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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 212-214 ! Contents: Volume 3, Number 3, September 2012 Edited by Jo Mynard •

Editorial by Jo Mynard (212-214)

Articles •

The Impact of Teacher Training for Learning Autonomy by Martha Armida Fabela-Cárdenas (215-236)

Scaffolding Students’ Initial Self-Access Language Centre Experiences by Robert Croker and Umida Ashurova (237-253)

Readiness for Self-Access Language Learning: A Case of Iranian Students by Razieyeh Ahmadi (254-265)

Supporting the Development of Autonomous Learning Skills in Reading and Writing in an Independent Language Learning Centre! by Hazel L. W. Chiu (266-290)

Video Self-assessment for Language Learners by Rob Hirschel, Craig Yamamoto and Peter Lee (291-309)

The Effects of Applying Betts' Autonomous Learner Model on Iranian Students by Nahid Yarahmadzehi and Elham Bazleh (310-321)

Announcements

Upcoming special issues: Calls for papers! o SiSAL Journal Special Issue on Strategy Development in SelfAccess edited by Heath Rose! o SiSAL Journal Special Issue on Self-Access Writing Support edited by Rachael Ruegg!

Editorial! Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan Welcome to the second general issue of SiSAL Journal. Once again, through the publication of a general issue we are able to include some interesting articles that might not necessarily have been received for publication in a special issue. Issues of SiSAL Journal have a good international representation and this current issue is no exception. Contributions come from Mexico, Hong Kong, Japan and Iran. Although this is a general issue of SiSAL Journal, I have identified some salient themes coming through in the articles. These are: training for autonomous learning; scaffolding self-access use; and beliefs about learning and using the L2.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 212-214 ! Training for Autonomous Learning Two articles report on studies which investigated the effectiveness of training for autonomous learning. The first article is by Martha Armida Fabela-Cárdenas who reports on a study using Q Methodology which investigated whether a teacher training programme in Mexico had an impact on teachers’ opinions and beliefs about learner autonomy. The results suggest that the training was successful in influencing changes in attitudes. Nahid Yarahmadzehi and Elham Bazleh discuss learner autonomy in the Iranian context. Using a quasi-experimental research design, the authors investigate whether using the Bett’s Autonomous Learner Model leads to any significant improvement in (1) students’ readiness for self-directed learning and (2) students’ language proficiency. The results indicate that “attempts to incorporate autonomous learning into school curriculum would be beneficial”. Scaffolding Self-Access Use Two of the article specifically focus on ways in which learners are supported in self-access learning. Robert Croker and Umida Ashurova take a look at ways to introduce first year university students to self-access centres in Japan. The authors discuss the scaffolding activities that were used in order to help “classroom English learners” transform into “SALC English users”. Hazel L. W. Chiu looks at ways to support the development of reading and writing in a self-access centre in Hong Kong. The examples in the author’s paper show how learners’ needs are addressed through individual and small group consultations and how the advisor encourages a deeper-level of engagement with the learning process through the dialogue. Views about Learning and Using the L2 Two papers in this issue focus on investigating learners’ beliefs. In her paper, Razieyeh Ahmadi investigates learners’ perceptions and behaviours related to autonomous self-access language learning in Iran. The results of a quantitative study suggest that learners are ready to take charge of some aspects of their self-directed learning, but will need support in other areas.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 212-214 ! Rob Hirschel, Craig Yamamoto and Peter Lee report on a mixed methods study which investigated Japanese university students’ beliefs about their interest, enjoyment, and confidence with using English. Participants in the study were asked to create and view video recordings of themselves interacting in English and complete self-assessment questionnaires. The results of the study indicate that participants in the video treatment group “were able to perceive gains in interest, enjoyment, and confidence that the control group participants did not”. Notes on the editor Jo Mynard is an Associate Professor at Kanda University of International Studies. She is the Director of the Self-Access Learning Centre, Assistant Director of the English Language Institute, and Deputy Director of the Research Institute of Language Studies and Language Education. She holds an Ed.D. in TEFL from the University of Exeter, UK and an M.Phil. in applied linguistics from Trinity College, Dublin. She has taught EFL in Ireland, Spain, England, the UAE and Japan, and has been involved in facilitating self-access learning since 1996. She co-edited three recently published volumes; one on learner autonomy and two on advising in language learning. Acknowledgements Many thanks to the contributors for submitting their work to SiSAL Journal, to the reviewers for their feedback and to the editorial team once again for their input, support and editing skills. Upcoming Issues We are now accepting submissions for the March 2013 issue on self-access writing support which will be guest-edited by Rachael Ruegg. Following that, we will be publishing two general issues in June and September, 2013. If you are interested in guest editing a future special issue, please contact the editor. For submission details and deadlines, please check the website: http://sisaljournal.org

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236

The Impact of Teacher Training for Autonomous Learning Martha Armida Fabela-Cárdenas, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, México

Abstract This article focuses on teacher attitudes towards learner autonomy and discusses whether teachers’ attitudes change through teacher training. The study was carried out with teachers working in different self-access centres within the State University of Nuevo Leon, Mexico (UANL). The aim of the study was to report any changes in teachers’ opinions and beliefs on issues after a teacher training course. These issues range from teacher-centeredness, learner-centeredness, learner autonomy, work in the SAC, views on language learning, the role of teachers, the role of learners, views on local culture, and on motivation. The study was carried out using Q Methodology. Keywords: Self-access, autonomous learning, learner training, learner autonomy, teacher autonomy, teachers’ attitudes.

The last two decades have seen an increase in the development of self-access language learning centres around the world. This has promoted an interest in learner autonomy and best practice to promote it. Practitioners and theorists in the field seem to agree that in most schemes for learner autonomy, teachers still play an important role helping the learner develop autonomy (Benson, 2007; Nakata, 2011; Sinclair, McGrath & Lamb, 2000).

Learner Autonomy Autonomous learning has become the umbrella term for an approach that envisions giving learners more autonomy in their decisions about what, when and how to learn. Holec (1981) introduces the idea of autonomy and separates directed-teaching from self-directed learning, presenting a theoretical and practical description of the application of the concept of autonomy in language learning by adults. In order to do this he introduces specific techniques that learners would need to acquire in order to develop autonomy. 215

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 In order to help learners assume more responsibility to control their learning and to make all the necessary decisions, it was suggested that learners needed learner training to analyse their needs, identify their learning styles, make use of appropriate learning strategies, establish goals, monitor their progress, and self-evaluate (Ellis & Sinclair, 1989; Holec, 1981). Little (1995) suggests that if the ultimate and only purpose of learning a language is using that language, practitioners should bear in mind that the social dimension of learning and using a language calls for a more collective, as opposed to individual, effort for learners to develop autonomy for learning. Little’s contribution helped the profession to see autonomy from a different perspective where indeed, the textbooks, the curriculum and the teacher still played a role in shaping and balancing autonomy while also providing the social opportunity for maximal self-development within human interdependence (Little, 1995). However, it was suggested that in situations where learner autonomy and selfaccess learning are totally new concepts, it may be difficult to encourage learners to move away from the traditional approaches with which they are familiar, and that is a reason why “Learners need to be exposed not only to self-access learning but also to information about how it is different and why� (Gardner & Miller, 1999, p. 12). It becomes evident that what is applicable to learners is applicable to teachers too. Teachers might also find it difficult to move away from the traditional approaches; therefore teachers as well as learners need to be exposed to autonomous learning and selfaccess learning in order to be able to make sense of it. In consequence, there has been an increasing interest in focusing on the role of the teachers and their own development through teacher education (Sinclair, McGrath & Lamb, 2000) and it has become important that teacher training mirrors learner training.

