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The Vocabulary Learner Autonomy Education Essay


The more words learners there are, the greater questions about how to learn effectively are raised. A whole lot of studies and researches have been being completed to get the answers. There are numerous arguments but almost of researchers give attention to autonomy, especially learner autonomy as a key of this point. In my own essay, I will summarize the article of David Little, and i quickly give some opinions on Little's article and compare his viewpoint with others'. Finally, I'd like to give my advice, which originates from what I've read in this specific article. They are simply some conditions that I want to know whenever i research autonomy.


The idea of autonomy started in the first 1980s, associating with adult education and self-access learning systems, and gradually became the main discussion of vocabulary teaching under the impact of learner-centered theories of education. In this specific article, David Little purposes to restate an understanding of language learner autonomy in which the development of learner autonomy and the development of target terms proficiency are fully integrated with each other. It is the theory of language learner autonomy that implicates what's essential to do so as to develop autonomous terms learners and provides us with requirements by which to judge our efforts.

The ability for taking charge of one's own learning

Little uses Holec's price to make clear his view and determine the fact of learner autonomy as the capability to take charge of your respective own learning', which is acquired the natural way or formal learning, i. e. in a systematic, deliberate way (Holec, 1981). So, adult terms learning should have an instrumental goal and adult dialect programmes should be capable of meeting the specific communicative needs of individual learners. For Holec, the concept of learner autonomy has repercussions for both the manner in which learning is prepared and the kind of knowledge that is purchased.

Autonomy, competence, relatedness and intersubjectivity

To review social-psychological and cognitive proof in favor of promoting learner autonomy, Little mentions unaggressive role at university or not being ready for interpersonal responsibility as some examples that make learners reluctant for taking charge of their own learning. Besides, he distinguishes some notions such as independence and autonomy, the necessity for relatedness and autonomy and also described competence and intersubjectivity in the relationship with learner autonomy.

Constructivist learning theories

According to constructivist epistemologies, knowledge is not really a set of universal 'truths' but a couple of 'working hypotheses' (Airasian & Walsh, 1997:445) that are always at the mercy of refinement, change, rejection and replacement. It means that we develop our knowledge by delivering what we know into relationship with the new information, ideas and experience we face. Besides, adopting pedagogical procedures that are exploratory, interpretative and participatory gives learners a capacity for 'reflective treatment' to become an autonomous member of the culture-creating community.

Theories of language learning

There are some theories of language learning such as constructivist and innatist ideas, which all highlight the necessity for input, interaction and end result and assign words as a key role in vocabulary learning. Just how children learn and use terminology is compared with the process of terminology acquisition of learners. Furthermore, Vygotsky's notion of an zone of proximal development (ZPD) and his view of the partnership between language and thought, speaking and pondering are used to investigate the characteristic of language learner autonomy.

Pedagogical Implications

Little proposes some interacting key points such as learner involvement, learner representation and target dialect use that govern the success in second and spanish coaching. The learner participation requires regular attention from the beginning to the finish of the span of learning, which means that the learners have to take part in the training process, share responsibility with the teacher for setting the learning agenda, select learning activities and materials The learner representation requires the educator to embrace 'reflective treatment' as an integral feature of the teaching-learning process, which depends upon leaner 's skill and classroom's communication. The prospective dialect use is the medium by which all classroom activities are conducted, organizational and reflective as well as communicative. Little also mentions the top role of group work and the correct use of writing making learner much easier to acquire a second or foreign language.


As Little mentions in this article, the idea of learner autonomy began in the early 1980s. Since that calendar year, there were many studies upon this issue. Benson and Voller (1997) raise questions, "What is the theoretical basis for prevailing principles of autonomy and self-reliance? Is autonomy a culturally-specific, Traditional western concept? What is the role of self-access and self-instruction to advertise autonomy? What's the role of the educator in autonomous dialect learning?" (p. 270) That's what I am going to within part III and IV of this essay.

I am really considering this content of Little anticipated to his analysis of autonomy and learner autonomy, which is not simply a theory, but very functional.

What is learner autonomy?

Like Little's knowledge of autonomy, Benson (2006) defines people's autonomy as 'taking more control over their lives - independently and collectively' and autonomy can also be described as a capacity to take fee of, or take responsibility for, or control. Especially, he compares autonomy and autonomous learning with 'self-instruction', 'self-access', 'self-study', 'self-education', 'out-of-class learning' or 'distance learning', that are basically described various ways and examples of learning by the learners themselves, in the meantime autonomy identifies abilities and behaviour. This aspect is also arranged by Nicolaides (2007), as he mentions autonomy is a wider strategy which can be developed through different paths matching to learners' needs, styles and context in which they are simply put in and that involves a representation over one's own values and responsibility over learning. So, we can understand autonomy in dialect learning as determination for taking more control over the purposes why we learn languages and the ways that they learn them.

