Learner Autonomy

“You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him find it within himself”

Galileo Galilei ( 1564-1642)

In 21st Century, education has been going  through some changes in terms of methods, perspectives, tools, settings etc. In the past, the teacher was the  only authority and the only resource for students to provide information. However; with the advent of internet,  access to information gets easier.  The internet has been growing quite fast in terms of tools, content and resources. So, students have almost everything they need for their education. The question is ”  Are we going to need teachers in the future?”.  The studies and researches show that we need teachers to be a guide or a facilitator. They have to help learners to reach the correct content in a faster way and how to benefit better from the internet etc. Students’ role have to change, as well. They need to be AUTONOMOUS.

Autonomy is your capacity to take responsibility for, and control of, your own learning, whether in an institutionalised context, or completely independent of a teacher or institution.’ (Thornbury, 2006)

Acquiring a language takes quite much time. During that time, students have to take more responsibility and spend more time rather than expecting from teachers.  ‘Autonomous learning is more effective than non-autonomous learning.’ (Lowry) That’s why teachers should foster autonomus learning. But HOW?

  • Students should believe they can learn independently outside the classroom.
  • Desire to take responsibility
  • Students should be encouraged to understand their own learning style and find strategies.
  • Teachers should be less instructor.
  • Students need to make decisions about their learning.
  • Examples of strategies to help develop learner autonomy (Swift)

When I was a student, I was following foreign tv channels, keeping journals, reading newspapers, listening to bbc podcasts, chatting online, which helped me a lot to acquire the language faster.


Teachers might face some challanges to promote the autonomous learning.

  • Students may not like to do anything on their own.
  • Students like to be dependent on teachers.
  • Teachers have pressure of pacing schedules such as plans, assignments, tests etc.
  • Learning Culture of the country have an influence. For example, most arabs like authoritative teachers.

For more information, research of British Council, Learner Autonomy

For a powerpoint presentation of SlideShare, Approaches To Learner Autonomy In Language Learning



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