Approaches To Learner Autonomy

By Jill Robbins
ABSTRACT

 

This paper reports on a survey of Japanese and Western English teachers in Japan. The teachers were asked about their views and beliefs on language teacher and student roles and on their encouragement of learner autonomy. They were also asked to evaluate the use of specific language learning strategies by Japanese learners. Results indicated that the Japanese teachers expressed more concern for the development of a comfortable interpersonal relationship between students and teachers, while Western teachers focussed on the academic
aspects of their teaching. Both groups reported teaching some language learning strategies, with Japanese teachers reporting a lower number of strategies taught, and less explicit methods of teaching strategies. Neither group wholeheartedly
promoted self monitoring or self-evaluation. Thanks to their experience in an immersion language learning situation, Western teachers seemed to have more confidence in applying and in explicitly encouraging students to use a wide variety of strategies.

INTRODUCTION

This paper is a report on a survey of teachers in Japan on the ways that
Japanese and Western teachers foster learner autonomy. The survey was planned
and conducted by the author and Anna Uhl Chamot as a means of clarifying
issues related to our work in teacher development within Japan. We have both
led seminars on language learning strategies (LLS) instruction and wanted
to know more about the beliefs and practices of teachers who had studied
in that field.

This survey was begun with the intent of describing and comparing the beliefs
of teachers from two educational and cultural systems, Japanese and Western,
about learner autonomy and practices related to instruction in LLS. This
survey project addresses the role of LLS as tools for independent learning
in an environment where such learning is necessary for a satisfactory level
of progress. The frequency of using LLS has been shown to be positively related
to learners’ self-efficacy, a construct used to measure the confidence a
learner has in approaching language learning tasks (Chamot, Robbins, & El-Dinary,
1993)
. Teachers of English in Japan are well acquainted with the need
for greater confidence and autonomy among their students, and have investigated
the strategies instruction literature with that in mind. Research on LLS
instruction has moved from identifying effective strategies, or what ‘good’
learners do, to investigating how learners develop their use of strategies
and how teachers are finding the means to encourage independent learning
along with strategies use. (Chamot, Barnhardt, El-Dinary
& Robbins, 1999)

PROCEDURES

The survey (Appendix A) consisted of 14 structured
interviews, conducted during 1997 and 1998. The questions were divided into
four sections; listed below.

Part A – Background Information
Part B – Teacher Role

Part C – Student Role

  • What good students should do

Part D – Language Learning Strategies and Learner Autonomy

Part A: Background Information

The teachers interviewed were seven Japanese and seven Western EFL teachers
who work in Japan. The teachers taught at all levels from pre-school to adult.
Their teaching experience ranged from 4 years to 22 years and on the average
they had taught for 14 years.

Part B: The Teacher’s Role

The answers to item 12, “Describe some things a good language teacher should
do” revealed that Japanese teachers (JTs) focused more on the interpersonal
aspects of teaching. They valued having a good relationship with their students
and through that activating the students to learn. They also wanted to promote
a strong motivation. They said teachers should have a friendly character,
and that they should encourage students to study on their own. In the academic
area, JTs felt that continuing to study a language after becoming a teacher
is important for staying in touch with the problems of their students.

JT-A : “We should be very sensitive to what students think when we stimulate. It’s very important to keep their motivations.”

JT-B: [A good language teacher should] “Motivate students so they will want to study more; have good English proficiency & a very friendly character and attitude toward students.”

Western teachers (WTs), in comparison, focused on academic aspects of the
relationship between themselves and their students. They said it was important
to provide students with comprehensible input and opportunities for interaction
in the target language. WTs believe that teachers should keep up with the
latest developments in the field and know the students’ needs and the course’s
place in the curriculum.

WT: “They [good teachers] know their students’ level and objectives and so on. They have to know the practical literature. . . .I continue to learn from the practical literature, and I think a teacher should be aware of that and constantly be going to conferences, you know, getting new ideas.
To understand the curriculum. We don’t just teach a course, we’re teachinga language within an institution, and what we do has to fit in, if only because we might be wasting the students’ time if we’re doing something they might be getting somewhere else. Knowing the subject for the content-type courses”

In the interpersonal area, Western teachers said that it is important for
teachers to understand the students and how they want to learn, and to encourage
students.

