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Learner Autonomy in Language Learning: Defining the Field and Effecting Change

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Edited By Sara Cotterall and David A. Crabbe

This book is a collection of papers that explores the notion of learner autonomy and the problem of helping language learners to manage their learning effectively. The first part of the book deals with issues of definition: what is the cognitive base for autonomous learning behaviour and how is this mediated by social and cultural expectations of a learner's role? The second part reports on experiences of working with learners and with teachers to promote learner autonomy. In working with learners, the focus is on language learning strategies and how strategic learning might be developed through strategy training, materials design, reflection and counselling. In working with teachers, the focus is on bringing about change in traditional perspectives on the roles of learners and teachers within education systems.

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Part II: Effecting Change 41

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Part II Effecting Change This page intentionally left blank WORKING WITH GROUPS INTRODUCTION Sara Catterall Practitioners in the field of learner autonomy are faced with what might at first sight appear to be a paradox. They are concerned with intervening in an individual's learning in order to enhance the individual's ability to learn without intervention. The options for intervening can be identified by considering the dimensions of autonomy discussed in the Introduction to Part I. Some researchers choose to focus on cognitive elements, such as language learning tactics and language awareness, and others on social elements, such as roles or patterns of interaction. The contributions in this section are united by a concern with effecting change in the behaviour of individuals who are learning in group settings. Such interventions tend to focus on behaviour that might be seen as universal. This does not imply that these authors are blind to the influence of context, or indeed of individual differences; rather, their focus reflects an interest in identifying solutions which apply to more than one context. The premise underlying their work is that certain learning behaviour can be associated with control over the learning process. Steven McDonough opens the discussion by considering our current state of knowledge on strategies for language learning. Andrew Cohen, and David Nunan, Jose Lai and Ken Keobke focus on selected learner strategies. Michael Mtiller-Verweyen concentrates on the design of learning materials to promote strategic competence in managing the learning process. The paper by Leni Dam and...

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