Sunday, February 26, 2012

Learners' autonomy.

 In the article "What Is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered?" by Dimitrios Thanasoulas The author  provides a  definition of autonomy, from Holec (1981: 3, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 1) who describes it as 'the ability to take charge of one's learning'. On a general note, the term autonomy has come to be used in at least five ways (see Benson & Voller, 1997: 2):
  • for situations in which learners study entirely on their own;
  • for a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning;
  • for an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education;
  • for the exercise of learners' responsibility for their own learning;
  • for the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning.
Within the context of education, though, there seem to be seven main attributes characterising autonomous learners (see Omaggio, 1978, cited in Wenden, 1998: 41-42):
  1. Autonomous learners have insights into their learning styles and strategies;
  2. take an active approach to the learning task at hand;
  3. are willing to take risks, i.e., to communicate in the target language at all costs;
  4. are good guessers;
  5. attend to form as well as to content, that is, place importance on accuracy as well as appropriacy;
  6. develop the target language into a separate reference system and are willing to revise and reject hypotheses and rules that do not apply; and
  7. have a tolerant and outgoing approach to the target language.
Dimitrios Thanasoulas also points out attitude,  motivation, and self esteem.   Which I consider very important because a learner needs these aspect to foster his/her learning process. On the other hand, Samuel P-H Sheu concludes that the paramount concern is that unless these conditions such as n examination-dominated system are remedied or teachers adopt appropriate activities, learner autonomy will remain a bird-in-the-bush rather than a bird-in-the-hand. One suggestion is leaving the development of learner autonomy until students reach the freer atmosphere of a university or college, and the increased maturity. 
In conclusion, learner autonomy is up to us to be implemented, even if we find  constrains, such as educational system, colleagues and so forth, we must foster autonomy in our learners. 


kat said...

hi Nando

It is true that attitude, motivation and self-esteem play a vital role in fostering learner autonomy. However, I would say that attitude can play the most important role. I know the other two elements are of great importance, but it is the attitude that makes people do great things.


Rade Petricevic said...

Hello Nando,

Your refection for Week 7 is so great and the photos are interesting ones. I think that we should start to help our students to become independent learners from their early stages. I also think that we should encourage them to go further whether they make the mistakes or not. As we all know that we learn from mistakes. I completely agree with you that it is up to us to implement learners' autonomy no matter which obstacles are on our way.

Everything the best