Autonomy in language learning, learning and life

Philip BENSON

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers

Abstract

The premise of this paper is that autonomy in language learning is an aspect of autonomy in learning, while autonomy in learning is, in turn, an aspect of personal autonomy, or autonomy in life. This premise is reflected in the arguments that we make for autonomy in language learning, which are often not specific to language learning, but applicable more generally to learning and life. But what exactly is the relationship between these three aspects of autonomy and what are the implications for educational practices within the domain of languages? Should we restrict our arguments to language learning or are there good reasons why we should link our work to broader issues of autonomy in education and life? I will argue two main points. First, productive arguments on the relationship between learner autonomy and personal autonomy follow from an assumption that personal autonomy is a learned attribute: learning, and learning languages, can be part and parcel of the process of developing personal autonomy. Second, although the arguments for autonomy in language learning depend in part on arguments for learner autonomy as a means of developing personal autonomy, there is also a need for language educators to ground arguments for autonomy more firmly in the domain of languages. This does not mean, however, that we should restrict our arguments to the contribution of autonomy to better language learning, but rather that we should pay more attention to the contribution of second and foreign language learning and use to the development of autonomous individuals in a globalized world.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Citation

Benson, P. (2011, January). Autonomy in language learning, learning and life. Paper presented at the International Bilingual Conference: Fostering Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Educational Practices: Languages and Beyond, Mumbai, India.

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