Developing approaches to enhancing the orientation and success of language learning in higher education

Edwards, Chris and Perez Cavana, Maria Luisa (2012). Developing approaches to enhancing the orientation and success of language learning in higher education. In: 17th Annual Conference of the Education, Learning, Styles, Individuals Differences Network, 26-28 Jun 2012, Cardiff, Wales.


One of the constant challenges for all teachers is to improve ways of bringing learners into the subject and the particular modes of learning in ways that enhance their success. Both the literature and experience tell us that those studying a second language have some distinct and characteristic needs that are often not met. These have been described within a set of characteristics associated with the ‘good language learner’ and have been identified and studied in numerous research studies in the field of second language acquisition over the last thirty years ( Ehrmann/Oxford, 1995; Dörnyei, 2005).

There are, of course, other ways of characterising learners and their approaches to learning. One that has been developed and extensively trialled is the Effective Lifelong Learning Inventory (ELLI). Through a large evidence base this instrument has been demonstrated to be a robust indicator for assessing the relevant categories related to learning dispositions that can be developed to enhance capacity for learning. This inventory and its seven dimensions of learning power were developed and described in 2004 (Deakin Crick et al., 2004) and have been in constant use since.

When the seven dimensions of learning power within ELLI are considered alongside the characteristics of the good language learner there appears to be a degree of correlation. The focus of this paper is thus to explore the correspondence between these seven dimensions and the characteristics of the so-called ‘good language learner’ (Rubin, 1975; Stern, 1975; Naiman et al, 1978). This paper considers the implications of the outcomes of this study particularly for empowering the new language learner.

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