Learner Autonomy in Language Learning: A Myth?

Unicorn & me (4)
Does language learning have to be teacher-led in order to work?

Is the very concept of learner autonomy simply a very fancy way of describing will-power, and thus, limited to those who have already have this - i.e it's not something achievable by the mere masses of students which go through our hands but instead belongs to an elite body of super-motivated learners? 


Is it theoretical possibility... but not realistic probability?  Hmm....

Can a teacher ever "teach" it? 
Can a learner ever "learn" it?

What do you think?

7 Responses to “Learner Autonomy in Language Learning: A Myth?”

  • Steve Kaufmann says:
    August 09, 2011

    The question should be whether the actions or personality of the teacher can influence the motivation of the learner. Can a teacher create motivated learners? I think the answer is yes.

    August 09, 2011

    Agree! so the next question would be, how?

  • lin says:
    August 09, 2011

    Teachers can't teach students who aren't motivated to learn. Students can't learn from teachers who aren't motivated to teach. It's a two way street. You can look at it as a chicken/egg problem.

  • aelfwyne says:
    August 09, 2011

    To many students who are motivated but not extraordinarily disciplined, the teacher fills the role of a coach. Sure, the student can learn on his own, but having the feedback and rapport from the teacher keeps the student focused on the finish line. If teachers were not providing a useful service, students stop paying them. The myth of the class full of students who learn nothing is just a myth.

    August 10, 2011

    Great points, both! I reckon motivation is indeed, contagious, Lin. I agree aelfwyne, in the super motivated students who don't do homework, for example - i.e. motivated within the classroom frame but less so outside it.

  • English listening online says:
    August 11, 2011

    I have to admit, that, despite my best efforts, I'll get students who are not motivated. I've got one at the moment who is just sent there by her company and openly admits to not wanting to do anything outside the classroom. It's a difficult problem to solve.


  • Chris says:
    August 12, 2011

    Well, I don’t think language learning has to be teacher led. It might help but it’s not a necessity. It’s easier than ever to get your own resources and to meet people whose language you are learning.

    Also I think the question of will-power can be addressed, especially these days as the resources and technology are now available for us to do, listen or read something in our target language at any time and wherever we are. If you’ve got motivation to learn a language, use it to build an awesome ‘language environment’. Once the environment is in place (e.g. MP3 player – only have Spanish on it, if you’re learning Spanish etc) and you’ve got the language within in reach wherever you go, it becomes less a matter of willpower and more a matter of choosing what to do next in that language.

    I also agree that a teacher can motivate. They can even motivate non-motivated students. Though the teacher’s ability to do this, is often limited by the curriculum they working under.


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