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Challenges in Teacher Development: Learner Autonomy and Intercultural Competence

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Edited By Manuel Jiménez Raya and Lies Sercu

No one graduating from school can any longer have the illusion to have completed her or his learning career, nor to live in a monocultural society. Quite on the contrary, learning will be the major business of the professional future of anyone who now leaves school. Moreover, the multicultural nature of current societies constitutes an additional major dimension of any person’s life and requires growth in intercultural competence along the lifespan. This is a book, in which various pathways toward the development of teacher competencies in promoting learner autonomy and intercultural competence are discussed. It focuses on the potential of action research, self-reflection, constructive learning and self-report activities for teacher development, offering a number of more theoretically oriented chapters on teacher beliefs, intercultural competence, learner autonomy, action research and eLearning. It also documents a number of case studies in which teacher educators have tried to support teachers in exploring and, possibly, developing their own attitudes and beliefs regarding learner autonomy and intercultural competence, and regarding ways to promote learner autonomy and foster intercultural competence amongst their students and in themselves as professionals in teaching.

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Adri Elsen and Oliver St.-John: Learner autonomy and intercultural competence

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Learner autonomy and intercultural competence O. Introduction Adri E lsen, Radboud Univers ity Nijmegen O l iver St. lohn, University of Gävle This chapter aims to define the two central constructs of this book, namely 'Iearner autonomy' and ' intercultural competence ' . It consists of five sections . Sections 1 and 2 focus on learner autonomy (LA). The first section seeks to de­ fine LA by tracing the way the construct has come to be understood, while the second discusses three main reasons why LA is considered important in foreign language (FL) learning settings . Sections 3 and 4 deal with the 'what' and 'why' of intercultural competence (IC). What does the term mean and why is intercultural learning prominent among the teaching goals of many national FL syl labuses today? The final section seeks to outl ine a pedagogical framework for developing LA and IC based on the preceding discuss ion and research work in the field . AIthough the pedagogical ideas presented in th is section give more fo­ cus to IC, it is argued that learn ing processes towards both capacities not only complement each other close ly, but require each other 's aid for successful devel­ opment. 1. What is learner autonomy? Defining ' Iearner autonomy' is no easy matter. When foreign language learners, teachers, teacher educators or researchers are asked what learner autonomy is, one is l ikely to get a variety of response . Some answers might echo aspects such as the "abi l ity to take...

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