Fostering Learner Autonomy in Technology-Enhanced ESP Courses
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The fact that there are more online resources available targeting learners with a higher language proficiency may imply that learners with lower proficiency levels, such as beginners and elementary learners, prefer face-to-face tuition and classroom contact, whereas intermediate and advanced learners are more willing to explore autonomous learning scenarios; a fact that seems only natural considering that learners who have an intermediate or advanced level of proficiency can, to a larger extent, become independent learners due to an existing knowledge base and subsequent understanding of the target language, conferring more autonomy on them. This also suggests that the Internet is slowly becoming an integral part of our English language teaching practice – especially at levels targeting higher intermediate to advanced learners – that there is an audience for these courses and also that learners are increasingly in need of materials and learning scenarios outside the boundaries of more traditional teaching. Learner autonomy is undoubtedly one of the assets brought about with the integration of computer-assisted language learning into the language curriculum. Strictly speaking, efficient learner autonomy should imply that learners take greater control over their learning, although this does not necessarily mean that their autonomy should be stripped of instructional guidance. For autonomy to be efficient, on the one hand, learners have to develop the capacity to be independent learners and, on the other, the institutional context in which they are studying must provide the appropriate backing and support for this to occur. This paper will reflect on a number of ICT-related initiatives that have been implemented at the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia in order to foster learner autonomy in a technology-enhanced setting for learners of English for specific purpose. The author will refer to the pedagogical implications deriving from her experience in designing online language learning courseware and to different means of increasing learner autonomy.
KeywordsLanguage Learning Target Language Learn Management System Open Educational Resource Advanced Learner
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