Icelt Learner Autonomy First Session
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GOOD LANGUAGE LEARNERLEARNER AUTONOMY LEARNERS AS INDIVIDUALS ROUTES TO AUTONOMY
LEARNER AUTONOMYAs David Nunan suggests, not everything can be taught in class (Nunan 1988: 3), but even if it could a teacher will not always be around if and when students wish to use the language in real life (Cotterall 1995: 220)(Harmer, 2001: 335)
WHERE TO BEGIN?If a good language learner is that one who is:Self-aware Inquisitive
and tolerant Self-critical Realistic Willing to experiment Actively involved Organised
much are you as a teacher contributing to nurture and develop such characteristics?much do your students passively depend on you to make all the decisions concerning to their process of learning?
TO DO? CAN YOU LET GO?
TOWARDS A DEFINITION OF LEARNER AUTONOMY Pair
work. Ask each other and make notes:WHAT
your notes with another
couple. Write a single definition from all your ideas.
HOLECS DEFINITIONAutonomy is the ability to take charge of ones own learning . To have, and to hold, the responsibility for all the decisions concerning all aspects of this learning. i.e.: determining
the objectives; defining the contents and progressions; selecting methods and techniques to be used; monitoring the procedure of acquisition properly speaking (rhythm, time, place, etc.) evaluating what has been acquired.(Holec 1981: 3)
THE BERGEN DEFINITIONLearner autonomy is characterized by a readiness to take charge of ones own learning in the service of ones needs and purposes. This entails a capacity and willingness to act independently and in co-operation with others, as a socially responsible person.(Dam 1995: 1)
WHAT WE KNOW: 13 POINTS1. Autonomy is a construct of capacity.
2. Autonomy involves a willingness on the part of the learner to take responsibility for their own learning.3. The capacity and willingness of learners to take such responsibility are not necessarily innate. 4. Complete autonomy is an idealistic goal.
5. There are degrees of autonomy.6. Autonomy is not simply a matter of placing learners in situations where they have to be independent. 7. Developing autonomy requires conscious awareness of the learning process, i.e., conscious reflection and decision making.
8. Promoting autonomy is not simply a matter of teaching strategies.
10. Autonomy can take place both inside and outside the classroom. 11. Autonomy has a social as well as an individual dimension. 12. The promotion of learner autonomy has a political as well as psychological dimension. 13. Autonomy is interpreted differently by different cultures.
TASK 1Team work. Analyse carefully the activities handed out. Decide how much autonomy they actually encourage. You may form three categories of encouragement:A
lot Some Little or none
Compare with another team.
Suggested answers: (b),
(f), (g), (i), and (j) appear to be most conducive to the development of autonomy, and (a) and (d) the least conducive. Depending on the circumstances which are cited, arguments both for and against (c), (e) and (h) may be cited.
TAKING ACTION: ARE YOU PREPARED?
The first step towards learner autonomy has to do with getting to know yourself as a language learner. Without this metacognition there is no way of moving on, of making decisions, of evaluating progress, there is no autonomous learning.
TASK 2 Individual
sort of language learner are you?out by answering the questionnaire provided (Ellis and Sinclair, 1989: 6).
LEARNERS AS INDIVIDUALS Sheering (1989: 4) explains that influenced by humanistic psychology, educators have recently emphasized the fact that students are individuals with different needs, styles and interests, and that we as educators and fellow human beings should take account of these differences in the provision made for their learning.
LEARNERS: SIMILARITIES AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES
The effective teacher needs to know a great many things about his/her learners in order to provide learning experiences which will motivate, engage and encourage development.
TASK 2: LEARNERS
In the middle box below are a number of factors which affect learners and their learning.
you think of any more to add to the list? Which items do you consider your learners generally have in common? Which items do you think are probably different for each individual learner in any one class?
factors have most affected the way you teach your learners? How? have individual differences in your learners affected the way you teach them?what extent do you think individual differences can be accommodated in your classes? Why?
ROUTES TO AUTONOMY
Learner Training Reflection
helps students to think about their own strengths and weaknesses with a view to making a plan for future action. Students may also be given specific strategies for better learning.
Homework Keeping learning journals The self-access centre After the courseHarmer (2001: 336)
DESIGNING AN INSTRUMENT How
can you find out what your students want, need, use ? together people. with two more
Dam, L. (1995) Learner Autonomy. From Theory to Classroom Practice. Authentik. Dickinson, L. (1992) Learner Autonomy. Learner Training for Language Learning. Authentik. Ellis, G. and Sinclair, B. (1989) Learning to Learn English. A course in learner training. Teachers book. Cambridge University Press. Ellis, G. and Sinclair, B. (1989) Learning to Learn English. A course in learner training. Cambridge University Press. Little, D. (1991) Learner Autonomy. Definitions, Issues and Problems. Authentik. Tudor, I. (1996) Learner-centredness as Language Education. Cambridge University Press. Harmer, J. (1983) The practice of English Language Teaching. Longman. Parrot, M. (1993) Tasks for Language Teachers. Cambridge University Press.