Learner Autonomy

My interest in learner autonomy, and the links between it and motivation, emerged as a result of two of my M.A. ELT modules: 1) Multimedia and Independent Learning and 2) Materials Development, both of which I did between February and June 2013 at Leeds Met. Since completing these modules, and my degree, I have worked at IH Palermo, where I experimented widely with different methods of helping learners become more autonomous language users, and embarked on a quest to read every bit of related literature that I could find! I have since started working at Sheffield University’s ELTC, where my experimentation and reading quest continues! The experimentation and reading have, of course, made – and will continue to make – for a number of autonomy-related blog posts.

I have decided to gather all of my posts related to learner autonomy into one place, here, to make it easier to find them:

Learner Autonomy a la Lizzie!

Learner Autonomy a la Lizzie!


Top 10 resources for learner autonomy and metacognition

This post brings together a list of useful resources for finding out more about learner autonomy and metacognition.

Learner autonomy-related projects

Here are the posts I’ve written about learner autonomy-related projects that I’ve been working on with my learners over the past 8 months…

  • Visualising language learning : This post looks at a way of helping learners visualise their language learning development, which I created for use alongside my various learner autonomy-related projects.
  • Using Edmodo with Language Learners (part 2):  Following on from my webinar, this post looks at the role of collaborative tools like Edmodo in the development of learner autonomy and suggests 5 different ways of using Edmodo for this purpose. Student feedback also included. (Part 1 considered ways of using Edmodo to make homework more interesting and can be found here.)
  • Extensive Reading (Part 1): This is a reflection on my own experience of extensive reading in a second language, which leads into a discussion of the links between extensive reading and learner autonomy. This marked the very beginnings of my idea of my “Reading Project” as a learner autonomy tool.
  • Extensive Reading (Part 2): Here, my “Reading Project” takes shape: I explain the process I decided to use with my learners to implement it.
  • Extensive reading part 3 – The Reading Project : A post about my Reading Project, whose goal was to get learners reading autonomously. I discussed this project in my webinar on Learner Autonomy, and this post extends that, detailing the process I used with my learners, along with suggestions of key things to consider when setting up a project of your own.
  • Experimenting with English: scaffolding autonomy : Also following on from my webinar on Learner Autonomy, through a discussion of a project I have been working on with my learners, this post offers a framework for enabling learners to experiment with different activities outside the classroom, collaborate with classmates and sustain motivation over time.

IATEFL talks (write-ups)

Here are write ups of the talks I attended at IATEFL, which include the theme of learner autonomy…

For more IATEFL-related posts, please follow this link.


Here are some presentations I’ve given with the theme of learner autonomy running through them. If you would like me to do a talk for you, please feel free to get in touch – lizzie.pinard@gmail.com 

  • Webinar on Learner Autonomy: information and references  My webinar was called “Learner Autonomy: tools and tips” and this post is a summary of the webinar as well as a list of references and links to further related information, including the actual recording of the webinar.

Learner autonomy-related musings

These are some reflective posts on the theme of learner autonomy in language learning

  • In response to “Observations of an Elementary Language User: On reading Chia’s blog post on the English Teaching Professional website, I was moved (because I agreed so strongly with what she wrote) to write this blog post, in which I argue that if we are to help learners become more autonomous, we need to avoid trying to force them through holes that are the wrong shape for them…

Articles on learner autonomy that have been published elsewhere

I have also written about learner autonomy for other sources e.g. the British Council Teaching English website and the IH Journal. If you would like me to write something for you, please feel free to get in touch – lizzie.pinard@gmail.com 

  • Innovation in Education: looking for learning This is a link to information about a blog post I wrote for the British Council Teaching English website, as a TE Associate Blogger. In that blog post, I shared the approach I use to ensure that the tools I use help learning, and to ensure that pedagogy remains central, using Edmodo and Wordandphrase.info as examples.

More specifically about metacognition

Metacognition is closely entwined with learner autonomy, and I am very interested in this area of theory. Here are some posts I have written on the topic. 

  • The role of metacognition in language learning : An attempt to generate some discussion about the role of metacognition in language learning, which I feel to be very important. If you have an interest in metacognition please do respond – I really want to hear from you!
  • Bringing Metacognition into the Classroom : Written in response to a request from Sandy Millin, whose blog I highly recommend, during an #ELTchat discussion, this post provides an overview of the role of metacognition in language learning and ideas for cultivating it in your classroom.

