Autonomous Learning in EFL in Japan

By Michael Herriman.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Pedagogy has recently focused much attention on teaching as the central element of the instructional situation. Where learning has been discussed, the emphasis has been more upon social and cognitive psychological aspects of the learner, considering factors such as modes of communication and the social structuring of the classroom. Without wishing to diminish the importance of these considerations, I want to plead for more attention to be given to learning and learner autonomy in EFL. My interest in this comes from having been involved in university teaching in Japan for 10 years and daily confronting teacher-reliant students. Most students I have encountered have no idea of the idea or possibility of taking responsibility for their own learning. In a sense they don’t know how to study. It can be justly claimed that the basis of EFL in Japan is instructional. It is profoundly a one-way process. To counter the reliance on pedagogy in EFL, I have tried to teach students to grasp the fundamental point that learning is an intentional activity, not a passive receptive one. In my paper I will give several examples of tasks that allow learners take responsibility away from the instructor and accept it themselves.

Keywords: Learner Autonomy in EFL, Ownership of Learning

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp.141-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 510.564KB).

Prof. Michael Herriman

Professor of English Language, Faculty of Foreign Languages, Department of English Communication, Nagoya University of Commerce and Business, Nagoya, Aichi, Japan

I teach English communication in an undergraduate and graduate program with 1,000 students. I am also in charge of all English language testing. Prior to this I was director of the English language centre at the University of Western Australia and coordinator of the Masters and PhD programs in Applied Linguistics. I did my PhD at Cornell university. My academic interests have been international and I have held visiting professorships at universities in England, Canada, Russia, Germany and Holland. I have also conducted research in Thailand and China. My main research has been in language acquisition, language testing, language policies and academic writing by university students. This latter work was funded by an Australian Research Council grant.

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