Autonomy in language learning, learning, and life

Abstract

This paper addresses three practical questions about autonomy in foreign language learning from a philosophical perspective: Do language teachers have a responsibility to foster personal autonomy as well as teach language knowledge and skills? Does autonomy mean that learners should be unconditionally free to control their learning? Does autonomy necessarily involve control over the content of learning? Arguing that personal autonomy entails learner autonomy and that learner autonomy, in turn, entails language learner autonomy, I offer a qualified 'Yes' as the answer to each of these questions. The paper also argues for the value of situating our understanding of autonomy in language learning within wider conceptions of autonomy in learning and autonomy in life.

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