Teacher Autonomy Within the field of English language learning, the roles of teachers in promoting learner autonomy have been examined in specific contexts (Benson, 2007; Chan, 2003;

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 Holec, 1981; Lamb, 2000; Nakata, 2011; Sinclair, McGrath & Lamb, 2000; Reinders & Lazaro, 2011; Smith, 2000; Voller, 1997; Yang, 1998). Holec (1981, p. 23) suggests that the role of the teacher, if self-directed learning is to be implemented, changes from ‘producing’ learning to ‘facilitating’ it. The teacher’s task, then, is to help the learner to develop the ability to define all aspects of his/her learning. This would include; establishing his/her objectives to meet his/her personal needs, defining contents, finding the appropriate materials, choosing learning strategies and learning activities that might be useful, establishing goals, monitoring progress, making realistic plans, self-evaluating and self-motivating. Similarly, Voller (1997, p. 113) reminds us that teachers need to remain faithful to three fundamental assumptions: 1) That language learning is an interpretative process and that an autonomous approach to learning requires a transfer of control to the learner 2) That teachers should make sure that their teaching practices reflect these assumptions by engaging in a process of negotiation with the learners 3) That teachers observe, self-monitor and reflect upon the teaching strategies they use and the nature of interaction they set up and participate in As we have increasingly adopted this pedagogy, we have been in need of organising teacher education that helps teachers to cope with their new roles and demands. How should this teacher education be? Little (1995, p. 179) argues that learner autonomy and teacher autonomy are interdependent and that learner autonomy becomes a matter for teacher education in two ways. Firstly, we must provide trainee teachers with the skills to promote autonomy in the learners. Secondly, we must give them first-hand experience of learner autonomy in their own training to make teachers more likely to succeed in promoting learner autonomy since their own education will have encouraged them to be autonomous. Little asserts that what is valid for learner training is also valid for teacher training in selfdirected language learning

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 Teacher education should be subject to the same processes of negotiation as are required for the promotion of learner autonomy in the language classroom. Aims and learning targets, course content, course process, learning tasks and the assessment of learner achievement must all be negotiated (1995, p. 180) Aoki (2002) agrees and suggests that teacher education for the development of teacher autonomy needs to be flexible in order to grant freedom and room for choice, to be psychologically supportive for personal growth, and to allow mutual trust between student-teachers and teacher educators. It has also been pointed out that not all teachers, just as not all learners, are at the same level of autonomy. McGrath (2000, p. 109) distinguishes two broad perspectives on teacher autonomy: (i) self-directed professional action and (ii) freedom from control by others. He also argues that we cannot assume a readiness on the part of teachers to exercise autonomy in any of these ways and reports that in a course on materials design and evaluation, some teachers were found to be at different stages of this continuum; ‘some were developed and independent enough to tackle action research projects, some could develop this capacity without intervention, and some were at a very early stage of teacher autonomy - conditioned perhaps by either cultural or curriculum constraints. In many contexts, including the context of this study, teachers might opt for accepting the decisions already made by others because this seems to be less demanding in every aspect. Such teachers obviously have not developed their own autonomy. McGrath (2000) suggests that exercising independent judgment about the decisions made by others (e.g. on syllabus, examinations, textbooks) requires compromise and negotiation as well as determined autonomous action, but that not all teachers demonstrate the capacity and freedom for self-direction. This is important, as Benson (2000, p. 117) argues ‘the ability of learners to exercise their rights depends upon the extent to which teachers are prepared to exercise their own right to autonomy’. In that sense, Benson suggests that teachers have to be able to explore the boundaries of their institutional constraints (e.g. the curriculum) which should not be difficult if, as Little (1995, p. 178) explains, every time a teacher presents a curriculum s/he does it from his/her own unique interpretation of it. 218

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 In a similar vein, Voller (1997, p. 111) argues that the role of the teacher as a negotiator and/or mediator is key to allow learners to gain some control over contexts otherwise controlled by others (e.g. authorities, curriculum, etc). However, as Smith (2001) points out, we may need to acknowledge and try to address constraints on our own autonomy as teacher educators in relation to being self-directed professionals, being selfdirected learners and being free from external control. McGrath (2000), like Little (1995), proposes a teacher training programme where the message and the medium are one and argues that participants will experience a level of uncertainty that is generated in the practice of autonomous learning, and which they must confront in order to emerge convinced to implement autonomy in their own classrooms. This approach, according to Little (1995, p. 180), will never be “entirely comfortable or entirely successful” but it will give trainers and trainees the opportunity to sense the uncertainties generated by surrendering control and will compel participants “to be more than consumers of ready-made courses” (p. 80). Little argues that those who succeed will be more coherent in their day-to-day interaction with their learners. Some interesting ideas for teacher education and teacher development are proposed by Lamb (2000), including: the need for reflective practice, the need to relinquish control in the classroom, the integration of peer-assessment, peer-appraisal and mentoring, and the consideration of teachers’ personal theories and beliefs given that their beliefs might influence whether they promote autonomous learning or not. This implies that in every university there might be lecturers who are more or less inclined towards favouring learner autonomy and this study explores whether teachers change their attitudes after a teacher training course that takes into account recommendations from the literature to mirror teacher training with learner training, a course that is co-produced by trainer and trainees, who jointly decide the aims, the course content and the learning activities. The Context of the Study: Self-Access Centres in Mexico The study explores my own environment in relation to teacher training and its effects on teachers’ attitudes. It was carried out with twelve teachers working in different 219

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 self-access centres (SACs) within the State University of Nuevo Leon (UANL), Mexico. The SACs in the UANL offer two modalities of English learning for students. The first is autonomous learning with guidance from a tutor in the SAC and the second is a blended mode of classroom sessions plus autonomous learning in the SAC. These teachers work in one or both of these modalities. The participants in the study are 12 teachers, all of whom are Mexican. They represent ten different schools, including four Preparatory Schools and six Faculties. Their ages range from 22 to 55, while their experience in teaching ranges from one year to 30 years and their experience in SACs ranges from one month to three years. There are two men and ten women in this group of teachers. These 12 teachers had shown two main attitudes that had been identified as Directive Teachers and Trusting Teachers in pre-course interviews. The Directive Teachers tended to distrust the students ability for self-direction and the Trusting Teachers were more prepared to share the control and the responsibility for learning with the students (Fabela, 2009). The aim of the post-course study reported here was to explore whether the teachers had been influenced by the experience in the course and whether they had had any changes in opinions and beliefs after a teacher training course on autonomous learning. Methodology The study was carried out through Q Methodology, a method to study subjectivity in a systematic objective way that uses quantitative as well as qualitative techniques to understand subjectivity, that is, to understand the personal viewpoint of individuals on a topic of personal or social importance (McKeown & Thomas, 1988). Q Methodology is considered a qualitative method, appropriate for studies with a constructivist approach that try to understand how people make sense of some particular issues or themes. Watts and Stenner assert that it reveals: ‌the primary ways in which these themes are being interconnected or otherwise related by a group of participants. In other words, it can show us the particular 220

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 combinations or configurations of themes which are preferred by the participant group. (2005, p. 70) In order to obtain such configurations, Q methodology interviews are arranged using a collection of opinions or ‘Q statements’ about the topic being researched, in this case, issues of autonomous learning. Interviewees are asked to agree or disagree with the ‘Q Statements’. A Q statement is an opinion or a belief stated in a meaningful sentence and a Q set is the collection of Q statements. The Q set in this study consisted of a total of 44 Q statements. Each participant was asked to rank the Q statements written on cards according to his/her own opinions and score each statement under a scale that varies from two opposite views, for example, ‘I strongly agree with this opinion’ or ‘I strongly disagree’, and sometimes ‘most like me’ or ‘most unlike me’. The level of agreement or disagreement can be represented on a scale from –5 to +5 including zero, where –5 represents a strong disagreement, +5 represents a strong agreement, and a neutral position is represented by zero. The participant sorting the Q statements places every card under the scale, which is normally laid out on a table, thus producing the scores for the statistical analysis. The objectivity of Q Methodology comes from its statistical analysis which provides a systematic way to examine and reach understandings about personal experiences (McKeown & Thomas, 1988). The collection of the Q statements, which come from among all the members in the community, helps in displaying many viewpoints. Through the interviews, the participants express their own opinions based on the Q statements. Normally the Q statements are collected from the discourse of the subjects in the research, from the literature in the relevant field, from newspapers, editorials, articles and books. In this case, the Q statements were collected from the voices of students, teachers, SAC coordinators, and from the literature in the field of autonomous language learning. The researcher designed some of the statements to balance the Q set by trying to make sure that all possible viewpoints were included. The Q Statements for this study and their sources appear in the appendix. An advantage in using Q Methodology is that it can measure the intensity of the beliefs of the participants, possibly shedding light about why some attitudes might be difficult to change. The issues discussed in the Q Methodology 221

