Tanulói autonómia – Hayo Reinders összefoglalásában

Hayo Reinders egyik kutatási területe a tanulói autonómia, számos tanulmányt írt már ebben a témakörben. Honlapján részletes bibliográfiát találhat az érdeklődő. Itt találtuk az tanulói autonómiát szemléletesen leíró és bemutató diasorát, melyet most közreadunk. Magasabb nyelvi szinten egy óra nyelvi anyagát is adhatja – ebből kiindulva beszélgethetünk tanulóinkkal arról, hogy miért fontos, hogy egyre önállóbb nyelvtanulóvá váljunk, illetve arról, hogy mit tehetünk ennek érdekében.

A második rész nekünk, tanároknak szól – hogyan segíthetjük tanulóink autonómmá válását?

What is learner autonomy and why would I care about it?

Learner Autonomy is, first and foremost, a mindset. A way of thinking about learning as a journey where you decide where to go, and how to travel.

You may occasionally hire a tour guide to explain about the local sights, but then you’re on the road again, to wherever the events and the people you meet take you.

Sometimes you go directly to the next town, and sometimes you stop for a drink on the way.

Sometimes you go to the museum, and sometimes for a hike in the mountains.
Sometimes you read about the history of the sights, and sometimes you just soak up the atmosphere.

Sometimes you have time to prepare and sometimes you rush off to the airport at the last moment.

Sometimes you feel great, and sometimes you are homesick.

And sometimes, you just need a break.

Autonomy, then, is an intimately personal affair. It is about your life, about what you want to achieve, and what you enjoy.

In this way, it is the only way to learn successfully in the long term.

Because no one knows you better than you do, and no one can make your choices for you, autonomy requires you to get to know yourself better.

Becoming autonomous is a process of discovery.

Because autonomy is about you and starts from within you, it cannot be forced upon you.

You, and you alone, can make the decision to start this journey.

But just as good travellers listen to others and learn from their experiences, good learners are not islands.

They rely on others to offer insights, and occasionally, show them the way.
Autonomy is thus about freedom, both freedom from being told what to do, and the freedom to do what you think is best.

Autonomy does not live happily in places without choice and it does not prosper in places where one part of the population is disadvantaged over another.

Restrictions on what to learn or how to learn do not favour the development of autonomy.

I am a teacher. How can I introduce the idea of autonomy to my students?

You are a great teacher! You are ready give your students the freedom to express themselves as individuals. Many teachers find this unnerving, as it makes their lessons less predictable.

You are obviously adventurous enough to consider taking a step towards making your classes more learner-centred. Applause! Many of your colleagues are not ready yet.

You have two basic choices. One is to introduce the idea of autonomy in your classroom. The other is to make use of resources specifically designed to develop learner autonomy, such as self-access centres and language advising.

Let’s start with the first option. There are some practical tips further down, but let’s talk about the preparation phase first. You will need three things: patience, patience, and … patience! Developing autonomy takes time and depends on your persistence.

Don’t give up if your learners take some time to get used to their new-found freedom and their changing roles. It would not be realistic to expect your students to take responsibility for their learning from one day, or even month, to the next.

The overall classroom atmosphere needs to value and encourage reflection and learner initiative. Students need to recognise that their views and roles are valued before they are willing to risk greater participation.

As part of the preparation you will also need to talk to your students about what you aim to do and why. No one likes to be left in the dark, especially when there are changes in everyday classroom routine. Explain your thinking and what it means for your students.

So, what does encouraging in the classroom look like? Below you will find a link to a short article about implementing a pedagogy for autonomy with some practical tips on where to start. When you complete reading it, a computer-generated test will be emailed to you to check your understanding of the article (just kidding).

So much for the language classroom. How about more specific approaches? The table below shows you some of the more common approaches to implementing autonomy.

Learner training: Specific courses or short courses where the focus is on developing skills for independent learning and raising students’ awareness of the importance of learning outside the classroom. Such courses usually include strategy instruction and often also include general study skills, rather than language learning skills only.

Strategy instruction: Often offered as part of regular classroom teaching, and sometimes offered as specific classes or short courses on language learning strategies.

Self-access: Often considered the most common way of implementing autonomy, the provision of a self-access centre, or online self-access materials, usually involves making available resources for independent learning and staff support. Sometimes self-access learning is integrated into the classroom with the teacher working with students in the centre, and sometimes self-access is used outside classroom time, for remedial or practice purposes. In North America Writing Centres often perform a similar role.

Language advising: A type of language support whereby a teacher and a learner meet to discuss the learner’s needs and progress, and where the advisor (or language counsellor offers feedback, recommends materials, and helps the learner to plan their learning.

Specific tools: Many institutions have developed or link to (online or print) tools, for the management of the language learning process, which often quite explicitly aim to foster learner autonomy. Examples include (electronic) portfolios such as those developed by the European Union, tandem learning programmes, and personal learning environments, that aim to facilitate and create links between formal and informal learning. Some have developed online learning environments that offer materials for self-study, tips for independent learning, and opportunities for staff and student communication.