WT: “Understand what students want to learn and how they want to learn. Even if you don’t agree with it, I think it’s important to find some kind of middle ground rather than impose what you think about language teaching. It’s important for teachers to be very clear about their goals and
what kind of activity they’re doing. To be clear about instructions for anything that they do.”

How to help a student who’s trying hard but not succeeding

This question was asked in order to elicit ways that teachers help students
who are having problems in achievement in language classes. Both groups of
teachers expressed the need to find out how the student was working on assigned
material, and see how they are studying. This indicates that the two groups
of teachers share the attitude that individual styles exist and can be changed.
Both JTs and WTs would suggest the student increase listening time, and would
spend time with them if it is available. A JT said he could give strategy
training, but Japanese students don’t like to change their learning style.

Can all students learn a language?

Most teachers said that they believe all students can learn a language (6
of each group). When asked why, one WT cited Suzuki philosophy, which assumes
that everyone is born with the same amount of talent and it has only to be
encouraged to reveal itself. Most teachers thought it was possible to learn
to communicate at some level, and that all students can make progress. There
were two teachers in each group who expressed the belief that not everyone
can learn a language; the WT said it was a conclusion based on observing
colleagues who had lived in Japan for some time without learning the language.
The JT felt that circumstances did not require all students to learn another
language at present, so there are some who do not do so.

Part C – Student role

Describe the things a good language student should do

When asked to describe things a good language student should do, WTs responded
with a larger number of personally oriented behaviors than did JTs. Both JTs
and WTs defined a good student as one who seeks out and takes advantage of
practice opportunities outside the classroom.

WT: Good language students should get on with learning, and take advantage of as many opportunities to read, write, hear, and speak the language as possible. Outside and including the classroom.

Table 1 shows the specific behaviors described by the teachers. For this analysis,
the responses have been sorted into two categories, personal and academic.
Interviewees were not asked to separate their responses into these categories.

Table 1. Description of things a good language student should do.

Western Teachers Japanese Teachers
Personal Academic Personal  Academic
Reduce pressure from outside forces

Try to find things that motivate them

Recognize the need to put in time

Be willing to try something new and take risks

Do things they can enjoy

Have a high tolerance for ambiguity, have independence and confidence

Listen as often as possible

Devote time to studying

Make a basic effort to communicate

Read extensively

Take advantage of opportunities to read, write, hear, and speak
the L2

Have a high variety of input, connect it, and study on their own

Keep their motivation

Try to enjoy themselves

Think of purpose for studying L2

Work hard, study longer than other students

Expose themselves to a lot of English

Seek out practice opportunities (2x)

Keep studying, both inside and outside the classroom

Expose themselves to a lot of English

Part D- Language Learning Strategies (LLS)

Teachers looked at a list of strategies with definitions (Appendix B) to aid in their recall of language
learning strategies. When answering items in this part of the survey, some
teachers mentioned strategies that were not on the list; such as Pattern
practice, Shadowing (Expanding Repetition), Keeping learner diaries, Increasing
practice opportunities, and Using the Internet as a communication motivator.

Do your students use any of these LLS?

The lists below include only LLS that more than two teachers mentioned in
answering this item. JTs, who named ten LLS in all, believed that their students
used Cooperation and Using resources, Imagery, Note-taking, and Prediction.
WTs, who named sixteen LLS, believed that students use Cooperation, Planning,
Using/Making rules, Using resources, Monitoring, Note-taking, Summarizing,
Self-assessment, and Questioning for Clarification. There seems to be a differing
perception of the LLS used by students, which may also be a factor of the
levels and age groups taught, or in experience in identifying LLS used for
particular activities.

Do you teach your students to use any of these LLS?

Table 2 details the LLS taught by the interviewees. Most of them taught some
LLS; for example, four WTs and three JTs said they teach Prediction. One
WT commented on the problems faced when teaching Prediction, which resulted
from the students lack of experience with making choices:

WT: “I hope the students will be able to predict a lot more. It
goes with activating prior knowledge, and making inferences, like you said, the students here see English as a separate reality,”

Interviewer: “Like, there’s no way they can predict because
nothing would be predictable.”