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 interviews pre and post course ranged from teacher-centeredness to learner-centeredness, distributed in seven dimensions: Autonomous learning, work in the SAC, views on language learning, the role of teachers, the role of learners, views on local culture and motivation. The results shown here report on the changes of teachers´ beliefs after the course. Results Post-course: Change in Teachers Attitudes The reader will remember that a previous study (Fabela, 2009) reported that the twelve participating teachers had allocated themselves into two ‘clusters of opinions’ or ‘components’. One cluster (formed by teachers T12, T5 and T4) showing an attitude consistent with a Directive Teacher, another cluster (T1, T2, T3, T6, T7, T8, T9, T10, T11) showing an attitude of a Trusting Teacher. This depended on whether they had a tendency towards teacher-centeredness or learner-centeredness and learner autonomy. In order to discover whether teachers’ attitudes change, a learner-centred and learner-directed in-service teacher training course was organised. As suggested by Little (1995), the course was co-produced by trainer and trainees so the aims, contents, process, learning activities and assessment were negotiated. By following the principles for learner-centeredness and autonomous learning, the contents, the processes, and the distribution of the topics for a 20-hour timetable were decided by the trainees with the teacher trainer adopting the role of the facilitator. After the teacher training course, Q sort interviews were arranged and the participating teachers scored their opinions on the same set of Q statements that were used in the previous study (Fabela, 2009). These post-course interviews produced a new dataset for the SPSS Data Reduction and Factor Analysis which are the statistical techniques used in Q Methodology and that, based on the teachers scoring of the Q statements; reveal how teachers thinking similarly will form a cluster of opinion. A teacher belonging to a particular cluster is shown numerically in a significant ‘loading’ or correlation coefficient. A loading is statistically significant if its value is greater than 2.58 x SE, where S. E. is the Standard Error calculated as 1/!N, and N is the number of Q Statements. Since in this sample N = 44, loadings greater than 0.388 are statistically significant. 222

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 Table 1. Component Matrix (a). Component from the Factor Analysis Post-course. Teachers

Component 1

T6A

.951

T12A

.936

T8A

.930

T9A

.923

T3A

.911

T10A

.876

T7A

.866

T1A

.858

T5A

.807

T2A

.770

T4A

.770

T11A

.750

Extraction Method: Principal Component Analysis. 1 component extracted. Rotated Component Matrix (a) Only one component was extracted.

The results in Table 1indicate that in the post-course interviews there was only one component or group, which means that all 12 teachers had similar views forming one cluster of similar opinions. This shows that the division in opinions precourse had disappeared. Were the opinions of teachers favouring teacher-centeredness or inclined towards learner- centeredness and learner autonomy? The teachers’ correlation coefficient to each individual Q statement from the post-course interviews (see the appendix) shows exactly how teachers scored their agreements and disagreements. A more general analysis to detect teachers’ opinions along the continuum between learner-centeredness and teacher223

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 centeredness in respect of the seven dimensions represented by the Q statements was carried out and is shown in Table 2. This general analysis is based on the correlation coefficients contained in the appendix. Given that a correlation coefficient greater-than or equal-to .8 or -.8 is considered significant the distribution between agreements and disagreements was made considering .8 or above as Agreement; -.8 or greater was a Disagreement; numbers in between -.8 and .8 were considered neutral as follows: A is used for agreement (from 0.81786 to 1.11408), D for disagreement (from -1.5315 to -0.86222) and N for neutral when loadings were low (from -0.60693 to 0.79152).

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236

Table 2. Location of Teachers’ Post-course Views on the Seven Dimensions.

Dimensions

Teacher-centred instruction. (Disagree to strongly disagree)

Learner-centred instruction. (Agree to strongly agree)

1. The role of Higher Education institutions

The only source of knowledge: Q2D, Q42D

One among many sources of knowledge: Q1A

2. Teachers’ roles (Sheerin, 1989)

Paternal, authoritarian Q15N, Q30D, Q33D, Q52D, Q57N, Q59N

Fraternal, authoritative Q8A, Q18A, Q41A, Q55N, Q56N

3. Learners’ roles

Dependent: Q5D, Q9N, Q44D, Q50D

Independent: Q3A, Q4A, Q6A, Q7A, Q10A, Q16A

4. Work in the SAC

Isolating (frustrating, unproductive) Q22N, Q23N, Q28N, Q31A,

Supportive (productive): Q19A, Q20A,Q26A,Q27A Q46A,

5. Views on language learning Reproductive (Gow & Kember, 1993; Williams Q43N, Q47D, Q48D, & Burden, 1997) Q49D 6. Views on local culture (Chandler Hindering autonomy 1983, p. 88 quoted by Jones, 1995). Q12D, Q13D, Q39D,

Meaning-based Q45N, Q54N

7. Motivation (Ushioda, 1996)

Learners’ high motivation contributes to autonomy Q34A

Learners’ low motivation hinders autonomy

Contributing to autonomy Q14A

Table 2 shows that teachers agreed that higher education institutions were only one source of knowledge among many other sources but considered that what is done in schools is relevant. It was difficult for them to either agree or disagree if the roles of teachers were paternal and assertive versus fraternal and permissive (see Sheerin, 1989). However, the teachers disagreed that learners are meant to be dependent and thought that learners should be given more opportunities to be independent. They 225

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 considered that the learners’ work in the SAC can be isolating and frustrating if learners are not supported through learner training and learner counselling and that SACs offer possibilities for students to extend their learning, to practise and to develop responsibility and autonomy. The teachers mostly disagreed that learning should be reproductive but were very tentative about it being totally meaning-based. They disagreed that culture has a hindering effect and agreed that there is a need to be competent in a rapidly-changing world. They agreed that the motivation of the learners will increase when they are given learner training and learner support in the SAC. In summary, the Trusting Teachers group confirmed their views towards learnercenteredness; and the teachers who had been in the Directive Teachers group (T12, T5, and T4) actually changed towards views more favourable to learner-centeredness by adopting similar views to those of the Trusting Teachers. Now, all 12 teachers seem to have understood the principles of autonomous learning. So, how did teachers who had been classified as Directive (Fabela, 2009), before the course, change their views after the training course on autonomous learning? A closer look at their discourse, produced as they interacted with every Q statement, will allow us to understand their thinking. Teachers’ Voices about Change As part of the Q sorting process, teachers were asked to voice their own opinions as they interacted with the Q statements. These opinions were recorded and transcribed and serve to find out what teachers think. Their opinions here are very important for two reasons; firstly, to confirm whether the course had an influence on teachers’ beliefs, and secondly, to confirm whether they are being sincere in their indicated beliefs as opposed to trying to please the interviewer, one of the risks of any interviewing process. This is difficult to know, but the discourse was analysed, teacher by teacher, to try to find contradictions. The transcripts seem to show that teachers returned to their classrooms and SACs to experiment with some of the ideas they had learned from the course, and their attempts, and their reflections on their attempts, seem authentic. 226

