Aspects of Modern Language Teaching in Europe

By Wolf Gewehr; Georgia Catsimali et al. | Go to book overview

Part I


FOCUS ON LANGUAGE LEARNER AUTONOMY

Today, educators, educational researchers, developmental psychologists and cognitive scientists are engaged in the design of school programmes and conducting investigations on learning strategies, study skills and abilities to learn. In Part I, two chapters pay particular attention to how conditions that foster them might be built into the materials, methodologies and environments for learning and schooling.

From the chapters in Part I, we can deduce that there is good reason to try to improve the characteristics of individual students as learners and to improve instructional techniques. In summary, the chapters share a special concern with the empowering of learners which also means a concern with empowering teachers to present alternative teaching strategies aimed at the individualization of instruction, caring for differentiation in the classroom through the enhancement of learning strategies that enable students to become independent and responsible learners.

The first two chapters complement each other and are concerned with the higher goals of learning; namely, learning how to learn and autonomy. Based on his experience, Manuel Jiménez Raya’s chapter is an attempt to present a comprehensive conceptualization of learning how to learn; namely, as a complex of factors comprising learning strategies, reflection, metacognition, attitudes and the planning of learning. It is generally agreed that success in acquiring new knowledge or in using knowledge to solve problems must depend on the appropriate use of very fundamental mental abilities or processes. It is also agreed that the development of learning expertise is a complex and lifelong process which has received relatively little attention from research in second language learning and teaching.

The author maintains that, ideally, any training programme should include practice in specific task-appropriate strategies, direct instruction in the orchestration, overseeing and monitoring of these skills, and information

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