Academic journal article Asian Social Science

ESL Teachers' Perceptions toward the Practices and Prospects of Autonomous Language Learning

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

ESL Teachers' Perceptions toward the Practices and Prospects of Autonomous Language Learning

Article excerpt


The latest shift in Malaysia Education Blueprint (MEB 2013-2025) has emphasized on the usage of Autonomous Language Learning (ALL) as a teaching and learning approach. In reality, most of the Autonomous Learning traits seem to be missing in the traditional learning process due to the exam-oriented education system that has been applied in Malaysia since the past decades. The objective of this study is to explore the teachers' perceptions towards ALL practices and prospects knowing that their roles are very crucial in developing Autonomous Learner. A survey was conducted among 35 in service English teachers teaching in Malaysia public secondary schools to explore their insights and views regarding their perceptions, practices and prospects of learner autonomy in their classrooms. The findings revealed that the teachers are very positive towards the implementation despite the discouraging situation of ALL among students.

Keywords: autonomous language learning, ESL, teachers, perceptions

1. Introduction

The world today is in need of human capital that is more competitive. A competitive individual is known to be innovative, creative, proactive, motivated, highly skilled, flexible, available, and most important to have complex and critical thinking (Rivas, 2013). It is said that these traits of human capital can be shaped by the practice of learner autonomy (Bullock, 2011; Camilleri, 1999; Yoshiyuki, 2011). However, fostering learner autonomy requires appropriate cooperation between teachers and learners. In the process of language learning, active learners reflect on how they learn and analyse their learning methods. Learners should decide and reflect themselves whether they need improvements or not to remain stagnant. In many cases, students are not expected to reflect upon, analyse and evaluate their learning process in the current situation of language learning.

Autonomous learners are those who positively accept responsibility for their own learning (Holec, 1981; Little, 1991). Learners will be motivated when they realize that they hold the responsibility for their language learning development (Al Asmari, 2013; Jiao, 2005; Little, 2007 Borg & Al-Busaidi, 2012). Motivation should enhance the sense of responsibility among the learners in conducting their language learning process. The autonomous learner should understand learning objectives and goals before making initiative to strive towards their own learning, without ignoring to share insights during monitoring progress and evaluating their learning process. Teacher should guide their students to achieve realistic and measurable goals in formal education context-being reflective and possessing self-awareness will lead to better learning (Pintrich, 2000; Schunk, 2005; Borg & Al-Busaidi, 2012).

According to Al Asmari (2013), language learning process works through learners' own reflection on how they learn and it makes learners active in the sense that they learn to analyse their learning strategies. It has to be admitted that this trait is missing in traditional language teaching process and students are not expected to reflect upon their own learning. Malaysia Education system is still practicing traditional classroom system where teachers act as the authority that provides learners with knowledge which has resulted to the hindrance of ALL. Teacher is the person in charge in determining what and how to learn. This way of teaching will create passive learners. Passive learners only absorb the information provided to them by their teacher without any reflections, analysis, and evaluation of the information. Learner autonomy and teacher autonomy are interrelated as they need each other to work out as the teaching and learning process happens. Autonomous teachers should be able to guide their student to take responsibility with proper guidance and know when and how to guide. Teachers and learners' roles should be identified and introduced. …

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