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 Their reflections seemed to confirm the level of agreement or disagreement expressed in the statistical loadings which showed that they all have similar opinions forming only one group, and that after the course the two groups found in the pre-course interviews as the Trusting Teachers and the Directive Teachers have merged into one group with similar opinions favouring autonomous learning. The teachers’ reflections were about: self-direction; the influence that younger teachers had on older teachers and vice versa; the feelings of uncertainty that autonomous learning entails; learning strategies; having a different role as a teacher; an increase in motivation by choosing their own topics in the teacher training course instead of having these imposed; learning pathways; the demands on time and energy that the change requires from teachers; and changing and evolving. The following opinions from Teacher T4 and Teacher T12 seem to indicate that they were not expecting to contribute, together with the facilitator, to the decision-making about how the course should be carried out: T4 about the course: We are not used to such course management, I thought you would bring all the topics we were going to see but this course adapts to our needs, to what we want, and we build it. At the beginning we all wanted to talk about motivation because that’s a problem that we all share and later we saw other topics of our interest and perhaps that brings out more interest than if the topics had been imposed. T12 About the course: From the moment you asked ‘what would you like to do in the course?’, and logically it was the first time [we heard this] and I told my friend ‘I don’t understand what’s happening, she is supposed to be teaching us’ and my friend said ‘I think they are not ready, they don’t know about this course, perhaps they got the date [for the course] wrong, I think they haven’t organised it. But then everything was focused on only one point: autonomous learning; [therefore] the course couldn’t be any other way.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 It is interesting to see that the course has given them some benefits; T4, for example, seems to have gained confidence and self-esteem to be a language advisor: T4: Before the course, I used to feel an administrative or a secretary, any other thing but not a teacher, and with the course I realised I could apply all what I learned in my BA and this is something I didn’t feel before taking the course, now I realise that when I develop activities in the SAC I can apply all what I know about the subject. As you said, we continue to be teachers but with a different role. And others benefited too, gaining some practical ideas in terms of what the teachers have to do to provide resources in SACs, but also an awareness of the time and energy that the change requires from the teachers: T9 about the course: I plan to implement the idea of the learning pathways. I’ll try to find time to prepare them. I know it is a lot of work but it’s worth it, that’s what I want to do. This section finishes with a quotation that looks towards the future with hope: T5 on Q 13: Well, it is difficult to change and to develop towards autonomous learning but I don’t agree that if we changed we would betray our culture; on the contrary, we would be evolving, so to speak. This section has shown the teachers’ voices about their own beliefs after the experiential training course. Similar to the findings of Kato (2012, p. 86) the interaction of the teachers with the Q statements in the interview process seem “to allow advisors to reflect critically and explore themselves differently in a way which might not take place in an internal dialogue or in casual workplace conversations”. The following section contains some reflections.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 Conclusions This discourse analysis, along with the statistical results, seems to show that the teacher training had a positive effect on teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards learner autonomy. It cannot be claimed that the process of the course went very smoothly as the participants - teachers and educators - experienced doubts and anxieties along the way. During the first two days of the course, teachers were reluctant to take control and the educator had to step in to assist, thus making this course more a combination of methods rather than a purely experiential method. This confirms that teachers, like learners, are at different stages of self-direction as professionals and at different levels of autonomy as learners. Initially they expected the educator to be directive. This was reflected in the results regarding their views about the role of teachers, where they did not seem convinced of the need to move from the paternal, authoritarian role of the teacher to a more fraternal and facilitating role. This could be interpreted as a cultural trait and a legacy that needs to change in the future as teachers gain more self-esteem for selfdirection. However the opportunity to co-produce the training course as in learner-centred education helped them be more aware of the processes involved in promoting autonomous learning in their own classrooms. This body of data also seems to show that teachers who had previously shown attitudes consistent with teacher-centeredness changed their attitudes towards learnercenteredness after a training course which was based on the principles of learnercenteredness and learner autonomy, and went back to their classrooms and SACs to try out some of the new ideas.

Notes on the contributor Martha Fabela is a professor at the Universidad AutĂłnoma de Nuevo LeĂłn, Faculty of Philosophy and Arts. She is responsible for educating student-teachers and in-service teachers in the bachelor and graduate programmes on ELT. Within this university she was in charge of developing 57 self-access centres and training teachers and advisors in their use and operation, and in the provision of services and support for language students. 229

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 References Aoki, N. (2002). Aspects of teacher autonomy: Capacity, freedom and responsibility. In P. Benson & S. Toogood (Eds.), Learner autonomy 7: Challenges to research and practice (pp. 110-124). Dublin, Ireland: Authentik. Benson, P. (2000). Autonomy as a learners' and teachers' right. In B. Sinclair, I. McGrath, & T. Lamb (Eds.), Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: Future directions (pp. 111-117). Harlow, UK: Longman. Benson, P. (2007). Teachers’ and learners’ perspectives on autonomy. In T. E. Lamb & H. Reinders (Eds.), Learner and teacher autonomy: Concepts, realities and responses (pp. 15-32) Amsterdam, the Netherlands: John Benjamins. Chan, V. (2003). Autonomous language learning: The teacher's perspectives. Teaching in Higher Education, 8(1), 33-54. Chandler, D. (1983). A history of Cambodia. Boulder, CO: Westview. Cotterall, S. (1995). Developing a course strategy for learner autonomy. ELT Journal, 49(3), 219-227. Dam, L. (1995). Learner autonomy: From theory to classroom practice. Dublin, Ireland: Authentik. Ellis, G., & Sinclair, B. (1989). Learning to learn English. A course in learner training. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Fabela-Cárdenas, M.A. (2009). Teachers’ attitudes on learning autonomy in the context of self-access language centres. Lenguas en Aprendizaje AutoDirigido Revista Electrónica, 3(1). Retreived from cad.cele.unam.mx/leaa Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (1999). Establishing self-access. From theory to practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Garton-Sprenger, J. (1990). Training learners to learn. In D. Hill & S. Holden (Eds.), Effective teaching and learning (pp. 58-63). Oxford, UK: Modern English Publications. Gow, L., & Kember, D. (1993). Conceptions of teaching and their relationship to student learning. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 63, 20-33. Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and foreign language learning. Oxford, UK: Pergamon Press. Illich, I. (1971). Deschooling society. Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin. 230

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Jones, J. F. (1995). Self-access and culture: retreating from autonomy. ELT Journal, 49(3), 228-234. Kato, S. (2012). Professional development for learning advisors: Facilitating the intentional reflective dialogue. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(1), 7492. Lamb, T. (2000). Finding a voice: Learner autonomy and teacher education in an urban context. In B. Sinclair, I. McGrath, & T. Lamb (Eds.), Learner autonomy teacher autonomy: Future directions (pp. 118-127). Harlow, UK: Longman. Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy: Definitions, issues and problems. Dublin, Ireland: Authentik Little, D. (1995). Learning as dialogue: The dependence of learner autonomy on teacher autonomy. System, 23(2), 175-181. Lowes, R., & Target F. (1998). Helping students to learn. London, UK: Richmond Publishing. McGrath, I. (2000) Teacher Autonomy. In B. Sinclair, I. McGrath, & T. Lamb (Eds.), Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: Future directions (pp. 100-110). Harlow, UK: Longman. McKeown, B., & Thomas, D. (1988). Q Methodology. London, UK: Sage Publications. Nakata, Y. (2011). Teachers’ readiness for promoting learner autonomy: A study of Japanese EFL high school teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education, 27(5), 900910. Nunan, D. (1988). The Learner-centred curriculum. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Reinders, H., & Lazaro, N. (2011). Beliefs, identity and motivation in implementing autonomy: The teacher’s perspective. In G. Murray, A. Gao & T. Lamb (Eds.), Identity, motivation and autonomy in language learning. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Sheerin, S. (1989). Self-access. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. Sinclair, B., McGrath I., & Lamb, T. (Eds.) (2000). Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: Future directions. English Language Teaching Review. Harlow, UK: Longman. Smith, R. C. (2000). Starting with ourselves: Teacher learner autonomy in language 231

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 learning. In B. Sinclair, I. McGrath & T. Lamb (Eds.), Learner autonomy: Teacher autonomy: Future directions (pp. 89-99). Harlow, UK: Longman. Smith, R. C. (2001). Teacher education for teacher-learner autonomy. In J. Gollin, G. Ferguson, & H. Trappes-Lomax (Eds), Language in language teacher education (CD version). Edinburgh, Scotland: IALS, University of Edinburgh. Ushioda E. (1996) Learner autonomy 5: The role of motivation. Dublin, Ireland: Authentik Voller, P. (1997). Does the teacher have a role in autonomous language learning? In P. Benson & P. Voller (Eds.), Autonomy and independence in language learning. (pp. 98-113). Harlow, UK: Longman. Yang, N. D. (1998). Exploring a new role for teachers: Promoting learner autonomy. System, 26(1), 127. Williams, M., & Burden, R. (1997). Psychology for language teachers: A social constructivist approach. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Watts, S., & Stenner, P. (2005). Doing Q Methodology: Theory, method and interpretation. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 2, 67-91.

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Appendix. Teachers loadings for Q statements Post-Course Correlation Q Statement Coefficient -1.5315

-1.51785 -1.43862

2. Teachers and universities are the only ones with the obligation to teach the students and they must give all the information and all the knowledge students will need in their active life as adults (Q by the researcher). 39. The school and any type of learning must be solemn and boring for it to be serious and effective. It´s not possible to learn effectively and have fun at the same time (Q by the researcher). 42. Nothing you do at school matters anyway. (Lowes &Target, 1998).

