written by Thomas Simon
Learner Autonomy -
A guide to developing learner responsibility is
a practical approach to this essential area that can
get overlooked. Quite a lot of the time we are so busy
just getting through the next units in the coursebook
that we forget about incorporating autonomy ideas, &
then at other times we have students that are resistant
to the ideas, feeling that it is up to the teacher to
do the work. This book takes a sensible & gradual
approach to learner autonomy in the classroom.
Part 1 of the book serves
as a good introduction to autonomy. A distinction is
made between the responsible learner & the autonomous
learner, the first coming before the latter. The why,
how & stages in developing learner responsibility
then follow. The progression from awareness raising
to changing attitude to transferring the roles is the
basic overall organisation of the book. A short succinct
Part 2 of the book is
the practical. Each activity begins with the level,
the main goals, the language focus, preparation &
any relevant note. Variations of activities are also
given at the end of each activity.
The first section here
is 'Raising awareness'; finding out about the students,
motivation, learning strategies, community building
& self-monitoring. The activities here aim to open
'the learners' eyes to new ways of thinking about their
learning'. There are some awareness-raising questionnaires
for immediate use, looking at past & present learning
practice, as well as activities that ask for the learners
to reflect on where they are with their leaning.
The following section
is 'Changing attitudes'; motivation, learning strategies,
community building & self-monitoring. The activities
in this section are an extension of the previous one,
the awareness raising, & designed on the premise
that an degree of awareness has already been developed.
In both of the two practical
sections above there are 'Community building' activities
that both build on autonomy & serve to develop the
The last section is 'Transferring
roles'. This asks the learner to take on roles in the
teaching-learning process. The activities range from
asking learners to carry out some of the classroom management
tasks to the more teacher knowledge tasks such as correction.
The bibliographies at
the end of each section are very useful in following
up on the different areas.
All in all, Learner
Autonomy is a solid book of activities for the busy
teacher. It is clearly written by experienced, practising
teachers who have carried out the activities they talk
about. Picking this up at regular intervals would allow
the activities to be slotted in with the existing syllabus.