However, Perhaps that learner autonomy means the independence of learning. It is the freedom from learners themselves, to review and conquer any limitations to attain their expected concentrate on. Being some kind of independence, learner autonomy can take place everywhere you go inside or outside the classroom and has both individual and social sizes. In other words, it is a process that is present along with learners. Therefore, learners are more in charge of their own learning when they have some idea of what, why, and exactly how they want to learn. They must take at least some of the initiatives that give shape and way to the learning process, and must promote in monitoring improvement and evaluating the level to which learning goals are achieved. (Little and Dam, 1998)

The role of learner autonomy

Why is learner autonomy important? Since it participates solving the problem of learner determination. Whenever a learner has motivation to study, he will be responsibility for his own learning and he can certainly develop the abilities of reflective self-management in learning and success in learning will bolster his intrinsic determination (Smith 2004). Little (2005) features that self-management and the generally proactive way can make autonomous learners become encouraged learners. To Dafei (2007), there is a consensus that the practice of learner autonomy requires insight, a positive attitude, a convenience of reflection, and a readiness to be proactive in self-management and in discussion with others.

I am really interested in Little's idea in this article, "it is unreasonable to expect professors to foster the development of autonomy in their learners if they themselves do not really know what it is to be an autonomous learner. " Frankly, a learner has to be autonomous, quite simply, he must define his aims, understand his role in acquisition new knowledge, find his difficulties and find out alternatives, self-practice and make an effort to apply his theoretical lessons into true to life (Nicolaides 2003). In this case, the instructor may play a role as a helper, a supporter or an adviser to help him find his own way to success. But, if the students can appraise their own performance effectively enough, they will not have to depend completely on the views of teachers and at the same time they will be able to make teachers alert to their specific learning needs. (Little, 2005)

Little (2005) added that the introduction of the capacity for independent terms learning is an instrument to market learner autonomy. We can see that whenever we live self-directed in doing anything, it automatically entails taking responsibility for the aims of learning, self-monitoring, self-assessing, and taking a dynamic role in learning.

However, sometimes, we make a mistake when misunderstanding learner autonomy with learner isolation. It really is assumed that the self-reliance that we exercise through our developed capacity for autonomous behavior is always conditioned and constrained by our inescapable interdependence. It means that, we necessarily rely upon others even when we exercise our independence. (Little, 2005)

Finch (2002) considers another take on the classroom, that allows us to include emotions, intuitions and attitudes as valid factors in the training environment. He assumes that every learner differs, and exactly what has an effect on the learner can create unpredictable effects. In this example, the learning environment can be seen as a collection of learning opportunities which is used in different ways by different students. It really is proven that, there a wide range of objective conditions that can distract or have an effect on autonomy learners, not only the teachers or learners themselves. In order that, "we cannot teach students to be more autonomous. . . (but) we can create the atmosphere and conditions where they will feel encouraged to build up the autonomy they curently have" (Benson, 2003, p. 305).

A question is lifted by Dafei (2007) but there has not been satisfied answers, it is if the development of autonomy signifies better vocabulary learning. "Lately, however, the contribution of procedures associated with autonomy to language skills has become a critical issue for two reasons. One reason is that researchers are increasingly beginning to recognize that there can be an intimate romantic relationship between autonomy and effective learning. However, this marriage has typically been explored at the amount of theory, and lacks significant empirical support. Another reason is that world-wide concern with accountability in education is increasingly obliging teachers to demonstrate the potency of their practices in terms of proficiency profits. If experts can show that tactics aiming at increased autonomy also lead to higher proficiency, in whatever terms this is measured, their arguments will be strengthened. " (Dafei, 2007, p. 8)

Although autonomy may in the end lead to higher proficiency in words use, we cannot really know whether autonomous learners learning more than non-autonomous learner is more lucrative. In my school, after a year educating a collegiate course, I am completely shocked because there are in least 10 hard-working students whom I highly appreciate (due to their activeness and attention in school) have markings under 5 in their last test. For me, these are autonomous learners however they have not found an efficient way of learning or they do not have a good aptitude for British. It seems to be ridiculous, but for many Vietnamese learners, they can review any topics but British although they aren't lazy.


As we can see, there are numerous relevant things that entail in learner autonomy, in this essay, I will speak about two more things: The social cultural track record (or sociopsychology) and the role of educator autonomy.

