Learner Autonomy: English Language Teachers' Beliefs and Practices
October 2010 - September 2011
Learner autonomy - the ability and willingness of learners to take charge of their own learning - has been a major area of interest in language teaching for over 20 years. Much has been written about how learner autonomy can support language learning (and lifelong learning more generally) and various ways of defining and measuring learner autonomy have been proposed. Teachers' voices have, however, been largely absent from this work and little is actually known about what learner autonomy means to English language teachers. This is a significant gap given the influence that teachers' beliefs have on how they teach, and, of particular interest here, on whether and how they seek to promote learner autonomy.
This collaborative study addresses this gap by examining what 'learner autonomy' means to language teachers in a large (over 200 teachers and about 4000 learners) English language centre in Oman. Additionally, it uses these insights into teachers' beliefs to design, deliver, and assess the impact of an in-service teacher training course focusing on learner autonomy. The findings of this work, while grounded in the study of a particular site, will be of wide practical interest in ELT given global concerns for promoting learner autonomy, particularly in contexts (such as that studied here) where encouraging learners to be autonomous is often perceived as a particular challenge.