WT: “Right, I think it comes down to the real-life experiences
that the students have had – at least with mine, I get mostly freshmen. Up until now, their whole life, the table’s already been set. And all they do is sit down and partake of the meal. Their parents and teacher decided which junior high school they would go to, which high school they will go to, and which universities they will sit for exams for, and they’re not given a lot of choice in selecting classes in High School and JHS – very little selection in life; they’ve rarely had experience in selecting things. You know, you walk into a restaurant for lunch and you have the daily ‘set meal’ and that’s it – there’s not a lot of decision.”

The value of having prior knowledge and experience with using a strategy
applies not only to students but also to teachers. Some LLS were taught exclusively
by the WTs: notably, Questioning for Clarification, and Substitution. These
may be skills that come easier to native speakers of a language. JTs expressed
the need to have had personal experience in using a LLS before teaching it:

Interviewer: “So you feel that you can’t teach a strategy if
you wouldn’t use it yourself?”

JT: “Actually, it’s impossible, I think. students look at the
teacher’s face, and if I don’t use that strategy or I don’t like a certain strategy, I cannot have the confidence to teach or recommend to use such kind of strategy. As for the Imagery, I’m not personally using the strategy so I cannot recommend it to students. I can’t realize what’s the good
point of using Imagery. Even if I look at the documentation I cannot explain in my words.”

Table 2. Language Learning Strategies Taught 

LLS taught by Western Teachers LLS taught by Japanese Teachers
4 Predicting

3 Making Inferences

3 Note-taking

3 Questioning for Clarification

3 Summarizing

3 Activating Prior Knowledge

2 Using Resources

1 Classification

1 Cooperation

1 Imagery

1 Planning

1 Selective Attention

1 Substitution

(13)

3 Predicting

2 Activating Prior Knowledge

2 Make Inferences

2 Using Resources

1 Classification

1 Cooperation

1 Imagery

1 Increase their opportunities to use English

1 Learning from Context. (Contextualization)

1 Selective attention

1 Spiral Learning – reviewing

1 Summarizing

(12)

n= 7 WTs; 7 JTs

How long have you been teaching LLS/learner autonomy?

In answer to item 18, regarding the length of time the teacher had taught
about LLS or encouraged learner autonomy, the WTs averaged 5 years of teaching
the topic, and JTs averaged 2 years. The answers given to items 19 – 24 on
the introduction of this topic, evaluation and monitoring of strategies use,
revealed that about half of each group of teachers explicitly discuss learner
autonomy. Those who do may introduce the topic through use of a strategies
questionnaire, or an expression, such as “Give a man a fish, and you feed
him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you’ll feed him for a lifetime.”
Some teachers tell stories of successful students or of their own language
learning experiences to serve as positive role models for their students.
Five of seven in each group of teachers said they encourage students to become
strategic learners through structuring tasks that require LLS; by asking
students for feedback on how they completed a task; pointing out successful
strategy use by classmates, and by modeling solutions to problems.

JT: “I didn’t teach [autonomy] explicitly, just let the students
look back on what kind of strategies they are using, using the questionnaires,
. . . But unfortunately, their strategies are very simple, just repeat, so we did not find so many very interesting strategies. . .so I just introduced the new strategies for them. . .”

A difference appeared between the two groups when asked how they encourage
students to monitor their progress or evaluate their own work. On the whole,
JTs did not report any efforts to encourage monitoring or self-assessment
among students. Most teachers did not guide their students to evaluate their
use of LLS. However, three JTs asked students to do some evaluation of the
LLS they used by completing written reports. One WT said he thought students
who went abroad evaluated the effectiveness of their LLS use by testing themselves
in a real-life situation.

Only one teacher in each group said they asked students to evaluate their
independence in language learning. Although they subscribed to the principle
of self assessment, WTs expressed difficulty with implementing this concept.
Completion of the task is seen by students as the endpoint of their involvement;
from then on it is assumed that the teacher will evaluate the quality of
the work, not the students. This may reflect on the traditional educational
pattern of a teacher-fronted classroom in Japan, and the expectations of
students that they do not have the knowledge or ability to judge their own
efforts.

Overall Evaluation
of Strategies

The answers to items 17, LLS taught and 26, LLS deemed useful, were combined
to find out the teacher’s overall evaluation of LLS. Using these combined
scores, three strategies were evaluated in the same way by both groups of
teachers: Predicting (mentioned five times by each group), Making Inferences
(mentioned five times), and Monitoring (mentioned 2 times). This may be because
the first two LLS are often found in textbook activities, and they help in
completing listening tasks, which, in the author’s experience, is a difficult
area for Japanese students.