-1.43219

5. In a teaching-learning situation the teacher has 100% responsibility for the students´ learning. The students only need to obey the teacher because the teacher knows best (Q by the researcher).

-1.40058

13. Under the Mexican culture it is very difficult to change and develop towards a culture of autonomous and independent learning (from a teacher). 52. The teacher should decide what happens in the lesson. It is important that the teacher stays in control of the lesson. The teacher should know the best way for the students to learn. Students are in class to listen to the teacher and learn from her/him (Lowes &Target, 1998, p. 15). 49. There is a “right” way to learn and the teacher knows it (Lowes & Target, 1998, p. 15). 50. Independent learning is for very brilliant people, almost genius. All the rest, we need teachers to teach us, and to impose discipline and control. We don’t do anything on our own (Q by the researcher). 44. You learn by listening and doing as you are told rather than by working things out for yourself (Lowes & Target, 1998). 12. Traditional teaching, whereby the teacher has all the knowledge, all the authority, and all the responsibility for the students´ learning, is the best option we have. That’s the way we have always done it and that’s the way that works the best (Q by the researcher). 47. Students cannot evaluate their own learning (Lowes & Target, 1998).

-1.32057

-1.28829 -1.28805 -1.24795 -1.16742

-1.05245 -0.95215

30. The role of the teacher in the classroom should be the traditional role of teaching English in the classroom. Students need strict and close supervision. The idea of working in the SAC is nonsense. The students have neither willingness nor ability to study on their own. Teachers have to push them to come and study in the SAC (Q by the researcher).

-0.92732

48. You only learn because you are forced to (Lowes & Target, 1998).

-0.86222

33. The teachers in the SAC have no will and no ability to train students on how to learn. The students don’t want to learn how to learn (Q by the 233

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 researcher). -0.60693

57. Teachers don’t like training learners on how to learn, they prefer teaching them English only (from SAC Coordinator).

-0.59570

15. Students have to be closely supervised otherwise they will take unexpected paths that teachers didn’t indicate. Students need to be checked frequently so they don’t go wild and they don’t go where they shouldn’t (from a teacher). 45. Some people- only a few- have a gift for languages (Lowes & Target, 1998). 56. Tutoring students enrolled in AL is less tiring than teaching and preparing lessons since the teaching timetables are fixed while the tutoring timetables are flexible (from SAC Coordinator). 43. What you learn in the English course cannot help you in the engineering [or any undergraduate] courses (adapted from Lowes & Target, 1998). 55. Normally in my English lessons my students and I make joint decisions about the planning, pacing and evaluating of the activities for the classroom (Cotterall, 1995). 28. The information given to the learner when s/he is enrolling in the SAC for AL is very limited. That’s why the learners feel insecure at the beginning. I think the information should be clear, simple and friendly (from a student).

-0.56432 -0.52257 -0.46918 0.03378 0.10278

0.16282

0.29553 0.46663

0.55724 0.65385 0.78288

0.79152

59. For a teacher, teaching is easier that tutoring. For teaching they can have everything planned and programmed, while tutoring requires studentcentred programmes and timetables (from a SAC Coordinator). 54. The most meaningful part of what I have learnt, I’ve learnt it outside the classroom (adapted from Jones, 1995 citing Illich, 1971). 22. Learners are lazy and have no self-discipline, they don´t do anything by themselves. The teachers have to put them under pressure for them to study. If students are not made to present their work to the teacher then they don’t do any work (from the teachers’ team in discussions). 23.The flexibility of AL is attractive to the students but when they feel alone and they don’t feel at ease in the SAC they loose motivation due to the fact they are not used to this type of learning (from a student ). 9. Learners who always depend on the teacher will have difficulty operating outside the classroom (Garton-Sprenger, 1989). 8. Teachers should stop worrying about being better teachers, and spend more time helping our students to become better learners. In this context, the teacher is a guide rather than a Goddess), who provides students with information about the learning process and who helps them take responsibility for their own learning (Garton-Sprenger, 1989). 4. Teachers should help students develop their ability to make their own decisions about what to do rather than being influenced by others or told 234

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0.81786

0.83042 0.92856

0.96486

1.00966

1.01036

1.04133

1.04464

1.05654 1.06914 1.07266

what to do (Dam, 1995, p. 4). 7. It is impossible for the teacher to please all students all of the time, particularly given the constraints of course-books, syllabuses requirements, exams, etc. It is therefore important that students formulate their own realistic objectives and develop their own learning strategies (Garton-Sprenger, 1989, p. 59). 18. In AL the student does not feel pushed by the teacher or by the group but s/he learns at his/her own pace. However, it is necessary that a teacher is there to support me (from a student). 27. When a student enrols for the CR+SAC programme, s/he must be willing to learn and willing to dedicate the time required and be aware that what the teacher teaches is not enough, that s/he must practice on his/her own (From a student). 46. At the beginning, when a student is using the SAC for the first time s/he might feel insecure, shy, and uncomfortable but as soon as he begins to use the SAC regularly he stops being afraid and feels more confident to make decisions and take actions (from a student). 3. It is more important for a young person to have an understanding of himself or herself, an awareness of the environment and its workings, and to have learned how to think and how to learn (Trim, 1984, p. 6 cited in Dam, 1995, p. 3). 6. Learners should know how to choose what they need to learn, the teacher must be available to present them with all the possible sources and all the possible strategies to use the sources and to learn. Q by the researcher as opposite to Q. 5) 31. Students read in the newspaper that most companies require graduates from engineering who are proficient in English but despite this SS don’t do any extra effort to learn English. They think that a 50 minute lesson per day is more than enough. They don’t come to the SAC to extend their learning (teachers team in discussions). 20. Students in the SAC (in their practice) acquire more knowledge because they confirm what was seen in the classroom and they learn to be more autonomous and responsible and organised with their time (from a student). 26. AL helps the student to have some initiative, because s/he is not limited by the teacher, s/he can do more than what the teacher suggests (from a student). 1. No school or even university can provide its pupils with all the knowledge and the skills they will need in their adult lives (Trim, 1984, p. 6 quoted by Dam, 1995). 14. The world is changing rapidly; there is always new information to be learnt. We must learn to learn new knowledge, discoveries, and developments on our own for the times when there will be no teacher to teach us. If we don’t learn on our own we won’t be competent and efficient at a local level let alone worldwide (from a student). 235

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 215-236 1.09136 1.09226

1.09356 1.10155 1.11408

41. Not everything a learner needs to know can be taught in class (Nunan, 1988). 34. If students understand how the SAC works and how to take advantage of the materials and resources existing in the SAC, they would feel more confident to study in the SAC on their own. With a good learner training it would be possible that students want to, and are able to study in the SAC without being pushed by the teacher (Q by the researcher). 19. A student working in the SAC is not limited to only one book, or topic, or skill, etc. but s/he has the opportunity to study or practice in all the areas (from a student). 16. AL gives us more independence since we come to realize that we can learn on our own without needing to be depending on the teacher (from a student). 10. Learning to learn autonomously is the best way to invest my time in the university to be able to learn whatever comes in the future when I am no longer in the university (Q by the researcher).

