Learner Autonomy and Language Awareness

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  • Learner Autonomy & Language AwarenessBy: Melissa Riddle and Sarah Adelman

  • Promoting Learner AutonomyLearners must no longer sit there and expect to be taught; teachers must no longer stand up there teaching all the time. Teachers have to learn to let go and learners have to learn to take holdBrian Page, 1992, p.84

  • Psychological Stand PointCognitive PsychologyHumanistic PsychologyEducational Psychology

  • Learner Autonomy in L2Self-InstructionSelf-DirectionSelf-AccessIndividualized Instruction

  • DiscussionFocusing on a class you have taught or taken, consider the degree of autonomy exercised by the learners Think about factors that might have contributed to total, partial, or no learner control.

  • Narrow View vs. Broad View Narrow View chief goal of learner autonomy is to learn to learnBroad View- chief goal should be to learn to liberate

  • Narrow ViewEnabling learners to learn how to learnToolsTrainingPrimary Focus- learners academic achievement through strategic engagementability to take charge of ones own learning

  • Learner AutonomyWhat it is..Develop a capacity for critical thinkingDiscover learning potentialTake responsibility for learningFace weakness and failureDevelop Self Control & Self DisciplineGive up total dependence on teacherUnderstand autonomy is complex

    What it is notAutonomy is not indepenceAutonomy is not context-freeAutonomy is not a steady state

  • Four Processes Anna ChamotEnable learners to exercises control over learningPlanningMonitoringProblem SolvingEvaluatingPage 134

  • Learning StrategiesTaxonomy by Rebecca Oxford6 categories3 direct3 indirectDirect- directly involve target languageIndirect- support and manage language learning without indirectly involving the target languageLearner-centered

  • DiscussionIn what ways can teachers contribute to the development of learner autonomy?

  • Learner TrainingTeachersNegotiate with learnersShare with learnersEncourage discussionIncrease awareness of alternative strategiesAllow learners to form own viewCounseling and guidanceLearnersIdentify learning strategies and stylesStretch strategies and stylesEvaluate language performanceReach out for opportunitiesSeek teacher interventionCollaborate with other learnersOpportunities to communicate

  • Broad ViewLearn a language as a means to an end, the end being learning to liberateEmpowers learners to be critical thinkers in order to realize their potentialPaulo Freire- liberate learning from the constraints of schoolingTake into account the sociopolitical factors that shape the culture of the L2 classroom.

  • Meaningful Liberatory AutonomyEncourage learners to assume the role of mini-ethnographersWrite diaries and journal entriesHelp with the formation of learning communitiesEnable them to think criticallyProvide opportunities to explore unfolding frontiers

  • Degrees of AutonomyInitial Stage- emphasis on raising the learners awarenessIntermediary Stage- emphasis on allowing the learner to choose from a range of optionsAdvanced Stage- emphasis is on learner determination of own goals, task, materials

  • ClosingAcademic Autonomy vs. Liberatory AutonomyAutonomy is COMPLEXTeachers let goLearners take hold

  • Fostering Language AwarenessLanguage awareness: A persons sensitivity to and conscious awareness of the nature of language and its role in human life (Kuma 157)

  • DiscussionWhat role did a teacher (or anybody else) play in promoting your sensitivity to language and its role in life?

  • Purpose of Language AwarenessBritish educators sought to bridge the gap between primary and secondary level school language expectations, and between first and second language teaching and activitiesIt was an attempt to eliminate prejudice and antagonism that are caused by ignorance

  • Whole Language ApproachAmericas answer to Language AwarenessIt integrated reading, writing, speaking, and listening to provide a richer language experienceIt sought to acknowledge linguistic and dialectic variations within languages as well as between them as valid

  • DiscussionHow can we as educators validate and utilize our students standard and nonstandard linguistic backgrounds in the classroom?

  • Teachers and Language AwarenessTeachers with a limited knowledge of language functions and characteristics may result in failure to accommodate students learning needsAbout Language: Tasks for Teachers of English was published to address this concern

  • LATELanguage Awareness in Teacher Education (LATE) is an alternative program designed to deal with teachers inadequacies in language awarenessA successful LATE class should:Take an experimental approach to LAReject language as a productStudy language critically

  • Critical Language AwarenessSince LA focuses on details of languages rather than their overall role in life, CLA was developed to focus on thatEnglish teachers should view themselves as Language teachers with no specific tie to the English language, but a devotion to all languages

  • DiscussionHow do you feel about the notion that English teachers should consider themselves Language teachers? How would this definition change your classroom?

  • Incorporating CLA into a Second Language ClassroomSelect textbooks not only for their content, but their ability to challenge students intellectual abilities as wellUtilize open-ended questions and discussions in the classroomEncourage discussion of social and cultural topics(Kuma 166)

  • Microstrategies for Fostering Language AwarenessExamine register and formality and its effect in languageExamine doublespeak and its rhetorical effectExamine language choice in politics and its effect on speakers and listeners(More detail available in Kuma 168-175)

  • ConclusionLanguage awareness is not a unit that can be incorporated into a classroom, instead it is a philosophy that must be lived every day. By ensuring that we are aware of the importance of language and its effects on us as listeners, we can help our students learn to harness and understand the power of language.

    From a philosophical point of view one of the desirable though not easily achievable, goals of general education has always been to create autonomous individuals who are willing and able to think indepently and act responsibly.*Cognitive-learning is very effective if the learner integrates knowledge within a personal framework

    Humanistic- emphasizes the promotion of learner self-esteem through personal ownership of learning

    Educational- posits a strong connection between learner autonomy and learner motivation*Self-Instruction- situations in which learners are working without the direct control of the teacher

    Self-Direction- situations in which learners accept responsibility for all the decisions concerned with learning but not necessarily for the implementation of those decisions

    Self- Access- situations In which learners make use of self-access teaching material or instructional technology that is made available to them

    Individualized Instruction- situations in which the learning process is adapted either by the teacher or by the learner to suit the specific characteristics of an individual learner

    These terms show there is a varying degree of learner involvement and teacher engagement.*Taking Charge= to have and to hold the responsibility for determining learning objectives, defining contents and progressions, selecting methods and techniques to be used, monitoring the procedure of acquisition and finally evaluating what has been acquired.**Direct- memory strategies-remembering and retrieving new informationcognitive strategies-understanding and producing the languagecompensation strategies- making do with limited, still-developing proficiency

    Indirect- metacognitive-coordinating learning process affective strategies- regulating emotions and attitudes social strategies- learning and working with others

    Page 136

    Important to remember there are many individual ways of learning a language successfully and there will be different students who approach language learning differently.

    *Successful learner training includes psychological as well as strategic preparation

    A crucial task of the teacher wishing to promote learner autonomy is to help learners take responsibility for their learning, and to bring about necessary attitudinal changes in them.

    Learner training aims to provide learners with the alternative from which to make informed choices about what, how, why, when, and where they learn.*Actively seeking to help learners recognize sociopolitical impediments placed in their paths to progress and by providing them with the intellectual tools necessary to over come them.

    *Investigate and understand how language rules and language use are socially structured

    About issues that directly engage their sense of who they are and how they relate to the social world

    Where learners develop into unified socially cohesive mutually supportive groups


    In cyberspace, online services, **We cant assume academic autonomy is only for learners of lower proficiency and liberatory autonomy is for learners of higher proficiency.

    Autonomy is a complex structure that can be understood only through careful study and achieved only through continual struggle.

    Autonomy requries teachers who are wiling to let go and learners who are willing to take hold.*