The Role of the Teacher in Developing of Learner's Autonomy – Research Paper Example

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The paper "The Role of the Teacher in Developing of Learner's Autonomy" is an excellent example of a research paper on education. The number of students taking English as a second language in schools around the world has increased over the recent past. Their learning of English is largely a function of their first language. In Saudi Arabia, the number of secondary school students taking English as a second language has grown significantly. However, the uptake and fluency in both the spoken and written language are largely influenced by the teaching methods applied.

Facilitating learners’ autonomy is one such strategy that has been the subject in a number of discussions and studies. When applied to the case of Saudi Arabia, cultural issues that affect learning have to be addressed. For instance, Saudi Arabian learners and Asian learners, in general, are stereotyped as passive dictated by teacher-led and exam-oriented school learning experiences. There are three major themes that come up; teaching/learning culture, social-cultural influences, and teachers’ experience/beliefs in the understanding of autonomy. Importance of learner autonomy Learner autonomy holds many advantages as a key theme in EFL acquisition.

Some of these advantages claimed by Borg and Al-Busaidi (2012) include improved quality of language learning, promotion of democratic societies, enhanced preparedness of individuals for life-long learning, and better utilization of learning opportunities in and out of classrooms. What is learner autonomy? The approach to learner autonomy is based on the need to challenge the traditional classroom setting where the teacher is a purveyor of information to students. Ganza (2008, p. 63) notes that the definition of learner autonomy has thus taken political, behavioral, liberal, and humanistic undertones.

As a behavioral issue, learner autonomy is the process by which learners and teachers develop systematic strategies to assist their independence in their learning. From a humanistic point of view, learner autonomy is the notion of learners ‘ self-direction’ and ‘ self-initiation’ of their learning both inside and outside the classroom as part and parcel of experimentation and discovery. Politically, learner autonomy is the notion of learners taking control of their learning by owning up the whole process. From a progressive liberal background, learner autonomy is the idea of learners taking responsibility for their learning. One of the most cited definitions of learner autonomy is fromDavidLittle’ s (1991) early attempt: Autonomy is a capacity-for detachment, critical reflection, decision making, and independent action.

It presupposes, but also entails, that the learner will develop a particular kind of psychological relation to the process and content of his learning. The capacity for autonomy will be displayed both in the way learners learn and in the way he or she transfers what has been learned to wider contexts (cited in Schwienhorst 87). Little (1991) notes that learner autonomy and language learner autonomy are two sides of the same coin.

In a later publication in 2007, Little identified language learner autonomy as: Learner autonomy is the product of an interactive process in which the teacher gradually enlarges the scope of her learners’ autonomy by gradually allowing them more control of the process and content of their learning. In classrooms as well as in naturalistic contexts communicative proficiency in a second or foreign language is also the product of an interactive process. Thus when language learner autonomy is an educational goal, we must devise an interactive dynamic that simultaneously develops communicative proficiency and learner autonomy: autonomy in language learning and autonomy in language use are the two sides of the same coin (cited in Schwienhorst 88).


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