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Mapping Autonomy in Language Education

A Framework for Learner and Teacher Development

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Manuel Jiménez Raya, Terry Lamb and Flávia Vieira

This book proposes a comprehensible, context-sensitive and flexible framework for the development of pedagogy for autonomy in language education. The «framework» metaphor highlights the effort to identify structuring elements in the authors’ stance towards pedagogy for autonomy, which fall into three domains -the context, the learner, and the teacher. In each domain, the authors raise ethical, conceptual and practical issues that are crucial to their perspective and offer a basis for reflection on learner and teacher development towards learner and teacher autonomy. The book proposes a common definition for learner and teacher autonomy within a vision of education as transformation and empowerment. Pedagogy for autonomy is operationalized through a set of ten general principles.

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4. Principles for the development of pedagogy for autonomy

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4. Principles for the development of pedagogy for autonomy

Our major goal throughout this book has been to establish a flexible framework for the development of learner and teacher autonomy at a school level. We now present a set of general principles that seek to operationalise that framework by integrating and elaborating on aspects from the previous chapters, with a global focus on learning-centredness.

4.1 The need for a principled methodological framework

The implementation of learning-centred approaches in the classroom has led to a number of different interpretations with regard to their implications for teaching. They have been characterized either by the use of information from learners in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating language programmes, or by student involvement in the decision-making process or in the implementation phase itself (Nunan, 1988). At the same time, learning-centredness has also been interpreted as a trend aiming to improve the language learner’s ability to learn a language (Wenden, 2002). In general, learning-centred approaches focus on learners and on the learning process, which has important implications for the teacher’s role as a facilitator and monitor of pedagogical processes. To justify learner involvement some researchers draw on constructivism, pointing out that knowledge may only be partly transmissible, and that learners normally reinterpret the information received through their own mental schemata anyway. Learner involvement, however, also rests on a view of pedagogy based on democratic values. By exercising democracy in the classroom, learners will become better prepared for democratic citizenship...

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