Check it later

  • Category:
  • Document type:
  • Level:
    High School
  • Page:
  • Words:

Examine the role self- study plays in language learning. Consider at least two different theories related to this and suggest what implications there are for the management of language courses in a learning context of your choice.

Researchers have increasingly examined the role of self study in language learning over the last decades. One aspect of self study is Autonomy. Autonomy or Autonomous learning has been defined by so many researchers .The original definition of Autonomy is by Holec (1981, cited in little, 1991, p7) as “the ability to take charge of one’s learning”. This means that all the aspect of learning procedure is entirely the learner’s responsibility. Brooke (2013,p 572) states that “The origin of autonomy in education is therefore inextricably linked with notions of interpersonal relations; social responsibility and activity; belief in communitarian values; and freedom of choice and expression” This shows how autonomy is relevant to adult learning and how it promotes a positive social change for the learner .This essay will argue that autonomous learning plays a positive role in language learning due to technology and new perceptions about teaching English, especially for adult learners in context. This essay will discuss the role of self-study in language learning among adult learners. The discussion is based on two theories, the Self Determinate Theory and the Autonomous Inquiry Learning theory. Further, give the analysis of the implications of the two theories to the management of language course in learning for adult learning.

Self determinate theory (SDT) is one of the most significant theories in the field of Autonomy learning. This theory relies on internal rather than external motivators and rewards, which increases the learners pleasure and pragmatic understanding of what they are learning (Brooke, 2013). Moreover, this theory recognizes that learners are not passive but creative and curious and eager to learn. Brooke (2013) recognises the fact that the inherent necessity to learn and advance without external control by living is a natural it is manifested through the vital, essential psychological requisite for autonomy. This explains why autonomous learning is inward driven and is determine by the desires of the learner. On the other hand, Deci and Ryan (1985, p245 cited in Brook 2013, p.573) state that “Intrinsic motivation [in contrast to extrinsic] is in evidence whenever students‟ natural curiosity and interest energies their learning”. In addition, Brooke (2013, p 573) note that “In its truest form, the learning experience is its own reward.” This means that the individual gains pleasure and motivation from learning, not from anything external such as marks or certificates. It can be clearly seen that self determine theory (SDT) does play an important role in learning and inner motivation is enhances the student’s ability to learn language with great passion.

Another theory in the field of the autonomous learning is the Autonomous Inquiry Learning. “Autonomous inquiry learning is the synthetic practice, which mainly depends on learners to gain experience, renovate and create knowledge and to solve the problems with the acquired knowledge by themselves. Through active inquiry, learners can activate and maintain the learning motivations so that the output can be acquired.” (Zhang, 2014 p. 84).Autonomous learning enables the learner to be the controller of the learning process. Zhang (2014) points out that with AIL the learner is in the centre of the learning process as an active rather than passive element. Learning is a result of the integration of “context, collaboration, communication and meaning construction”. This means that the learner is the controller for all the four areas including the context in which the learning can take place i.e. in a classroom or on a bus due to mobile technologies.

Learner is pushed to increase dialogue and interaction to learn, hence a good use of blogs and online discussions rather than rote learning (Zhang, 2014). Ames indicates that goal orientation is one’s consciousness of work, learning, performance and achievement, which can be viewed as an integrant of self-efficacy, attribution and emotion (Ames, 1992 cited in Zhang 2014).This explain more how learner is the rein in the learning . Further, Ames states that learner must fulfil their learning, their ego, and the external needs such as marks and fulfil their emotional need from disappointment to pleasures in learning and pride achievement (Ames, 1992 cited in Zhang 2014). Learners prioritize their goals by putting the goal of learning first then extrinsic goal second such as marks or rewards.

The implications of these theories on learning and teaching have been quite large. Most institutions are conservative in regards to applying full autonomous learning curriculum. As this could mean that institutions are rendered void as curriculum is in the hands of the students (Blaschke, 2012). So institutions have implemented hybrid curriculums that include some traditional and some autonomous learning elements. Blaschke (2012) recognises that students actually move through levels of autonomy and this depends on their level of capability and confidence. Blaschke (2012) recognises that pedagogy, the traditional learning theory, fully teacher controlled, is for the less mature learner. Maturity of the learner is dependent on their understanding of learning and the learning process. Heutagogy is the level where the student is confident because they know the learning process and their capability. So institutions need to make sure that they accommodate for students at any one of these levels. If the institution begins autonomous learning from the beginning of the students learning experience they can help move the student from pedagogy to Heutagogy step by step.

In addition, Heutegogy in institutions is not able to be implemented in full. However, they do use a blended learning approach and include elements. Firstly students are presented with the opportunity to define their learning path through learning contracts which are presented to students at the beginning of their study in the institution. This is like a contract allowing the student to declare their level of contribution and accountability for their learning. In turn the teachers’ role is clearly defined as facilitator and guide (Bleshke, 2012). Some institutions are also implementing flexible assessment where students have the chance to negotiate and define how they will be assessed. This is not so common as yet. There is need therefore for the teachers to guide students in defining their learning purpose in order to embrace positive learning culture.

