#ELTchat – Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time

26/01/2011 – Another great #ELTchat – Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time.


“I never teach my students. I simply provide the situations in which they can learn.” Einstein

Main goals:
• Make your students independent of the teacher
• Help the learner to become independent and become his/her own mentor
• provide students with the tools to be able to learn on their own
• make your students part of the decision making about classroom activities

The role of teacher in developing learner autonomy:
• model role
• moderator
• facilitator

How autonomy starts in classroom:
• Give them choice
• Show them ways of learning
• Use the learners’ interest
• Talk about it in classroom

Here are the tips:
• show them how to learn (teach them also study skills), what suits them most and how to get most out of it
• Show learners ideas from your own learning (writing coloured words on papers, putting them on the walls). You can be a good role model for your students.
• suggest websites, radio stations anything that could be interesting and can motivate them to use these things outside classroom
• Films – discuss the films in classroom, watch film with/without subtitles, watch film in L1 and then in L2.
• Give them mLearning tech and tools
• Show them how to do things on the blog which they do at home (toondoo, embedding youtube,
• etc. ), create class blogs, yahoogroups
• Have your students set the objectives and then have them evaluate their progress
• Give them tools like spidergrams, guessing from context, train dictionary use
• Use student-generated content, peer pressure/role modeling
• Use self-access box in your classroom
• Do not let your course book limit you in developing learner autonomy – enrich, adapt, enliven it
• Tell your students about multitasking – learn while doing something else
• Show them the ways they can use course book at home (transcripts, grammar pages…)
• never do anything that you can get students to do
• Make your students think about why you do some activities in classroom, help them to become aware of the purpose
• Show them how they can use target language outside the classroom (where they can find it)
• Students’ diaries/journals/audio diaries
• Give them feedback (more than correction)
• Be careful with homework – think how to present it (rather search/project/task like than exercise or a worksheet to fill in)
• Use readers, classroom library
• Encourage your students to make friends with other people using English for communication
• Record your students…and their progress
• Encourage students to use Google Docs as their online vocabulary notebooks
• Ask them to teach (what they have learned) someone else, family members, friends…
• Persuade your students to use their mobiles in English for a week or so… (switch to English where you can)

Useful web applications:
• Voicethread
• Vocaroo
• wikis
• Tutorials (http://www.teachertrainingvideos.com, http://technology4kids.pbworks.com/w/page/34922427/tutorials)
• Moodle
• Audio boo

Further reading/activities on Learners’ Autonomy:

o lecture by Leni Dam on learner autonomy – http://tinyurl.com/6kptuek
o 40 odd websites to learn outside the classroom – http://bit.ly/ij78i2
o A lesson by @sabridv where students take over the teaching for a day – http://bit.ly/gOuNa7
o http://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/Elp_tt/Results/DM_layout/00_10/06/06%20Supplementary%20text.pdf
o http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html
o I have also blogged about the stuff related to learners’ autonomy so if you are interested you can find it here: http://vladimiramichalkova.edublogs.org/2010/12/05/confidence-in-classroom/
o http://vladimiramichalkova.edublogs.org/2010/02/26/looking-for-motivation-outside-the-classroom/
o Learner Autonomy – a guide to developing learner responsibility (Agota Scharle and Anita Szabo), Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers
o Holec, one of the main sources of inspiration for LA http://tinyurl.com/6kerkl4
o some free books with audio recordings on http://bit.ly/7VlZnZ

Thanks for great, inspiring and motivational #ELTchat. You can join the chat on Twitter every Wednesday!

12 thoughts on “#ELTchat – Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time

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  2. Vladka,
    These are truly invaluable tips on how to promote learner autonomy. Unfortunately I missed this #ELTchat but from what I can see it was a great topic and it should be more widely discussed. However, I have some doubts about one or two thing which I hope you can help me out:
    -1 What’s a self-access box?
    -2 What’s a train dictionary use?

    Thanks and congrats on the great summary!

  3. Very interesting links and further reading suggestions. Thank you for sharing. M. (@ESOL_teacher)

  4. Hi Bruno,
    I am glad you find the summary useful. The chat was really great.
    Well, self-access box is a kind of box with materials, handouts, worksheets, whatever students may borrow or take home. It depends on your decision if they have to bring it back or can keep it.
    The second note about training dictionary use refers to teaching students how to use and work with dictionaries at home, how to get most ouf them.
    Hope it helped a bit. 🙂

  5. Nice summary. It was a fantastic #ELTChat with lots of fun ideas. Please invite all of your English learners to join a highly motivated group of learners from around the world. On MyEC we practise speaking, blogging, chatting, and listening to members of various levels from all over the world. English learners and teachers moderate the club and create their own challenges (such as video and photo challenges) and groups (such as a poetry group). It’s FREE. Teachers are also welcome to join and share ideas. http://my.englishclub.com

  6. Hi Tara,
    thank you for nice comment and great suggestion. I will definitely talk to my students about the club on Monday.
    Thanks again for inspiration!

  7. Vladka,

    Thanks for sharing this summary. It’s highly motivational for educators.
    Regards from Argentina,
    Marisa (@Mtranslator)

  8. Pingback: #ELTchat – 31,226 Tweets and counting! | Marisa Constantinides - TEFL Matters

  9. Pingback: #ELTchat – 31,226 Tweets and counting! « Teaching & Learning Foreign Languages

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