A Double-Channel Model for Developing Learner Autonomy in an EFL Context

A Double-Channel Model for Developing Learner Autonomy in an EFL Context

Jinghui Wang (Harbin Institute of Technology, China), Kenneth A. Spencer (Hull University, UK) and Dongshuo Wang (University of Manchester, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2012070101
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Using Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) to develop learner autonomy is a challenging task in the context of teaching English as a foreign language (EFL). A new, double channel model for developing learner autonomy is proposed. This provides the basis for an experimental study, which investigates the impact of an autonomous learning platform (ALP). Both self-directed learning and socially-mediated learning are incorporated into the platform. The results of the study indicate that the double channel model supports the facilitating effects of scaffolding through English communication in an EFL context.
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Review Of Models For Developing Efl Learner Autonomy

In the past two decades, language learning and teaching researchers and practitioners have proposed a range of models to account for the development of learner autonomy (Benson, 1997; Blin, 2005; Macaro, 1997; Nunan, 1997). Nunan (1997) and Blin (2004, 2005) have concentrated on independent interaction with learning materials and educational technologies, while Benson (1997, 2001) emphasized learner control and Macaro (1997) the developmental process of learner autonomy.

Nunan's Five-level Model

To foster learner autonomy inside the classroom, Nunan (1997) proposes a five-level model. In his scheme, five levels are outlined for developing learner autonomy: awareness, involvement, intervention, creation and transcendence. Learners' awareness is viewed as the first step towards learner autonomy because it helps learners understand the learning goal and context. Learners are expected to become aware of the pedagogical goals and identify their own preferred learning strategies or styles.

Learners are encouraged to move from awareness to active involvement in the learning process and then make choices among a range of options. This is an intermediate stage, with the act of choosing being more important than the actual learning task itself, because it involves learner decision making. Next, learners are encouraged to intervene in the learning process by modifying learning goals or choosing learning content, moving on to creation that embraces learners setting their own goals, updating learning content and creating learning tasks.

At the heart of learner autonomy is transcendence, which requires the learner to make connections between the content of the classroom and the world beyond the classroom. At this level, learners take responsibility for their own learning, and learn to be effective language users, gradually becoming truly autonomous language learners.

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