Thursday, November 21, 2013

Week 7

Developing Autonomy in Language Learners

 I never teach my students. I simply provide the situations in which they can learn.”

Main goals:
• Make your students independent of the teacher
• Help the learner to become independent and become his/her own mentor
• provide students with the tools to be able to learn on their own
• make your students part of the decision making about classroom activities
The role of teacher in developing learner autonomy:
• model role
• moderator
• facilitator
How autonomy starts in classroom:
• Give them choice
• Show them ways of learning
• Use the learners’ interest
• Talk about it in classroom

Here are the tips:
• show them how to learn (teach them also study skills), what suits them most and how to get most out of it
• Show learners ideas from your own learning (writing coloured words on papers, putting them on the walls). You can be a good role model for your students.
• suggest websites, radio stations anything that could be interesting and can motivate them to use these things outside classroom
• Films – discuss the films in classroom, watch film with/without subtitles, watch film in L1 and then in L2.
• Give them mLearning tech and tools
• Show them how to do things on the blog which they do at home (toondoo, embedding youtube,
• etc. ), create class blogs, yahoogroups
• Have your students set the objectives and then have them evaluate their progress
• Give them tools like spidergrams, guessing from context, train dictionary use
• Use student-generated content, peer pressure/role modeling
• Use self-access box in your classroom
• Do not let your course book limit you in developing learner autonomy – enrich, adapt, enliven it
• Tell your students about multitasking – learn while doing something else
• Show them the ways they can use course book at home (transcripts, grammar pages…)
• never do anything that you can get students to do
• Make your students think about why you do some activities in classroom, help them to become aware of the purpose
• Show them how they can use target language outside the classroom (where they can find it)
• Students’ diaries/journals/audio diaries
• Give them feedback (more than correction)
• Be careful with homework – think how to present it (rather search/project/task like than exercise or a worksheet to fill in)
• Use readers, classroom library
• Encourage your students to make friends with other people using English for communication
• Record your students…and their progress
• Encourage students to use Google Docs as their online vocabulary notebooks
• Ask them to teach (what they have learned) someone else, family members, friends…
• Persuade your students to use their mobiles in English for a week or so… (switch to English where you can)
Useful web applications:
• Voicethread
• Vocaroo
• wikis
• Tutorials (,
• Moodle
• Audio boo

Further reading/activities on Learners’ Autonomy:
o lecture by Leni Dam on learner autonomy -
o 40 odd websites to learn outside the classroom –
o A lesson by @sabridv where students take over the teaching for a day –
o I have also blogged about the stuff related to learners’ autonomy so if you are interested you can find it here:
o Learner Autonomy – a guide to developing learner responsibility (Agota Scharle and Anita Szabo), Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers
o Holec, one of the main sources of inspiration for LA
o some free books with audio recordings on


  1. Hello Inesa!
    Thank you for all those wonderful tips that you shared with us!
    I like to see how much us teachers are now turing into the idea of being moderators or facilitators of information for students! We keep learning more and more everyday!
    Again thank you for sharing all those tips with us!

  2. Hi Inesa!

    I like the way you started your post with Einstein's words. You're right, our role as teacher is not to only teach but above all to provide students with situation in which they can learn. So we are facilitators, moderators, guides.
    Thank you for sharing your ideas.

    Let us continue our knowledge trip, learning more and more from each other.


  3. Hello Inesa,

    Thanks for the inspiring tips you provided on your blog. All along when we read your post, we do see that all the tips given are for developing learner autonomy fully. We have to adapt to new situations or else perish don't you think so? But what I really like about all that you have written is that although all your tips are about learner autonomy, yet the teacher is so very present- if I can venture to say omnipresent too!!! The teacher still plays an active role in the process as guide, mentor, facilitator, the teacher is the link between the class and the tools promoting autonomous learning.

    I will also like to stress on one sentence in your post, 'Do not let your course book limit you in developing learner autonomy – enrich, adapt, enliven it'. Unfortunately, in my country, we are too text-book based. Once we try to change a little bit, once we try to act differently, even adapt the textbooks, there will be loads of parents inquiring and wanting to know why we are not conforming to the syllabus. I do like the idea though, because at times following the textbooks 'verbatim' leads to lack of variety in class which in turn leads to boredom and on and on.

    Thanks for such an informative post,

  4. Hi Inesa,
    You summarized the whole week with tips for teaching depending on autonomy means. What I like most about your blog is you got the most with the least.

    I have also added you to my blog reading list. I was inspired by letting our students know about their rubrics which give them an insight of how they should study.

    By the way, while surfing some of your websites, I came across my role model of teachers and professors. His name is Ken Wilson. This man has been a pioneer in terms tech approaches of education.
    Good luck with your project.
    Waseem Z.