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Scaffolding Students’ Initial Self-Access Language Centre Experiences Robert Croker, Nanzan University, Japan Umida Ashurova, Sugiyama Jogakuen University, Japan Abstract As the number of self-access language centres (SALCs) in Japanese universities continues to grow, so too does the challenge of successfully introducing them to first-year university students, whose initial experiences of self-access language learning may otherwise be confusing and even unsettling. One approach is to carefully scaffold students’ first SALC encounters by connecting them with their classroom learning experiences. This paper discusses one such approach developed at a private university in central Japan, which was based upon a two-stage ‘push-pull’ ‘materials-light, peoplefocused’ strategy. Teachers initially ‘pushed’ their students to visit the SALC by giving them speaking ‘homework’ to be done there. The SALC then also offered interesting interactive events designed to ‘pull’ learners to continue to come. These push-pull activities could be done with few or no materials, and emphasized interaction with people rather than materials. This two-stage, pushpull strategy served as a bridge between the language classroom and a SALC, helping learners make the first steps in their transition from being a ‘classroom English learner’ to becoming a ‘SALC English user’. Keywords: connecting to the classroom, SALC activities, learner motivation

For many first-year Japanese university students, attending a self-access learning centre (SALC) can be daunting. From their experience, English has often been a language that has been taught inside the classroom under the direct supervision and control of the teacher. The freedom of a SALC may easily bewilder these students. That freedom challenges their assumptions about learning by asking them to accept that a language is primarily learned and not taught, that this learning can occur outside the classroom and beyond the teacher’s gaze, and that it can be a collaborative, self-directed endeavour. Given this gulf between their previous learning experiences and the ‘foreign culture’ of a SALC (Jones, 1995), it is perhaps not surprising that many first-year students are apprehensive about beginning to engage in self-access learning. To help first-year students overcome this initial hesitance to step foot in a SALC, a twostage, push-pull strategy was developed by the English program on the Seto Campus of Nanzan University, Japan, for its SALC, called the World Plaza, when it initially opened in 2006. Starting in the first weeks of the spring semester, first-year English communication and reading teachers ‘pushed’ their students to go to the World Plaza by giving them interactive speaking projects and tasks to do there, instead of, or in addition to, regular class homework. Then, from the middle of the !

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! first semester, events were also held in the World Plaza to ‘pull’ students there, such as having regular chat time, lunchtime discussion clubs, movie clubs, a language clinic, and guest speakers. This two-stage, push-pull strategy was successful in helping many first-year students develop the habit of regularly coming to the centre. This strategy also dovetailed with two crucial features of the World Plaza: a ‘materials-light, people-focused’ approach which emphasized students interacting with each other rather than with materials; and a ‘no using Japanese’ speaking rule. These features put interacting in English at the very heart of the World Plaza, a noisy, bustling space about the size of a high-school classroom. It was assumed that the students were the primary, and sufficient, learning resource. By doing so, students could change the way they see themselves, from being ‘classroom English learners’ to becoming ‘SALC English users’ – students who enjoyed coming to the SALC to use English and to participate in the English language learning community that developed there. Stage One: Connecting the Classroom to a SALC Experiences in other programs There is now a growing body of research that supports explicitly linking the classroom with a SALC. The research David Gardner and Lindsey Miller conducted at universities in Hong Kong in the mid-1990s (as reported in Gardner & Miller, 2010) found that there were weak links between classroom instruction and SALCs, as the self-access programs had been developed independently from classroom teaching. However, when they repeated their study in Hong Kong in 2010, they found that there was much more integration. One way that classrooms were being integrated with SALCs there was through project-based learning, a strategy that Gardner and Miller had first advocated over a decade earlier: “Although a project may be started in class, learners could use selfaccess facilities and libraries to continue their work; …. In this way classroom-based learning can be linked with a self-access centre” (Gardner & Miller, 1999, p. 167). There are also some published reports of a shift to a closer integration of classroom activities with a SALC through projects and tasks in the Japanese university context. One example is Gene Thompson and Lee Atkinson’s account of project-based learning at a private university in Hiroshima (Thompson & Atkinson, 2010). There, classroom learning was connected to materials and resources in the university SALC through activities and projects. These were skillfully designed to serve as an ongoing orientation for first-year students to the SALC and its resources. Each activity the learners did there used different resources or areas of the SALC, designed around specific ‘pathways’ to introduce learners to the centre. Thompson and Atkinson found that “[p]roviding specific pathways into the SALC gave even the most reluctant learners a clear reason !

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! and objective for using the center” (Thompson & Atkinson, 2010, p. 53). Similarly, Hamish Gillies (2010) suggested scaffolding such reluctant learners’ initial jump from the classroom to the SALC with short and achievable tasks that the teacher sets and practices in the classroom before learners complete them in the SALC. For Gillies, the goal is to introduce learners to the SALC through interactive and collaborative activities so that their first experiences there are enjoyable and successful. The Nanzan University, Seto Campus case In the case of Nanzan University, in preparation for the opening in 2006 of the World Plaza on the Seto Campus, the twelve teachers in the English program, which included Robert (one of the authors of this paper), began discussing its concept and operation. We decided that the World Plaza itself would be staffed by one full-time and two part-time ‘World Plaza Assistants’, would be open from 10am to 6pm weekdays, and funded initially by a four-year Japanese government ‘Gendai GP’ grant. We also decided that the World Plaza would have relatively few language learning materials – only some newspapers, magazines, DVDs of movies and sitcoms, and two flat-screen TVs – but many tables, chairs and sofas where learners could sit and interact with each other. Benson had reminded us that “organizational aspects of the center and its resources convey messages to learners about the nature of language learning” (2001, p. 119), and that open areas for interaction emphasize that language learning is a process of communication and collaboration (Benson, 1995). We also considered how we could introduce this new learning space to our non-English major students, many of whom seemed to be quite reluctant learners. We decided to focus on firstyear students. In the first year of university, language identities are forged, and these identities strongly shape SALC use, as Hamish Gillies’s subsequent research confirmed (2010). Realizing that it would be particularly important to provide support to students who come to the World Plaza for the first time (Hughes, Krug, and Vye, 2012), we decided to carefully scaffold these learners’ first experiences in the World Plaza through ‘push activities’ – interactive language projects and tasks that classroom teachers could give their students that ‘pushed’ them to go there. Each teacher set their own push activities in class, and learners first practiced them there before doing them later in the World Plaza. The information that each learner collected in the World Plaza could then be used in later classes for further activities – so connecting the World Plaza back to the classroom. A colleague, David Barker, dubbed these projects and tasks ‘World Plaza ACtivities', or WPACs (pronounced ‘wa-paks’) for short. To help make these push activities clear, here are three examples (you can find more examples in Appendix A):

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! Language learning histories – done with a senior student: To prepare for the WPAC, learners first interviewed two or three classmates during class time about their language learning experiences, using both questions given by their teacher and also their own. After class, in the World Plaza, each learner then interviewed one senior student to create a language learning history of that person, which the learner condensed into a bullet point form. In the following class, learners summarized this language learning history to a partner. Partners compared their own and their senior’s language learning histories. This project gave the first-year students the opportunity to meet learners in the upper years, many of whom were quite motivated to study English. Travel preferences survey – done with first-year students from other classes: Using questions that students themselves had created in class, learners interviewed four or five students from other classes who were in the World Plaza about their travel preferences (Would you prefer to stay in a hotel or a ryokan? Travel by bus or train? Schedule lots of activities or have lots of free time?), and reported the results back to a partner in the next class. The two partners compared their results, then the class jigsawed so each partner could summarize these differences to a new partner. Such projects socialized the whole first-year to work together in the World Plaza. Describing pictures – done with one student from the same class: Learners practiced describing pictures in class, using language practice sheets. In the World Plaza, learners selected three pictures from the magazines on display there, took a photo of them with their phone, and practiced describing them for a ‘mini-presentation’ to a different partner in the next class. In class, this partner then chose one picture to describe back to the presenter, who listened and helped if necessary. This project prepared students for their mid-term speaking test, and it helped learners become used to the idea of practicing English outside class for assignments and tests. World Plaza ACtivities (WPACs) WPACs were different from regular language class homework. Regular homework was assigned to be done individually but the key feature of WPACs was that they were done interactively with other students, and often with students from other classes. Another distinction was that regular homework often required learners to read and write to prepare them for more interactive communicative tasks in class whereas WPACs obliged learners to also speak and listen – the interactive communicative tasks were ‘the homework’. Getting learners to speak and listen was !

