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Autonomy, Agency and Identity in Foreign Language Learning and Teaching


Jing Huang

This book offers readers a basic grounding in autonomy and related concepts of agency and identity in foreign language education. The ethnographic study explores how autonomy develops within the long-term process of EFL and TEFL learning in a Chinese social and institutional context. Through examining the general characteristics and patterns within the long-term development of autonomy among the students, the enquiry puts under close scrutiny a number of fundamental issues in autonomy research and practice, such as reactive autonomy in relation to proactive autonomy, personal autonomy in relation to learner autonomy, other-control in relation to self-control in the «multi-control model» of autonomy, and also issues of autonomy in the transition from foreign language learning to foreign language teaching. The study presents the more «describable» concepts of identity and agency to investigate the development of autonomy in foreign language learning and teaching and explores their complex interrelationships. The book finally highlights major contributions and limitations of the investigation, and provides implications and suggestions for theory, pedagogy and research.


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8. Overall discussion 299


8. Overall discussion 8.1. Introduction This chapter brings together findings and issues reported in Chapters 4-7 to explore the two broad questions of the study raised in Chapter 1: (1) How do students develop their autonomy within the long-term process of EFL and TEFL learning? (2) What is the relationship among agency, identity, and autonomy in the two processes of EFL and TEFL learning in the Chinese EFL context? Chapter 4 has addressed the two questions broadly through out- lining students’ developmental patterns and characteristics, and their general pathways towards autonomy in two interrelated process of EFL and TEFL learning over four years in university. Chapters 5-7 have provided more evidence to substantiate specific issues and themes emerging from Chapter 4: Chapter 5 has looked at learners’ definitions and understandings of teacher-learner role relationships to explore insider perspectives (mainly learners’ perspectives in this study) on important educational issues involving the development of autonomy in the Chinese foreign language context; Chapter 6 has ex- amined their views and attitudes towards the university learning envi- ronment to investigate their own interpretations of relevant teaching and learning issues, and the contextual influences on the development of autonomy in the particular social and institutional context; lastly, Chapter 7 is concerned with the issues of autonomy in the transition from foreign language learner to foreign language teacher. Based on the findings reported in these chapters, the present chapter explores three dominant, interrelated themes: contextual, so- cio-psychological influences on the development of autonomy, and learner readiness...

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