What LLS do you think are most useful to your students?

Table 3 shows how WTs and JTs evaluated the usefulness of LLS. Only those LLS
which were mentioned by two or more teachers are included. As was also evident
in Table 2, a higher number of LLS were mentioned by WTs. In Table
3
, several more LLS were exclusively named by WTs: Cooperation, Planning,
Questioning for Clarification, Self-Assessment, Substitution, and Using Resources.
Some WTs discussed how they encouraged Planning by assigning long-range group
projects, and Self-Assessment by having students complete worksheets or textbook
guided self-evaluation activities. Since WTs are often assigned to teach conversation courses, it is to be expected that they would stress LLS that are useful in conversation, such as Questioning and Substitution.

The most surprising comments, in light of my own preconceptions, were evaluations
of two LLS: Imagery and Cooperation. While Western learners are taught to use Imagery in learning the Chinese characters used to write Japanese, this is apparently not the case with native learners of Japanese:

JT: Imagery. Not good for Japanese students especially. I often
think that (various) taxonomies- all of them have this kind of Imagery strategy.
I do not understand why they include imagery.. . . as a Japanese I study English for about fifteen years, I have never used imagery strategy. And many students I talked with do not understand why they use this strategy here in the list. . . . And also, we have not been instructed to use image in learning, in junior high school.

Interviewer: “How about Kanji?”

JT: “Well, many people from overseas think that Kanji is an image, but we do not think so. We just think, ‘this is a character.’ Just a letter.
. . It’s just a letter, it’s not an image. Many scholars believe it’s processed in the right hemisphere of the brain, – who cares?”

There was a distinct difference in perceptions on the part of the two groups
when Cooperation was discussed; WTs were more positive than JTs:

WT-A: “Cooperation – Yes, students are very good at it and think it’s a good thing to do.”

WT-B: “And cooperation, too, because if you’re in a foreign culture you’re usually not alone, most Japanese travel in a group, so they can look at the route map and ask their questions, and if one doesn’t understand they can clarify in L1. I think cooperation is very important.”

WT-C: “Cooperation is something we use in class all the time.

JT-A: “As for cooperation, many Japanese male students do not like this strategy. But female students seem to like to help each other. But male students do not like such situations.”

JT-B: “One more thing, cooperation – most of my students HATE to cooperate with other students. Just to do cooperative work with their favorite students, is okay, but if I make the pair or group very mechanically, they hate and they cannot do this kind of cooperative group work. So for that I have to make some kind of party or activities to make the students know each other”

What LLS are not useful to your students?

Most teachers responded that they felt all LLS were useful at one time or
another, so a relatively small number were selected in answer to this item,
including: Note-Taking, Using/Making Rules, Self-Assessment, and Imagery,
as seen at the bottom of Table 3. It is noteworthy that an equal number of JTs thought that Imagery was useful as had said that Imagery was not useful. This shows that the use of LLS should be considered in the light of at least two variables, the learner’s preferred perceptual modality (learning style) and the task being required of the learner. Perhaps the teachers’ own preferred styles of presenting material also influenced their evaluation of LLS usefulness.

Table 3. Most and Least Useful Language Learning Strategies

Most Useful Language Learning Strategies
Western Teachers Japanese Teachers
4 Planning

4 Using resources

3 Cooperation

3 Making inferences

2 Activating Prior Knowledge

2 Monitoring

2 Questioning for Clarification

2 Self-assessment

2 Substitution

3 Activating prior knowledge

3 Making inferences

2 Imagery

2 Monitoring

2 Predicting

2 Selective Attention

Least Useful Language Learning Strategies
Western Teachers Japanese Teachers
2 Note-Taking

2 Using/Making Rules

2 Self-Assessment

2 Imagery

n= 7 WTs, 7 JTs

How are LLS taught?

There are basically two ways in which LLS can be taught: explicit
and embedded (Chamot & O’Malley, 1994) The explicit method is one in which LLS are identified and discussed openly; students are told when and why to use them, and reflection on their effectiveness is encouraged. Teacher modeling through thinking aloud while performing a sample task is one effective means of making instruction in strategy
use explicit (Chamot, Barnhardt, El-Dinary, & Robbins, 1999).

