Promoting Learner Autonomy in English Language Learning (Part 2)

28 Tháng Mười Một, 2023

The idea of student autonomy has gained significant traction in the modern era with the introduction of eLearning on LMS, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic when educational institutions must switch to online learning. The development of learner autonomy strategies would be beneficial in an EFL environment like Vietnam where students depend heavily on teachers. 

Keywords: learner autonomy, student-centered learning, autonomous learning

Learner autonomy (LA) plays a vital part in learners’ success. Today’s era entails learners being more autonomous in their study. Researchers and educators have done a lot of research in the field of LA and how to promoting LA. How about students’ viewpoints on LA, particularly in their English language learning, which has become ever more progressive in the era 4.0? What elements do students consider important in enhancing their autonomy in English language learning?

Recommendations for promoting LA

The findings revealed that the students needed the teacher’s attention in nine key aspects in order to promote learner autonomy. The nine key aspects consist of learning activities; learning resources; empowerment in content selection and assessment; goal setting; interest attraction; teachers’ support, counsel and encouragement; teacher-student and student-student relationships; reflection; and technological involvement.   

Learning activities

Students enjoy a wide range of learning activities such as projects, presentations, dramatization, interviews, challenges, and extracurricular sessions. Effective use of pair work and group work is necessary to complete these tasks. Moreover, the activities are expected to be meaningful and practical to their real life. The learning operation is not only about the language but also about the culture. Exam-oriented learning is also needed to take into account. 

Learning resources

Thanks to the LMS, teachers can provide learning materials for students easily. Learning resources should be varied in format and content, for example, platforms, websites, videos, infographic, English films with subtitles. Material provision must accompany with instructions and keys.  

Empowerment in content selection and assessment

Students desire to participate in choosing studying contents and have their words in the assessment methods. More empowerment may bring about more autonomy as learners become the decision-maker for their own study.

Goal setting

Teachers need to develop learners’ self-awareness, encourage students to set aims, make them aware of their objectives and help them achieve their goals. Goal-oriented students are more self-disciplined and hence more successful. 

Interest attraction

Interest plays a crucial role in students’ devotion to learning. It provides an intrinsic motivation to boost learners to take charge of their learning. It can be promoted with good teaching methods. Games offer good service and have never lost their appeal to students. A supportive, friendly learning environment with lots of interactive activities is vital for learning process. Importantly, the teacher should attempt to create an atmosphere in which the learners could feel more responsible for their own learning.

Teachers’ support, counsel and encouragement

There are types of learners who require more guidance than others, and there are times when learners need more assistance than normal and there are tasks in which learners will rely more on the teacher than usual. The concept of teacher-guided autonomy has been regarded in previous studies mentioned in the literature review. Learners need teacher’s constant support to promote autonomy effectively. Teachers must provide enough guidance and support that can propel them to new levels of effort and achievement and reach their greatest potential. 

Students also need teacher’s counsel on learning methods, learning routes, as well as learning strategies. In addition, teachers need to instruct students on effective group work. Furthermore, teachers should often encourage and give compliments and positive comments to motivate students in their study. Offering bonus marks is an effective tool for motivating students to work harder. 

Teacher-student and student-student relationships

Students expect a closer relationship and more communication with teachers. A closer relationship and more communication enable more understanding, which beneficial in promoting learner autonomy. Furthermore, teachers need to pay attention to fostering the relatedness among students since it is interdependent and has a significant impact on learning process. Good companions are catalysts and stimulants for the learning process. Good teacher-student and student-student relationships provide positive learning atmosphere.


Reflection process can take place on an everyday basis or after completing a challenge. Blog writing to reflect the learning process and achievements should be encouraged to keep track of the progress, as it is easy for students to get distracted.   

Technological involvement 

As Brown (2006) noted, today’s students interact with the world differently than previous generations did, preferring to satisfy their curiosity digitally and largely online. Thus, it is crucial that educators in the 21st century incorporate technology into their instruction so as to encourage students to be autonomous in their learning process. 


The new era has emphasized the role of autonomous learning as part of the requirement for the 21st century. Educators need to design learning in the way that can engage learners, raise their interest and develop awareness of autonomy. Students need the teacher’ adequate support to fully reach their potential in improving their autonomy.

Please refer to the full paper “Promoting Learner Autonomy in English Language Learning” HERE.

Author: Le Thi Tuyet Minh, University of Economics Ho Chi Minh City (UEH)

This is an article in the series of articles spreading research and applied knowledge from UEH with the “Research Contribution For All – Nghiên Cứu Vì Cộng Đồng” message, UEH cordially invites dear readers to look forward to the upcoming Knowledge Newsletter ECONOMY No. #101.

News & photosAuthor, UEH Department of Marketing & Communication

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