What is your schoolβs view about the learning process? Do you believe that a teacher must be in charge of all the learning activity? There can be strong pressures that reinforce this view: in some cultures learning is seen...
... as being passed from those with knowledge, wisdom and experience to the next generation; in private schools, fee-paying students come with an expectation that a teacher will direct everything. Yet the reality is that learner autonomy is crucial for lifelong learning, essential for the sustainability of the learning process. Just as babies have to be weaned for independent feeding, so learners have to be weaned towards independence.
I am not suggesting anything drastic. But if, for example, your students are preparing to study at a western university, they will need to acquire independent learning skills, as they will be expected to conduct their own research, read up to augment their understanding and be able to select and collate ideas to produce their own original essays. The skills required here can be very daunting for students who have never been self-reliant but have always been spoon-fed by a teacher.
The first question an organisation needs to consider, then, is: are our types of student likely to benefit from self-directed learning or will they be deterred by this approach?
If you can identify groups who would benefit from more autonomous learning, the next step is to devise a plan for implementing it. You need to consider how to prepare teachers; how you will explain and discuss the issue with students; how much of a lesson or a course will be devoted to learner autonomy; how you assess effectiveness and how you handle problems.
# Dam, L (1995). Learner autonomy. 3: From theory to classroom practice. Dublin: Authentik Language Learning Resources.
# Dickinson, L. (1987). Self-instruction in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
# Jones, J.F. (1995). 'Self-access & culture: retreating from autonomy'. ELT Journal. (vol 49, no 3, pp 228-234)
# Pemberton, R. (et.al.). (1996). Taking Control: Autonomy in Language Learning. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.
# Sheerin, S. (1989). Self-Access. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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