Learner Autonomy: Learners’ Perceptions on Strategies to Achieve Autonomy in an EFL Classroom
Keywords:Learner autonomy, autonomy support model, Arab EFL classroom, motivation, peers role, social media, learner’s perception, self-regulated learning, teacher-support in autonomy
Learner autonomy is considered as one of the most important factors contributing to lifelong learning for language learners studying at university. This is primarily because learners were likely to feel motivated and engaged when they were given the freedom to take charge of their learning. Higher Education in Oman has been relatively a recent phenomenon that was introduced three decades before. Ministry of Higher Education in Oman emphasis developing lifelong learning and self-study skills in learners studying at a higher educational institution in Oman. Most of the learners studying at higher educational institutions were taught by the native Arab speakers in schools, and they were mostly dependent on their teachers for the completion of different academic tasks in schools. Learner autonomy is now not desired but the obligatory aspect of learning under the current unprecedented circumstances where learners were required to take control of their learning, complete their tasks, assignments and projects on their own and where teacher intervention is minimal due to ‘remote teaching’ situation. The prevalent situation where technology has now taken the pivotal role in shaping the 21st century teaching and learning process, it is high need for the EFL learners studying at tertiary level at the university should be autonomous and critical thinkers who can control of their learning process and aware of the necessities of learning. Therefore, considering the learners’ spoon-feeding learning attitude at school and fast-changing learning requirement, the researcher aimed at identifying learners’ understanding and perceptions to achieve autonomy in learning in an EFL Context. This study also aims at finding out learners’ belief on the role of peers, teachers and social media in achieving autonomy in learning. By using mixed method approach, the researcher designed a 35-items Likert scale questionnaire and semi-structured interview questions to record the perceptions of 135 EFL learners studying at tertiary level in a private university in Oman. The results of the current study revealed that students were aware of the concept of learner autonomy and they believe that teacher’s scaffolding, peer intervention and use of social media platforms can not only help them to foster autonomy in them but also to gain confidence, motivation, self-esteem, sense of responsibility and self-determination in an EFL language learning environment. The implications of this research will assist the EFL teachers and the administration to consider EFL learners learning needs and learners’ self-efficacy and attitude towards their own learning.
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