The embedded method is one in which LLS are encouraged indirectly; built
into activities but not identified, nor is reflection on their effectiveness
encouraged. Explicit instruction in LLS leads to greater control by the student
over the use of LLS and makes it easier to transfer LLS learned for
a particular task to another, similar task. (Chamot & O’Malley, 1994)

WTs preferred the explicit method, with five of the seven teachers reporting
that they talked openly about LLS. The problems they reported with teaching
LLS included: the language barrier, meta-talk on task (taking up too much
time to talk about how to do the task) and making students realize they use
similar strategies in L1.

JTs also reported using the explicit method with four of seven using it.
They reported problems connected with a change in the teacher’s style:

JT: “When I began to teach strategies, my teaching style changed
. . . And many of them responded positively, but some students were confused
. . . . Since I started strategy training, some students said, there
are more interactions between teacher and the students
. The students noticed
it.”

Commenting on the choice of an embedded method of LLS instruction, one JT
revealed that he purposefully conceals his intent:

JT: [I use] “kind of a blind teaching method. I do not say strategies
are very important or effective, try to camouflage everything. Tasks
or in a small talk.
If I say, ‘this strategy is an important strategy
or so on, try to remember,’ students do not like such kind of approach.”

Interviewer: “Is that too direct?”

JT: “I tried to make them study these strategies intentionally,
but the results were very dismal.”

Interviewer: “Are you talking about the research you did [a
few years before]?”

JT: “Um-hum. They did not like such approach, so I tried to camouflage
some of the strategies in the tasks, and tried to drop some strategies
in my casual conversations
with students.”

What has been the most difficult aspect of teaching LLS for you?

One JT pointed to difficulty in introducing LLS, while two felt it was difficult
to motivate students to use them to study on their own. Activating the students’
prior knowledge was a problem for one JT; who cited the small portion of
students interested in global affairs as the basis for this difficulty. Several
JTs mentioned their own lack of experience with using LLSs as a problem,
and felt the need to have some visible proof of the effectiveness of strategies
use.

A commonly-voiced concern was the time that strategies instruction might
take away from direct instruction in English. A WT explained,

WT: “My students have a full load of classes, only a small percentage
of which is English, so that time is valuable. So if those strategies could
be built more into the curriculum as a whole, let’s say in the reading class,
I think reading strategies are such an integral part, skimming and scanning
and all that, are part of what reading teachers teach. So, I think that if
the Japanese teachers who are teaching other classes can build them into
their curriculum, [the instruction would be better.] They spend a lot more
time in Japanese than we native speakers do.”

From the opposite perspective, JTs cited their own lack of ability to learn
strategically as an impediment to teaching LLS. They also claimed that students
do not want to change their own way of doing things. Other JTs said it was
difficult to consider individual learning styles while teaching LLS, and
noted the lack of good LLS textbooks in the EFL market.

When asked what was difficult about teaching LLS, one WT said, “To be conscious
of it myself.” Another WT stated, “I’m a very direct person, and a lot of
these seem like you’re coming at the task from around the side. So, I tend
personally to want to jump in, so to spend a lot of time on these other things,
is difficult for me, sometimes.” Two WTs mentioned the ‘language barrier’
as a hindrance to teaching about LLS. It is true that describing mental processes
is more difficult than talking about concrete matters. WTs mentioned their
desire for written or videotaped materials in Japanese that would explain
the LLS to their students, thus saving time in class.

Another difficulty mentioned by a WT is “Making the students aware that they
do these things in their L1 and they don’t realize it.” Knowledge of the
students’ L1 would be valuable in making such comparisons to interaction in
the L2.

Interviewer: “How do you encourage your students to practice
strategic learning?”

JT: “Even though I myself know that predicting and making inferences
are very good, but I can’t do them by myself, even though I try, it’s very
difficult to do this, so. . .What I do is, I know this is bad, but I just
consult the dictionary. Right after I find the word. So, if I can’t do
by myself, I can’t
(laughs) “But I tell the theory. There are
these kind of things you can do, Predicting and making inferences are kind
of popular as a strategy.”

How would you improve the language learning process at your school?