Materials to help learners use tools independently

These are some materials that I have made over the course of my projects for helping learners to become more autonomous in their language learning. 

  • Quizlet for learners: a step-by-step guide:  This post contains self-access materials for learners to use, that show them how to use Quizlet – a tool for learning and reviewing vocabulary (and anything else – but this is the most relevant use for language learners)

Autonomous learning activities

These posts are a collection of autonomous learning ideas based on my own experience of learning Italian and on my experience as a teacher helping learners to become more autonomous in their learning.

  • Autonomous listening skill development – activity 1 : This post describes an activity which aims to help learners work on their perception of weak forms in connected speech, develop their sense of rhythm and become more aware of the role of weak forms (and word/sentence stress within this),  and develop their ability to chunk written language correctly when they read it or hear it.
  • Autonomous learning activities (5) – Games!: How can games be played alone? How can they an autonomous learning tool? Is it a contradiction in terms? No. This post explores various games that learners can play alone and various others that can be played using collaborative media such as Edmodo.

Blog carnival posts

These are links to posts that I’ve written for Blog carnivals, and to blog carnivals I’ve hosted, around the theme of learner autonomy. (I will soon be hosting the 41st ELT Blog carnival, on the topic of learner autonomy, so I look forward to adding that post to this list!)

  • The 2nd ELT Research Blog Carnival : I hosted the 2nd ELT Research Blog Carnival in December 2013, so in this post you can find a series of links to reviews written of research articles related to the subject of Learner Autonomy, written by other bloggers.
  • 39th ELT Blog Carnival: Blogging with Students : In this post, I discuss my first foray into blogging with students, which I did with the dual goal of giving them additional opportunities for using English and harnessing it as a tool to help in the development of learner autonomy…

Links to external blog posts 

Have you written a blog post on the topic of learner autonomy and/or metacognition? If so, please comment and let me know about it so that I can read it and link to it from this page. 🙂

  • OUPELT Blog: An article on learner autonomy by Janet Hardy-Gould.
How do we help out learners to bridge that gap... Copyright: Lizzie Pinard 2014 (between Palermo and Cefalu, Sicily)

How do we help out learners to bridge that gap… Copyright: Lizzie Pinard 2014 (taken between Palermo and Cefalu, Sicily)

18 thoughts on “Learner Autonomy

  1. Hi Lizzie, I’m trying to log in to todays webinar but I keep getting an error message that the link has not been found. Please help. Thanks, Salwa

  2. Pingback: Webinar on Learner Autonomy: Information and References | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  3. Pingback: IHTOC (International House Teachers Online Conference) | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  4. Pingback: My top ten learner autonomy and metacognition resources | Reflections of an English Language Teacher

  5. Hi there Lizzie,
    Some good links here. What I would like to add is that a lot of people write on this topic from the “outside” looking in. I have chosen to take a more personal approach, writing more from an experiential level.
    Whilst the stuff I have written does not address autonomy head on, all of the posts I have written on my blog deal with student autonomy, directed at the language learner. There are many aspects to it, none more so than the need for learners to listen to themselves! Here is a link to one that talks about the need for the learner to pay more attention to their own gut feelings ( NOT emotions) so they can go to the areas that will provide them what they need ( as opposed to what others think they may need!)… http://www.strategiesinlanguagelearning.com/feelings-in-language-learning/

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  8. Pingback: IATEFL 2015 | Elizabeth Pinard: Fostering autonomy: harnessing the outside world from within the classroom | Talk summary | ELT stories

  9. Pingback: IATEFL Manchester 2015: The ones I missed | Sandy Millin

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  12. Pingback: Learner autonomy. Lizzie Pinard - Little delicate world

  13. I have recently discovered your website/blog and have found it inspirationa, especially the pages “reflections” and “learner autonomy”l. Thank you for making your wealth of knowledge available. I would like to ask you if you would give your permission for me to use some of your content on my new blog – with the appropriate acknowledgments, of course.

  14. Hi Lizzie, I’ve been teaching for years, although mostly in HE. Despite the different context, I found your webinar and this site incredibly helpful with loads of ideas I can adapt. Thank you so much and congratulations.

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