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! consistent with the interactive nature of the World Plaza, and to focus on language as a tool for communication rather than exam preparation. It also helped to develop a language learning community that, as previous research indicates, motivates learners to continue to use a SALC (Hughes, Krug and Vye, 2011), as discussed further below. To keep students accountable for their work in the World Plaza, all WPACs had to receive an authorized stamp or signature in order for students to get credit. Moreover, due to their interactive nature, cheating on WPACs or doing the tasks in Japanese was made quite difficult. One shortcoming of WPACs was that they had to be done in the World Plaza, and only during opening times, while regular homework could be done almost anywhere and at any time. However, students could and did negotiate to do WPACs outside the World Plaza if they had a pressing reason, such as being unable to go to the World Plaza that week, or preferring to do the WPAC with a family member or particular friend. This extended the learning space beyond the World Plaza to the broader world – which in fact was the real goal of the WPACs. Table 1 summarizes the differences between regular homework and WPACs. Table 1: Comparing regular homework on the Seto Campus and WPACs Regular Homework

World Plaza Activities (WPACs)

Done individually

Done interactively with other learners

Often requires learners only to read and write but not speak or listen

Can focus primarily on listening and speaking

The teacher is unsure whether it is done in English or not

Definitely done in English, due to the ‘no using Japanese language’ policy in the World Plaza

The teacher is unsure whether it is done by the student him/herself

Definitely done by the student if it is signed or stamped by peers, volunteer students, or World Plaza staff

Can be done anywhere

Must be done in the World Plaza

In order to ensure that learners had enjoyable and successful initial self-access learning experiences, they had to understand clearly how to do each WPAC. As learners were unfamiliar with them at the beginning of the semester, every WPAC was carefully designed to be fun and achievable, and each one was introduced carefully in class. WPACs were based upon the topics, tasks, and activities done in class, using language that learners had already prepared there. To create !

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! an expectation that learners would be able to succeed, each WPAC was first modelled and practiced in class, giving learners opportunities to make those inevitable first mistakes and ask questions about how to avoid them. It also gave teachers a chance to identify and address any potential unforeseen problems. Additionally, to promote positive interactions among students, appropriate attitudes in the World Plaza were also discussed. For example, teachers and students discussed being positive about speaking English, being open to helping other learners do their WPACs, and being challenged by World Plaza experiences. Learners seemed to carry those attitudes into the centre, where they facilitated learner interaction and helped make the experience enjoyable and successful. Interacting in the World Plaza became an opportunity for learners to extend their language comfort zones. In our English program, each teacher could determine how to link WPACs to their own classroom. Some teachers regularly gave WPACs every week, and for some courses 10% of class grades were based upon them. Also, some teachers required all learners in a class to do certain WPACs, but made other WPACs optional. However, of these optional WPACs, learners may have been required to do a certain number (say, two or three) over a semester. Since learners were busy with club activities, part-time jobs, and homework from other classes, they were given at least a week to complete a WPAC. To prove that they had done their WPAC appropriately, when learners had completed one they got the signature of their WPAC partners and of the World Plaza staff on their WPAC sheet. Also, there was a World Plaza attendance stamp card system called the World Plaza Passport. Learners received one stamp for each 30 minutes they were in the World Plaza. For attending a regular event, learners received a blue stamp and for completing a WPAC, learners received a red stamp. The World Plaza Assistants would also note the date the WPACs were done. When learners had finished their first ‘bronze’ level stamp card, they would move up to the silver, gold, and then member levels, which motivated many learners to keep coming back to the World Plaza. Who could learners do their WPACs with? At the beginning of the semester, teachers allocated WPAC partners in class before going to the World Plaza to help ease learners’ initial trepidations. However, we soon found that it was better to allow learners to select their own partners, either before going to the World Plaza or once they were there. The World Plaza Assistants, one of whom was Umida (the other author of this paper, and the full-time World Plaza Assistant during this project who developed many of the pull activities), could also help learners find a partner if necessary. It was easiest for learners to do WPACs with learners from the same class. Classmates knew the context and purpose of the WPAC, and had practiced the necessary language. However, learners were often required to do their WPACs with learners from other classes, or encouraged to invite friends from other classes to go to the World Plaza to do them !

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! together. Doing WPACs with learners from other classes proved to be more challenging and exciting, and helped build the sense of there being a World Plaza community that spanned the entire school. Moreover, in ‘managing’ such WPAC interactions with students from different classes, learners needed to explain the ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ of the WPAC, and also help the other learner with the language needed to complete the task. In so doing, learners had to use a broader array of language resources than they would with a classmate and there was much more opportunity for unexpected responses and language. For example, for the travel preferences survey, the learner had to explain to the student from the other class what the survey was, why it would be interesting to do, and describe how to complete it; also, the students from the other classes might use language that the learner had not practiced in her own class. However, we found that it was better to wait until learners had become familiar with the idea of doing WPACs before expecting them to work with students from other classes, and to keep these WPACs simple and straightforward. Conceptualizing push activities One way we thought about push activities was in terms of how teacher-directed or learnerdirected they were. For example, when a WPAC was an interview, if the teacher decided the topic and all of the questions and the learners only chose their partners, then this WPAC was relatively teacher-directed. On the other hand, if the learners could decide the topic and write their own interview questions, then this WPAC was more learner-directed. The distinction is important because making WPACs more learner-directed over the semester and year led learners to take more control over their own learning and develop greater autonomy. Another way we thought about WPACs was in terms of how many World Plaza materials it required. For example, an interview required no World Plaza resources, as learners would bring questions on their own paper and just chat to other learners there. Such an activity was ‘materials light’. However, if the WPAC needed the learners to watch a DVD, read a newspaper or magazine, or play English language board games, then it required more materials. This distinction is important because the availability of materials could be a major constraint on projects and tasks, particularly when a SALC newly opens or has a limited budget, an issue that Thompson and Atkinson (2010) also discovered. The framework in Figure 1 categorises WPACs along two continuums. The horizontal continuum represents the degree to which WPACs were teacher- or learner-directed. WPACs on the left were more teacher-directed, whereas WPACs on the right were more learner-directed. The vertical continuum represents the amount of material required. WPACs at the top of Figure 1 required few or no materials, whereas WPACs at the bottom required more materials and these materials were either permanently kept in the World Plaza or put there for just a short period of !

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! time. In the top-left quadrant, then, are activities that are teacher directed and materials light, whereas in the top-right quadrant are activities that are learner directed but still materials light. In the bottom-left quadrant are activities that are teacher directed but more materials heavy, while in the bottom-right quadrant are activities that are learner directed but more materials heavy. All of the example WPACs are explained in more detail in Appendix A.

Figure 1. Push activities – WPACs framework Stage Two: Offering Events to Continue to ‘Pull’ Students into a SALC The bridge from the classroom to self-directed learning The WPAC projects helped first-year learners develop the habit of going to the World Plaza regularly but they were just the first stage in scaffolding learners towards using the World Plaza regularly. The second stage was holding events in the World Plaza that pulled learners to keep visiting there of their own volition. This two-stage, push-pull process is represented in Figure 2.

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Figure 2: Developing greater learner-directedness: push projects and pull events Note: Adapted from Jones (1998). World Plaza pull events were organized regularly throughout the week, and advertised throughout the campus on posters and on the English program website. Most events were held during lunchtimes, and learners could eat their lunch then. At the beginning of lunchtime each day, the World Plaza Assistant would invite learners to join the events through the campus loudspeaker system. At other times of the day, including after fourth period, other events were also scheduled. Some events were held once a week, some twice or more. Here are two example pull events, both mostly for lower-level learners (more examples are provided in Appendix B): English Conversation Lounge: Learners dropped by to chat with the Assistants and other learners about light topics. Serving as the core of World Plaza community-building, this event created opportunities each day for learners to talk to each other without worrying about their proficiency. A special event called ‘Beginners’ Paradise’ was arranged for elementary-level learners. Travel Club: Learners could share their travel experiences and information about previous and prospective destinations for leisure travel, study-abroad programs, and home stays. Enthusiastic senior students eager to share their travel experiences, and junior students thinking about, or dreaming about, their next trips, usually participated. Learners were encouraged to bring photos and other mementoes. Crossing that bridge with other learners Motivating learners to continue to use English outside the classroom, beyond homework and !

