Supporting learner autonomy: Developing practice through the production of courses for distance learners of French, German and Spanish

Murphy, Linda (2008). Supporting learner autonomy: Developing practice through the production of courses for distance learners of French, German and Spanish. Language Teaching Research, 12(1) pp. 83–102.

URL: http://ltr.sagepub.com/

Abstract

The development of autonomous learners is an important goal for language teaching programmes. However, achievement of this goal depends on teachers creating an environment where learners can experience autonomy in order to become more autonomous, a process referred to by Little (2003) as “autonomization”. In distance learning, course materials are the main vehicle for this process which brings particular challenges to course writers. This paper explores those challenges and how “autonomization” can be achieved through distance language teaching materials, by examining experience and developments at The Open University (UK) during its first decade of language course production. It reports the ways in which course writers in French, German and Spanish for adult distance learners have turned commitment into practice in order to develop the capacity for reflection, metacognitive strategies and conscious decision-making essential for autonomous learning. The paper concludes by considering how support for “autonomization” can be further enhanced, the implications for course writers and future research.

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