improve my vocabulary </li></ul><ul><li>Tasks: </li></ul><ul><li>Read at least 3 magazine articles from Newsweek every week. For each article note down 3 words that I want to know the meaning of. Look up the words. Find the words again in next week’s articles and check to see that they mean the same thing in the new article. </li></ul><ul><li>Do 1 unit from English Vocabuary in Use every week and check. </li></ul>Harmer (2007:408)
  32. 32. Learning Logs <ul><li>Individual student’s summary of what has been learned over a given period of time </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beginner levels </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Teacher can help students summarize </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Young learners </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Circle appropriate drawings or adjectives </li></ul></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Learning Logs <ul><li>Consider asking one’s self questions such as: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Did it go well? Why? What did you learn? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Did it go badly? Why? What did you learn? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How can you improve for next time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Contains student’s record of their experiences, thoughts, feelings and reflections. </li></ul>
  34. 34. CALL / Technology <ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Software </li></ul><ul><li>Computer-mediated communication (CMC) </li></ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 tools </li></ul><ul><li>Wequests </li></ul>
  35. 35. Blogs
  36. 36. Websites
  37. 37. Webquests <ul><li>Presents student groups with a challenging task, scenario, or problem to solve using the Internet and its available resources </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Current events, controversial social and environmental topics work well </li></ul></ul>
  38. 38. Reflection <ul><li>Incorporate reflective lessons into your teaching </li></ul><ul><li>Have students consider: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Their motivation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Changes in attitudes and ideas </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which skills they need for different kinds of assignments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What is blocking their learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Any gaps in their knowledge or skills </li></ul></ul>
  39. 39. Questions? <ul><li>Companion website for workshop </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Email Erin </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>
  40. 40. Selected Resources <ul><li>Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning . Harlow: Pearson Education. </li></ul><ul><li>Benson, P. & Voller, P. (Eds.). (1997). Autonomy and independence in language learning . London: Longman. </li></ul><ul><li>Healey, D. (2007). Theory and research: autonomy and language learning. In J. Egbert & E. Hanson-Smith (Eds.). CALL environments: research, practice, and critical issues (2nd Ed.). Alexandria, VA: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy in foreign language learning . Oxford: Pergamon. (First published 1979, Strasbourg: Council of Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>Other resources cited on </li></ul>