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Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Higher Education: Perspectives from Modern Language Teaching


Edited By Manuel Jiménez Raya, José Javier Martos Ramos and Maria Giovanna Tassinari

This volume seeks to foster the development of teacher and learner autonomy in language learning in higher education. It pools the insights and experiences of a group of international researchers who present their reflections and research on different aspects of autonomy and related issues. Although autonomy is acknowledged as one of the main goals of education, in higher education the need for accountability and standardisation of learning outcomes may constitute external limitations to its development. In order to overcome teaching traditions and mainstream academic culture, teachers may need to reorient themselves and face the challenge of a substantial change involving their own and their learners’ beliefs, their practice and their role in the institution.

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A Self-Access Language Centre for Learners and Teachers: Promoting Autonomy in Higher Education (Maria Giovanna Tassinari)


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Maria Giovanna Tassinari

(Free University of Berlin, Germany)

A Self-Access Language Centre for Learners and Teachers: Promoting Autonomy in Higher Education

1.    Introduction

For decades self-access language centres (SAC) have been part of language learning environments, mostly (but not exclusively) in higher education contexts. Although their function may vary from institution to institution, being either integrated in the curriculum or an additional facility outside the curriculum, SACs are places dedicated to learners, providing them with a learning space, resources and support for (self-directed) language learning. In some institutions teachers play a role in SACs, as managers, tutors or language advisors; in others they are not directly involved in the SAC facilities. However, they are not generally thought of as a target (audience) while conceiving the SAC itself.

In the present chapter, I will describe in a reflective case study my experience as a manager of the Centre for Independent Language Learning (CILL) at the Freie Universität Berlin, a SAC which, beside at supporting learners in their autonomous learning process, explicitly aims at helping teachers in developing their own and their learners’ autonomy. Developing autonomy is a challenging process and requires new orientation both from learners and teachers (Kelly, 1996; Everhard, 2012); therefore, supporting teachers in this process is crucial in order to contribute to establishing a learning and teaching culture based on autonomy, critical reflection and empowerment of all the actors of the learning and...

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