Managing and supporting language learners in open and distance learning environments

Hurd, Stella (2001). Managing and supporting language learners in open and distance learning environments. In: Mozzon-McPherson, Marina and Vismans, Roel eds. Beyond language teaching towards language advising. London, UK: CILT Publications, pp. 135–148.



This chapter explores the nature of support for the language learner within the context
of open and distance learning. It argues that, in order to be in a position to advise and
support appropriately and effectively, it is necessary to address the many variables
that exist in any body of learners, including beliefs and attitudes, styles and strategies,
and to take these into account when designing a course for distance learners.
Preliminary work in this area is reported through the findings of a study into the
beliefs, strategies and attitudes to support carried out with a group of Open University
(OU) students of French. Finally, it is proposed that if we are to promote an
autonomous approach to distance language learning, we need to extend our research
into the kinds of strategies that prove particularly effective in this context, and the
links that these may have with other learner variables. Tutors and course writers
should also embrace the potential of the Internet to advise and support distance
learners on-line, to offer new opportunities for knowledge gathering and language
practice, and to encourage mutual support.

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