Learning to Learn Digitally: Getting Students on the Road to Autonomy

Learning to Learn Digitally: Getting Students on the Road to Autonomy

N. M. Terhune (Ryukoku University, Kyoto, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/ijcallt.2013100102
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How can educators empower and encourage their students to be more proactive, and give them the tools necessary to learn on their own, utilizing digital language learning resources in a culturally sensitive way? Described below is a project that introduced students to how technology and the Internet can empower the independent language learner. The goal was for the students to develop knowledge of and confidence in self-instruction and learn how to use technology and the Internet to further their language education independently. This article first outlines research into autonomous language learning with computers, offers a list of key elements for autonomous language learning, gives a description of how an independent language learning project was implemented and reports on results of student surveys that measured student response to the project. These students lacked the skills, knowledge and confidence to study on their own. However, by learning autonomous language learning concepts, and with instruction on how technology and the Internet can support a digital language learner, they gained the understanding and confidence to set and accomplish language learning goals on their own.
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The project reported in this article introduced students to autonomous language learning and digital resources available to the independent language learner and encouraged students to challenge themselves with an independent language learning project. In a 15-week semester consisting of 15 classes, the first seven prepared students for independent language learning projects through presentation of autonomous language learning tasks like formulating short- and long-term goals and participating in self-assessment and group discussion of language learning techniques. Students were then left on their own for the next eight weeks to carry out independent language learning projects. Students selected sites and media they felt would best help them reach their language learning goals. They developed language learning strategies that carried them through their eight-week independent study. Students then documented and reported on their language learning experience. Data was collected with beginning and end of class surveys to gauge students’ knowledge of and feelings about autonomous language learning, technology and language learning possibilities on the web. Results, presented below, showed that students found the project and media on the Internet useful for independent language learning.

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