Autonomy and its role in English language learning

practice and research

David M. Palfreyman, Philip Benson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter picks up discussion in the previous edition of this handbook of how the concept of autonomy has influenced language education and applied linguistics in recent years. It begins by discussing the philosophical and practical origins of learner autonomy in language education and particularly in English language teaching and how these have developed over the last 10 years. Key practical initiatives and research findings are reviewed to illuminate how autonomy has been interpreted in relation to learners, teachers, and the learning situation; how it has been linked or contrasted with other constructs; and how fostering autonomy has been seen as a part of pedagogy. Recent developments from the earlier edition are discussed regarding metacognition and, in particular, various contextual dimensions of learner autonomy. Other emerging topics are also reviewed, including learner autonomy in the world of digital/social media, learner autonomy in curriculum design and published materials, and the relation of learner autonomy to plurilingual perspectives. The chapter discusses issues in each of these areas, potential strategies for developing autonomy and effective learning, and possible future directions for research and practice.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecond handbook of English language teaching
EditorsXuesong Gao
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9783319585420, 9783030028985, 9783030028992
ISBN (Print)9783030028978
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameSpringer international handbooks of education
ISSN (Print)2197-1951
ISSN (Electronic)2197-196X

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    Palfreyman, D. M., & Benson, P. (2019). Autonomy and its role in English language learning: practice and research. In X. Gao (Ed.), Second handbook of English language teaching (2nd ed., pp. 661-681). (Springer international handbooks of education). Cham, Switzerland: Springer.