IATEFL Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group
A website to share news and resources related to learner autonomy.
Autonomy and the Language Classroom: Opening a can of Worms
by Carol Everhard (printed in Independence, Spring 2006, Issue 37, page 2)
| Since the publication of Holec’s definitive document,
‘Autonomy and Foreign
Language Learning’ for the Council of Europe in 1979, Autonomy in
Language Learning (ALL) has been high on the agenda of issues for
discussion in relation to language learning practices and language
teaching principles. This has had serious repercussions in many
instances for the way that language teaching operations are
established, the way language learning resources are developed and the
way language teaching staff are trained and deployed.
While ALL seems a most logical and desirable aim, which most ELT educationalists would endorse, it remains, in many cases, an unfulfilled and unattainable dream. This may be because ALL does not appear to be achievable by practising any one teaching methodology, nor does ALL seem to be facilitated by any one principle or practice, but, on the contrary, seems to involve taking into account a whole range of issues.
While many of these issues have been quite thoroughly investigated by specialists in the field and familiarity with their work inspires us with confidence, at the same time, beliefs, reactions and outcomes are not always predictable and the solving of one niggling issue in relation to ALL may lead us to several others which have either been neglected or ignored, or have become entangled and entwined so that they are of much greater complexity than is immediately apparent.
In this sense, engagement with ALL can be viewed as something akin to ‘opening a can of worms’. Some of the worms that emerge include the following: Motivation, Self-esteem, Self-regulation, Counselling, Learning Styles, Learning Strategies, Learner Training, Teacher Training, Self- and Peer-assessment, Learner Diaries, Learner Contracts, Culture, Technology, Self-access, Affect, Multiple Intelligences, Differentiation, Self-instruction, Learning Pathways, Perceptions and Beliefs, Goal-setting, Portfolios and the list goes on …………. We invite you to help us examine some of these ‘worms’ under the microscope in future SIG Newsletters, by giving your opinions and describing your experiences.