Students are often brought together after their initial experience with the content. Through classroom based changes, students are introduced to the content in class, given, material or guidance as to where to go to learn. Students are then allowed the time for self-Learning through self-learning centres and online learning systems such as internet sites and even practical experience such as blogging and online discussions. Once students define their understanding they are brought together again in a class, either physical or virtual, to discuss and be challenged about their knowledge and understanding by teacher and peers (Bleshke, 2012; Benson, 2012). It can be seen the system being adopted here is influenced by the pedagogy and heurtagogy hierarchy. Even elements of AIL is evident as students are asked to inquire about the content on their own. So institutions seem to have embraced the idea that students need gradual learning to learn the process of learning (self determinate) and understand their capability.

The Autonomous Inquiry Theory seeks to identify the attitudes of the students and what motivates them to improve their performance. Due to high enrolments in institutions and adoption of new teaching models for autonomous learning, it implies that colleges have to reorganize the existing patterns of teaching like the teacher-centred pattern of language teaching through the introduction of teaching models which are incorporated with multimedia technology and access to learning sites via the internet (Chen ,2012). In other words, the theory tries to identify the factors that drive learners to do well in their learning especially language learning.

Adoption of CALL is instrumental to mastery of English language by learners. According to Liu (2014) Computer-Assisted Language Learning CALL can assist in solving some problems associated with English language learning. In china for instance, research shows that CALL is favourable among students and inefficiency of learning strategies as well as listening and oral in abilities can be solved by adopting and using CALL. Since autonomous learning does not necessarily take place in a classroom, it implies that there is need for the language course managers in the context of teaching adult learners to create adequate self access centres. The need for this is evident from the case study of China by Liu, (2004), whereby both teachers and students accept the fact that computer-based learning improves autonomous learning.

There is need to create enough self-study centres. As a part of the management for language course in learning, institutions need to invest more in facilitating such self-study learning centres so that learners in adult teaching context can perfect their language skills. The centres should be equipped with stable internet connection so that learners can use them for personal research with regard to learning of English language. This does not mean that the language teachers-language course managers- should stop offering their teaching techniques in a classroom context. Self-study centres help students research by their own and at the comfort of their personal schedules.

The analysis also shows that cultural and social structures of a school matters as they impact on the professional and classroom knowledge of the language teacher. This implies that language course managers for adult teaching can use self-study as a foundation for pursuing shared enterprises. Feldman (2005) also notes the need for generative inquiry into how teaching and learning is conducted so as to trigger conversation concerning teacher knowledge, curriculum and policy. As a manager in language teaching for adult learners, it implies that self-study should be used to challenge the efficiency of existing curriculum and policies and how they hinder or facilitate autonomous learning.

Language managers for adult learning are also expected to be the agents of positive change in autonomous learning. They are expected to create a conducive environment for autonomous learning by encouraging adult learners that education is there to promote a positive social change(Brooke, 2013 ), and that their learning of English learning will be of great importance in the corporate world. Chen (2012) also recognizes the fact that the objective of the College English Curriculum is to develop the ability of the students fluently use English language in all-round ways, more so in speaking and listening. This means that teachers are the facilitators of autonomous learning.

In addition, the institutions are working with teachers to improve teacher learning themselves. Teachers are being trained to be more autonomous, which has been proven to make them better, more flexible and happier teachers (Benson 2006). Autonomous teachers mean they have more involvement in decisions at their institution, are given room to be creative in what and how they teach and in turn teachers become more involved and in engaged with what they are teaching (Chen 2012).


In conclusion, the autonomous learning can improve the understanding of English language significantly if a favourable learning environment is given to the learner (both classroom and outside classroom). Autonomous learning among adult learners can not only improve English language performance through teacher-centred approach but also through the adoption of Computer assisted learning. The duration taken by the learner to cultivate a good spirit, interest and positive perception towards autonomous learning is highly dependent on the surrounding environment. However, there is need for the management for language course for the adult’s learner to keep a steady pace with technology and its application on autonomous learning. This is why institutions need to create adequate self study centres to accommodate the future demands of the new technology.


Benson, P. (2011). Autonomy in language learning, learning and life. In Plenary paper at the International Bilingual Conference. Ruia College, University of Mumbai, Mumbai (pp. 6-7).

Blaschke, L. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(1), 56-71.

Brooke, M. (2013). Facilitating the Development of the Autonomous Language Learner Using Online Virtual Learning Environments. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 3(4), 572-580.

Chen, N. (2012). Autonomous learning in the context of computer-based multimedia college English teaching and learning. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 2(12), 2541-2547.

Feldman, P. (2005). Self-Study Dilemmas and Delights of Professional Learning: A Narrative Perspective. English teaching: practice and critique, 4(2), 46-61.

Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy: Definitions, issues and problems. Authentik Language Learning Resources Limited.

Liu, X. (2014). Students’ Perceptions of Autonomous Out-of-Class Learning through the Use of Computers. English Language Teaching, 7(4), p74.

Lu, J. (2012) .Autonomous Learning in Tertiary University EFL Teaching and Learning of the People’s Republic of China. International Journal of Information and Education Technology, 2(6),608-611

Zhang, J. (2014). Chinese Students’ Goal Orientation in English Learning: A Study Based on Autonomous Inquiry Model. English Language Teaching, 7(2), p84.