Both groups of teachers thought the language learning process at their school
could be improved through encouraging students to make better use of resources
outside of the classroom, such as the Internet and interacting with foreign
nationals residing in their area. One WT would increase the time spent in
class, while a JT would decrease the length and increase the frequency of
the language classes. Depending on the teacher’s particular needs, the suggestions
for improvement varied from the general, such as having better self-study
resources, to the specific, as seen in the expressed desire to ‘get rid of
the tables.’ Table
4
summarizes the teachers’ comments on item 29, the final question of
the survey. Surprisingly, only one teacher expressed the desire to reduce
the size of language classes. This may indicate a result of the declining
birthrate in Japan and a reduction in class sizes, or the fact that teachers
have accepted the status quo in that respect.

Table
4. Suggestions for improving the language learning process

Western Teachers Japanese Teachers
get rid of the tables, use desks with tables attached

make students more aware of the computer resources that are available,
put more emphasis on reading in English

more time, longer sessions, more teachers, more choice for students

more time in class; responsibility put on students to achieve

inform students of the school’s resources & make them more accessible

promote cooperation between Japanese and foreign teachers, school
wide orientation; inter-curriculum connections

take the whole freshman class to Australia or New Zealand or Britain
for the whole year.

teachers’ attitudes toward students

buy a computer to allow Internet communication; would motivate Students
to use English, show them the meaning of studying English

encourage students to use English for communication

invite many foreigners; have Japanese teachers who can speak English
give content lectures in English

reduce class size; send teachers to study abroad; stream students
by proficiency

allow for students to progress at their own pace; change entrance
exams

shorter more frequent classes; computerized Learning Strategies
Questionnaire; better self-study resources.

DISCUSSION

One of the differences that defines the past experience of most Western teachers
living in Japan is that they have lived in an immersion language learning
environment; they have faced the daily struggle to make sense of a foreign
language being spoken by native speakers and to decode writing in a totally
new alphabet. This has provided a strategic learning experience that may
allow WTs to be more confidence in teaching a variety of LLS and to be more
explicit in their teaching.

A strong argument can be made for the necessity of nonnative teachers, as
one WT pointed out:

WT: “One problem with the system is that they have put a lot of
emphasis on native English speakers as Teachers. I think that is not necessarily
good. To have someone teach English who is a native Japanese speaker, is
a role model for students. . . A Japanese student who didn’t grow up in an
English-speaking country can never speak English like I do – it’s an impossible
goal for them to reach, but to have a Japanese teacher who shows them they
can communicate in English, I think it’s a really inspiring thing for students
– it’s a role model that they can attain.”

From the answers given, it seems that Japanese teachers and students share
a deeper understanding of the challenges English learners face in Japan, and
the support necessary from teachers. Student reactions to strategies use
and training seems to be perceived very differently by JTs and WTs; better
communication between them may help in resolving misunderstandings from both
sides. In an ideal situation, both Japanese and Western teachers will work
together with Japanese students to create an autonomous learning environment
based on mutual understanding, responsibility, and trust.

REFERENCES

Chamot, A. U., Barnhardt, S., El-Dinary, P. B., & Robbins, J. (1999).The
learning strategies handbook
.
White Plains, NY: Addison Wesley Longman.

Chamot, A.. & O’Malley, J.M. (1994). The
CALLA Handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach
.
New York: Addison Wesley.

Chamot, A. U., Robbins, J. &
El-Dinary, P. B. (1993). Learning strategies in Japanese foreign language
instruction: Final Report. U.S. Department of Education, International Research
and Studies Program, PO 17A00011-92, September 1993. Available as an ERIC
document.

Chamot, A. U., Barnhardt, S., El-Dinary, P.B. Carbonaro, G. & Robbins,
J. (1993). Methods of teaching learning strategies in
foreign language classrooms. National Foreign Language Resource Center, Georgetown
University/Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, D.C. Available as
an ERIC document. Brief version in Oxford, R. (Ed.) (1996). Language
learning strategies around the world: Cross cultural perspectives.
Manoa:
University of Hawaii Second Language Teaching and Learning Center, Technical
Report #13.

O’Malley, J. M & Chamot, A. U. (1990). Learning
strategies in second language acquisition
. Cambridge: Cambridge  University
Press.

