Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Locus of Learning and Affective Strategy Use: Two Factors Affecting Success in Self-Instructed Language Learning

Academic journal article Foreign Language Annals

Locus of Learning and Affective Strategy Use: Two Factors Affecting Success in Self-Instructed Language Learning

Article excerpt


As distance learning and other nontraditional methods of language learning become more popular, it is important to understand the factors that influence learners' ability to succeed in such environments. This paper reports on two factors that have a significant impact on the student experience in a self-instructed language program: locus of learning and use of affective strategies. Locus of learning describes students' beliefs about who controls the education process. This study found that learners with an internal locus of learning are more likely to be successful in self-instructed language learning than those with an external locus of learning. Moreover, successful self-instructed learners made use of affective strategies, whereas less successful learners did not. These affective factors may play a critical role in self-access language learning.

Keywords: affect, beliefs, language learning strategies, locus of control, self-instructed learning

Language: Russian


In recent years, there has been a rise in interest in self-instructed1 language learning, a form of learning in which learners work without direct supervision of a teacher. This interest is due to a variety of factors, including availability of new technologies, pressure on language departments to increase enrollments while cutting costs, and increasing numbers of nontraditional students enrolled in tertiary education.

In spite of its popularity, self-instruction poses a number of challenges to learners above and beyond the challenges they face in a conventional teacher-led classroom. In the absence of an ever-present teacher, students who are insufficiently prepared for these demands may find themselves failing or dissatisfied with their learning experience. Understanding the factors that affect the student experience in self-instruction allows course developers and administrators to better meet the needs of individual learners.

The purpose of this study is to explore factors that influence students' ability to succeed in a self-access language program. The main research questions addressed are:

(1) Which factors influence learning outcomes in self-instructed language learning?

(2) Which strategies do learners in selfinstructional settings employ to help them manage the learning experience?

This study revealed a number of factors that affect learners' success in a selfaccess language program. Two of the most salient factors are related to learners' beliefs and emotional states: locus of learning, a construct that describes learners' beliefs about roles and responsibilities in learning, and use of strategies to cope with negative emotions.

Self-Instructed Language Learning

Self-instruction in language learning is a type of learning in which students work without the direct control of a teacher (Dickinson, 1987). Self-instructed language learning can take many forms, ranging from distance learning to self-study or autodidaxy (Candy, 1990), in which a student undertakes a learning project entirely without teacher intervention. The broad definition of self-instruction also includes independent learning projects undertaken by students in a conventional classroom. For purposes of this discussion, however, only nonclassroom-based language learning programs will be considered. While incarnations of self-instructed language learning are many and varied, they do share certain fundamental features, notably relative isolation from a teacher and a learning group. This isolation presents a number of new challenges for learners. Important limitations of self-instructional settings include reduced opportunity for immediate support, guidance, interaction, feedback, and incidental learning (White, 2003). In essence, learners must manage themselves. They must regulate and over see the rate and direction of their learning to a much greater degree than classroom learners whose learning is organized by regular classroom sessions. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.