Learner autonomy research

Published: 2018-03-05 11:45:31
1256 words
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George Washington University
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2.4.3. Learner autonomy in learning vocabulary

Feng (2015) agrees that LA is increasingly attracting much attention from learners of English language especially in studying vocabulary. This is mainly because of the significant of LA in evolving successful acquisition of language by learners. Besides, the current tendency in education implies that much focus is needed in motivation and learners' needs, merely because they are associated with the learner's language gain (Borg & Al-Busaidi, 2012). Due to the different learning success and experiential history of students and thus, have reduced autonomous placements. Usually, there are poor skills in cultivating autonomy, and that requires guidance and support from their instructors or teachers. Therefore, to improve LA in mastering vocabulary is an essential cause in the learning undertakings (Little, 1991).

2.4.4. Fostering learner autonomy

According to Feng (2015), there are proposed approaches of 'strong' and 'weak' that provide encouragement to an independent learner. There is a top-down 'weak' framework that suggests that adequate guidance of useful concepts of learning need to be delivered to learners with deficient autonomy. For instance, it could be providing practical skills in individual access places. However, this procedure is attacked on the basis that it does not consider the disparities of individuals' ability for autonomous learning. This means that it is primarily required that learners be in a mental condition of preparedness for autonomous studies (Feng, 2015).

For example, most students of EFL program have the personal history of having overly secondary characters by the time they get to educational institutions, and this causes tremendous difficulties when adjusting to a new curriculum that operates on autonomy. Consequently, in this scenario teachers are tasked to initiate a bottom-up 'healthy' approach, that pays attention to the needs of learners. In other words, the present degree of student's knowledge and skill to operate autonomously, should not be ignored by teachers (Feng, 2015).  Regarding this, Nunan (1999) recommended for five various degrees: intervention, development, knowledge, excellence and participation. Nevertheless, teachers have the capacity to assist learners to evolve skills in autonomous mastery and which students can control and sustain. Also, it is fundamental to assess the collaboration effort of teachers to figure out the modes of learning autonomy that is required by students, as well as the necessary intervention plans (Feng, 2015).

According to Dimitrios Thanasoulas (2000), the methods of fostering LA is precise to posit way of providing autonomy to teachers. Notwithstanding, the primary focus is on ensuring that students can acquire the adequate measure of freedom, despite the learner's effectiveness is based on the educational programs as well as the essential duties of the instructors (Thanasoulas, 2000). The following approaches would promote autonomy to learners:

· Self-reports

Thanasoulas (2000) indicates that a better method of gathering information about students' learning progress and assist them to acknowledge their individual strategies would be to allocate an exercise and make them report about their thoughts while carrying out the task. This approach is discussed by Wenden (1998) as introspective just because it causes the students to introspect on their studies. Ideally, self-reports are simply a verbal information of learners flow of consciousness and therefore, provide details about the concepts used by learners from the report. Similarly, there are the retrospective reports in which learners are asked to report about their previous thoughts or retrospect on their studies (Thanasoulas, 2000).

· Assessment sheets and diaries

On the same note, Thanasoulas (2000) demonstrates that one of the primary aims of learning is to modify students' convictions about themselves and reveal to them that their lack of success or misfortunes can be related to ineffective strategies as opposed to their inabilities. In essence, education is a reflective form of what was conventionally social interaction, and thus learners can assess their capabilities through interactions such as guidance from teachers. Therefore, the purpose of diaries and assessment sheets provide learners with the opportunity to make schedules, observe and investigate on their studies (Thanasoulas, 2000).

2.4.5. Conditions for learner autonomy

Previous research has been attentive on listing the necessary attributes of independence. However, Thanasoulas (2000) clarifies that to achieve freedom in learning, particular conditions need to be met, such as the learner have to demonstrate cognitive and metacognitive concepts; there should be motivation, understanding and attitudes concerning the language study.  Furthermore, students have guided paths to acquire autonomy thanks to the teachers and thus, considerably, autonomous learning must be guided by a teacher (Thanasoulas, 2000).

2.5. Self-esteem

2.5.1. Self-esteem and learning

The theory of self-esteem is closely associated with motivation and perception, and that is to mean individual assessment carried out by the learner about the essential learning or language of interest (Thanasoulas, 2000). Self-esteem, therefore, as defined by Coopersmith (1967, cited in Thanasoulas, 2000), is a self-judgment of valuableness that is shown in the perspective that the person considers to themselves. In other words, Coopersmith (1967) indicates that if a learner has a healthy regard for self, his/her association with themselves as learners is improbable to be wrecked by any different evaluations from the teacher. In contrast, the absence of self-esteem will probably cause a negative opinion towards a student's capability as well as a degradation in cognitive implementation.  Therefore, revealing how the learner perceive him/herself as incompetent to learn (Thanasoulas, 2000). According to Rosa (1999), the acquisition of a second language is affected by intrinsic and extrinsic aspects that lead to effectiveness in language learning. Research has shown that fundamental element of self-esteem is a key individual component that is active during any affective tasks or cognitive learning of the second language. She explains that additional intrinsic components are motivation, concern, self-consciousness, and ability to take risks. Further studies on these aspects have enabled the detailed understanding of learning a language and enhancement of techniques of teaching.

Likewise, external components affecting self-esteem are comprised of socio-cultural conditions which result from the experiences of a learner of both two languages and cultures. That is, both aspects of socio-cultural and individualism have a potential of providing success in learning of language (Rosa, 1999). Researchers on language gain indicate that the classification of self-esteem by psychologist includes, global self-esteem, task self-esteem and specific or situational self-esteem (Rosa, 2000).  Global self-esteem refers to a collection of both experiences of Intra and interpersonal aspects and evaluations of the outside world that people make. Situational or definite self-esteem works with special considerations of various life occurrences. Furthermore, the level of circumstantial self-esteem usually changes regarding the circumstances faced by a person. Usually, social communications which include settings such as school, home and workplace, or rather characteristics such as tolerance, ability to speak and reasoning, all combined form the situational or specific self-esteem. Besides that, task self-esteem is described as the assessment individuals make in some cases. An illustration of the occupation self-esteem in the setting of language is the individual analysis of a particular factor in the process of gaining that includes writing, oral skills, reading, and also a single language instruction (Rosa, 1999).

Therefore, from the discussion above, self-esteem cannot be overlooked due to its importance in language learning. In fact, for any sufficient cognitive or contributing activity there must be some level of self-esteem in play. Rosa (1999) and Coopersmith (1967) agree that learners record high performance mainly because of an elevated global self-esteem, or rather due to increased global self-esteem, the outcome is the success of their activities.  Rosa (2000) proposes that investigative studies on three degrees of self-esteem and score of students in the second language showed that there was a positive relationship between self-esteem levels and speaking presentation. For example, the highest correspondence was observed between the presentation of oral language and task self-esteem. Therefore, it proves that oral language presentation has the potential effect on global self-esteem.


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