 

Appendix A

 

 

Survey Questions

 

Part A – Background Information

1. Name

2. Native Language

3. Language Taught

4. Grade/age level

5. Type of class

6. Length of Teaching Career

Part B – Teacher Role

7. Describe some things a good language teacher should do

8. Can a teacher do anything for students who are not motivated to learn?

9. What can/should a teacher do if a student is trying very hard but is still
doing poorly in class?

10. Can a teacher do anything for students who believe that they have little
ability to learn a language?

11. Do you believe that all students can learn another language? Why/ why
not?

Part C – Student Role

12. Describe some of the things a good language student should do.

13. If a student is not very motivated is there anything he/she can do to
improve motivation?

14. If a student is trying very hard, but is still doing poorly in class,
is there anything that he/she can do to improve?

15. If a student believes that he/she has little ability to learn a language
is there anything he/she can do to change this belief?

Part D- Language Learning Strategies (LLS)

Participants were shown the list of LLS seen in Appendix B and asked these
questions:

16. Do you know if any of your students use any of these LLS (or others)
on their own? Explain.

17. Do you teach your students to use any of these LLS (or others)? How?

18. How long have you been teaching LLS/learner autonomy?

19. When you have a new class, at what point do you introduce the concept
of LLS/learner autonomy?

20. How you introduce the topic of LLS/learner autonomy?

21. How do you encourage your students to practice strategic learning?

22. While your students are doing a language task, how do you encourage them
to monitor their progress?

23. When students complete a task, how do they evaluate their work?

24. How do your students evaluate their use of LLS?

25. How do you or your students evaluate their development of independent
learning?

26. What LLS do you think are most useful to your students?

27. What LLS do you think are NOT useful for your students?

28. What has been the most difficult aspect of teaching LLS for you?

29. If you had the power to make any change you wanted to, how would you
improve the language learning process at your school?

 

Appendix B

 

 

List of Language Learning Strategies Used for the Survey

 

Strategy name Description
Planning Setting a learning goal, planning how to carry our an
activity such as a project or a dramatization; planning how to write a story
or solve a problem; previewing a reading text to get the main idea.
Monitoring Being aware of how well a task is going, how well you are understanding
while listening or reading, how well you are being understood when speaking,
or how well you are expressing your ideas when speaking or writing.
Self-assessment After completing a task, judging how well you did, whether you reached
your goal, and how effective your learning strategies or problem solving procedures
were.
Selective attention Focusing on specific aspects of a task, such as locating patterns in
a story, identifying key words or ideas, listening or scanning a text for
particular information
Activating Prior Knowledge Using your background knowledge to understand and learn something new,
brainstorming relevant words and ideas, making associations and analogies;
writing or telling what you know.
Predicting Using parts of a text (such as illustrations, titles, headings, organization)
or a real life situation and your own background knowledge to anticipate what
information or event is likely to occur next.
Making Inferences Using the context of an oral or written text and your own background
knowledge to guess at meanings of unfamiliar words or ideas.
Imagery Using mental or real pictures or other visual cues to understand or
remember information, or to solve a problem.
Classification Grouping words, concepts, physical objects, numbers, or quantities according
to their attributes; constructing graphic organizers to show a classification.
Summarizing Making a mental, oral, or written summary of something you listened
to or read; retelling a story or other text in your own words
Note-taking Writing down key information in verbal, graphic, or numerical form,
often as concept maps, spider maps, T-lists, time lines, or other types of
graphic organizers
Substitution Using a synonym, paraphrase, or circumlocution when you want to express
an idea and have difficulty in finding the exact word(s) you need.
Using/Making Rules Applying a rule (phonics, decoding, grammar, other linguistic, mathematical,
scientific, or other) to understand a text or complete a task; figuring out
rules or patterns from examples.
Using Resources Using reference materials (books, dictionaries, encyclopedias, videos,
exhibitions, performances, computer programs and databases, the Internet)
to find information or complete a task.
Cooperation Working with classmates to complete a task or project, demonstrate a
process or product, share knowledge, solve problems, give and receive feedback,
and develop social skills.
Questioning for Clarification Negotiating meaning by asking for clarification, explanation, confirmation,
rephrasing, or examples.

Adapted from: Chamot & O’Malley, 1994;
O’Malley & Chamot, 1990)