The Sociocultural background

Smith (2004) considers that lots of students show little curiosity about either words learning or in foreign cultures. They appear not to be eager to review other cultures as everybody knows learning a terminology is learning a fresh culture, new people and new culture. Especially, in this period, with the globalization, people become nearer and cross-culture is seen everywhere. And, if we find out about a culture, we will understand its terminology more clearly and find it easily.

Smith (2004) views institution as a prep forever, not life itself, so that "many professors tend to point out facts about the major English-speaking cultures, specifically the united kingdom and the USA. a preparation for later, life-long learning in the sociocultural website. " (p240). That is why we need a pedagogy for autonomy to build up intercultural skills. If we do this effectively, we can develop the language capabilities of learners. But, how can we engage learners in 'subjective' cross-cultural experience, when in university contexts, they seem to be to have no or limited opportunities interact with other cultures, so when some students may appear unwilling to look at an 'intercultural individuality?

According to Smith (2004), it is difficult to encourage learners to go beyond their existing cultural boundaries while they stay fixed within countrywide or local identities because to be in a monocultural environment rather than immersed in another culture. In order that, the role of the teacher is to provide his learners an keen frame of mind to new experience and ideas and in relation to other societies. It is a success when teachers can give a hand showing learners fascination with getting to know other cultures and take steps to learn about them.

Along with matters, materials like books, media, internet resources related to learners' interest and in the class room environment, learners will gradually get acquainted with social-psychological and cultural issues as directed by Smith (2004). However, we need to notice some ethnic points that aren't ideal with Asian people, help students realize and utilize them in right situation, as we usually say, "integrate but not dissolve".

The role of educator autonomy

Smith (2000) supposes teacher autonomy is the type of autonomy mainly occurring when they try to understand and guide students and, finally when they take part in investigative activities, on the other hand Vieira (2007) highlights quite role of educator autonomy that unless we put professors centre-stage, we cannot win any results. Teachers, an integral link of an string of teaching-learning process, need to mirror how to provide their students with appropriate activities, material and principles to face up to the mental and sociocultural needs of terminology learning.

Due to Smith (2003), in order to promote learner autonomy, teachers may need to involve some different sizes of tutor autonomy, which were emphasized by different authors like a capacity for self-directed teaching, freedom from control over their coaching and a convenience of self-directed teacher-learning. Little (2005) give some bits of advice to instructors: they should use the target language as the preferred medium of class communication and require the same with their learners; help their learners to create their own learning targets and choose their own learning activities, subject them to debate, require their learners to recognize individual goals but go after them through collaborative work in small groups and try to keep a written record of these learning - programs of lessons and tasks, lists of useful vocabulary, whatever texts they themselves produce.

Nicolaides (2007) areas that instructor autonomy is different from the learner's because being truly a teacher implies more exploration of selections and alternatives and face more external pressures. Besides, professor autonomy will involve not only linguistic competence, but also a didactic and pedagogical one. However, it has also been pressured by Smith (2000) that learner autonomy and instructor autonomy are interdependent, and that teachers wishing to promote better learner autonomy need to "focus on themselves", reflecting on their own beliefs, practices, activities and anticipations of the teaching/learning situation. It is proved that teachers should stand at the area of learners to see just one facet of their lives more obviously in order to discover their interior thoughts and thoughts, which permits us to look at useful materials and methods (Smith 2004).

In addition, Finch (2002) shows that the "seeds" of such a process already can be found in the language classroom, and that teachers can therefore identify and encourage the autonomous school room behavior of their students. Among the important things is using words book to transfer new standard knowledge from the curriculum to learners. However, sometimes, professors are free from it, quite simply, they can use many material outside but words book. In the event that educator is the person who produces the test for his category, he usually uses only the shape, not this content of the syllabus. By this way, the instructor can concentrate on learners' needs and reactions, help them plan latest media and take bill of their own learning. Learners will mirror and self-evaluate and put an target by themselves. If you ask me, whenever I coach some classes that I could produce studies by myself, I always feel comfortable and offer as many up to date material and information as easy for my students. I do not have to be anxious about timetable or completing my programmes on time, although I really do not ignore word book.

On the other palm, I think the teacher should do some research on leaners to learn their demands. It will help us understand the truth of our class, our ability and errors, the attitude of the leaners towards us and materials I review my students 3 x a year to comprehend my students' needs, their remark on my teaching and on the material. This can help me so much to get effective coaching.


In this paper, I have attemptedto give my thoughts on what I am thinking about, increased my questions and attempted to answers in my own ability. However, I think that, we still have many issues associated with learner autonomy to discuss. Nowadays, we use the term 'learner-centered' more often, but sometimes your investment important role of teachers. Whatever method is use, the teacher always play the decisive role in the process of teaching-learning.

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