Developing autonomy and intercultural competence in a distance learning environment

Baumann, Uwe (2007). Developing autonomy and intercultural competence in a distance learning environment. In: Gardner, David ed. Learner autonomy: integration and support. Learner autonomy, 10. Dublin: Authentik Language Learning Resources Ltd, pp. 93–112.


This chapter reports on a research project undertaken with advanced distance learners of German at The Open University in the UK (OUUK). The broad aims of the project were to assess the learners' knowledge of German-speaking countries, their attitudes towards Germany, and their perception about their learning and their course. The chapter focuses on two aspects of the research. The first is to establish and record how far the learners felt that the specified learning outcomes relating to autonomy and intercultural competence had been met by the course they had studied. The second (interrelated) aspect is to evaluate to what degree these learners demonstrated acquisition of intercultural competence, and what indicators could be found to assess their level of autonomous behaviour.
The chapter begins by reviewing the concept of autonomy in relation to distance language learning and then discusses briefly the key features of the acquisition of intercultural competence through foreign language learning. The chapter then focuses on the research project, with a description of its background and methodology, and a discussion of the key findings.

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