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! structured activities like WPACs, is arguably one of the biggest challenges facing any EFL language program. Successful learning in itself can be very motivating, and learners who regularly attend a SALC have been reported to improve their English proficiencies more than double those of learners who do not attend (Vye, Krug, Wurzinger, and Hughes, 2011, and Krug, Wurzinger, Hughes, and Vye, 2011, both cited in Hughes, Krug and Vye, 2011). But these successes may take time to become apparent. What is the key to helping learners reach that point? Leander Hughes and his colleagues Nathan Krug and Stacey Vye (2012) found that the reasons learners at a public Japanese university went to their SALC changed over time. Initially, learners went because they felt that it would help them to learn English; however, the most common reason for continuing to visit was primarily social; that is, they felt that they had become members of a learning community there. Also, the teacher pushing learners to go to the SALC became a less important reason over time, and the presence of resources there was not particularly significant at any point (Hughes, Krug and Vye, 2012). The authors concluded that the key to fostering long-term motivation to attend a SALC lies in nurturing the establishment of social bonds between learners. These findings are consistent with the push-pull approach we had adopted. In the first stage, the teachers designed WPACs that got learners to see the World Plaza as a learning space outside the classroom. In this learning space, learners could interact with learners from other classes and years, and this began to socialize learners into the World Plaza language learning community. In the second stage, the role of the teacher becomes less important, and the World Plaza Assistants facilitated the development of a learning community by organizing many events each week that were interesting, appealing, and most importantly, interactive – reflecting the greater emphasis placed on socializing and community-building. Moreover, the materials-light nature of the World Plaza was not important to most learners, who did not see resources as a major reason to visit the World Plaza. Conceptualizing pull events We thought about pull events in a similar way to the push activities; in terms of how many materials they required. However, rather than thinking of pull events in terms of being teacherdirected or learner-directed, we conceptualized them in terms of which level of learner they were best suited for, i.e. lower-level learners or higher-level learners. Figure 3 illustrates this framework, and provides examples of each type of pull event, which are all explained in more detail in Appendix B.

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Figure 3. Pull activities – World Plaza events framework Lower-level learners would often initially choose to attend easy and fun social events and later try more challenging events. Higher-level learners would often go directly to the more difficult events, and some even gave presentations as lunchtime guest speakers. Less confident learners’ journeys would often follow a similar route; first, they might participate in lower-level interactive events and later try higher-level ones. The more adventurous learners might later become lunchtime guest speakers. In so doing, the student guest speakers acted as guides or near-peer role models (Murphey, 1996) for other learners. Conclusion Thompson and Atkinson (2010) remind us that it is important not to dichotomize learning experiences into the classroom versus a SALC, but rather to think in terms of the degree to which they can be integrated – from weak integration to strong integration. For the Seto Campus English program teachers, the push-pull strategy offered an approach that increased that integration in a way that made sense to our learners. It scaffolded their journey from more structured teacher-directed activities begun in their classrooms through to more learner-directed projects that occurred in a SALC. The journey our students undertook at the World Plaza was a people-focused process that !

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! did not require many resources or even staff – just learners, a space, and a strategy to skillfully link the two together. It was a strategy that recognized that learners have different motivational triggers, and sought to provide multiple opportunities for them to explore new learning experiences and learner identities as they developed from being a ‘classroom English learner’ toward being a ‘SALC English user’, actively contributing to the development of the language learning community there. Notes on the contributors Robert Croker is from Australia, and he continues to teach in the English program on the Seto Campus of Nanzan University, where his students are still going to the World Plaza. His research interests include qualitative research and action research methods. Umida Ashurova is originally from Uzbekistan and currently teaches English at Sugiyama Jogakuen University, Japan. She began her career in EFL in Japan at the World Plaza, and was the first World Plaza Assistant. Her research interests include integration of self-access into curriculum and practice of English as a lingua franca. Acknowledgements We would like to acknowledge that the ideas in this paper are not just our own, but belong to all of the Nanzan University Seto campus English program teachers, particularly Yoshikazu C. Watanabe, who originally conceived the World Plaza concept, and David Barker, the first World Plaza coordinator. We would also like to acknowledge Monkasho Gendai GP funding for this project. References Benson, P. (1995). Self-access and collaborative learning. Independence 12, 6-11. Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (1999). Establishing self-access: From theory to practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (2010). Beliefs about self-access learning: Reflections on 15 years of change. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 1(3),161-172. Gillies, H. (2010). Listening to the learner: A qualitative investigation of motivation for embracing or avoiding the use of self-access centres. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 1(3), 189-211. !

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! Hughes, L. S., Krug, N. P., & Vye, S. L. (2011). The growth of an out-of-class learning community through autonomous socialization at a self-access center. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2(4), 281-291. Hughes, L. S., Krug, N. P., & Vye, S. L. (2012). Advising practices: A survey of self-access motivations and preferences. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(2), 163-181. Jones, F. R. (1998). Self-instruction and success: A learner profile study. Applied Linguistics, 19(3), 378-406. Jones, J. (1995). Self-access and culture: Retreating from autonomy. ELT Journal, 49(3), 228-234. Murphey, T. (l996). Near peer role models. Teachers Talking To Teachers: JALT Teacher Education SIG Newsletter, 4(3), 21-22. Thompson, G., & Atkinson, L. (2010). Integrating self-access into the curriculum: Our experience. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 1(1), 47-58.

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! Appendices Appendix A Examples of Push Activities (WPACs) (organized in terms of the degree the activity is teacher or learner directed, and the amount of World Plaza resources required) teacher-directed,

learner-directed,

materials-light

materials-light

The Survey Space and Discussion Point: Learners

Telling Tales: Learners read stories in class or for

from the same or different classes surveyed each

homework, then practiced telling them to each

other or discussed class topics.

other during class. In the World Plaza, learners

Topics: Language learning histories; travel, food, and sport preferences; opinions on fashion and

practiced re-telling the stories, or mixing them together to create new ones.

prevailing social expectations; personal topics

Topics: Japanese and foreign folktales, Eiken

(hometown, club).

picture stories, learners’ own stories.

Outcomes: Learners wrote their partners’

Outcomes: Learners’ own unique stories;

answers under each question on the WPAC interview recordings and transcriptions, or write-ups of sheet. Learners could also summarize their

stories. Learners could also retell their new stories

discussions as a mind-map, in bullet-point form, or

in the next class.

as a poster to share in the next class.

Materials: The original stories.

Materials: WPAC interview sheet with teachergenerated questions.

Chat Pals: Learners chatted with other learners

Note: If learners decided their own topic and

from the same or a different class.

wrote their own questions, this could make this

Topics: Class-related topics, or anything else

WPAC more learner-directed.

that learners wanted to talk about. Outcomes: A record of their chat topics and

The Test Drive: Learners practiced for mid-term

chat partners on a ‘WPAC chat sheet’ (with

speaking tests with other learners from the same

vertical columns listing the date, time, partner’s

class, self-evaluating using the speaking rubric.

name, and chat topic), in their learning logs, or

Topics: Casual conversations, picture stories.

simply on their stamp-cards.

Outcomes: Completed speaking test rubric,

Materials: The WPAC chat sheet.

preparation for the speaking tests. Materials: Speaking test rubric.

Comment: Such WPACs reflect communication in the real world – learners choose what they want

Comment: These WPACs are the easiest to

to do, and the resources are just their own

organize, and require no World Plaza materials.

language proficiency, curiosity and creativity.

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teacher-directed, materials-heavy

learner-directed, materials-heavy

Discussion Record: Learners recorded a short

Tube Talk: After practicing discussing sit-coms

discussion (e.g. 5 minutes) with a partner. Some

and movies in class, two learners watched one

teachers also required students to transcribe part of

together in the World Plaza. Then, they

that recording, correcting their mistakes.

summarized the story to each other and discussed

Topics: Personal topics, such as home town or part-time job, through to more academic topics such as international relations, the environment, or

the themes. Learners could also watch documentaries together. Topics: Class-related topics such as personal

Japan’s economy.

relationships, families, famous people’s

Outcomes: Digital recording, transcripts.

biographies, history, identity.

Materials: small digital recorders (or learners’ own smart phones).

Outcomes: For extra credit, learners could represent their ideas in a mind-map or an essay, or write discussion questions to bring to the

Art and Style: Learners described pictures to each other, using language practiced in class.

following class. Materials: Any sitcom or movie in the World

Topics: Artists’ pictures, ads, newspaper photos,

Plaza, or available on TV.

Internet news photos. Outcomes: Partner presentations in the next class, speaking test practice preparation.

The Quest: Learners practiced strategies for asking and answering questions in class, then

Materials: Magazines, newspapers, art books, cut-

played question and answer games such as the

out or downloaded pictures, and the WPAC language Cathy’s Cards or wrote their own lists of sheet with suggested phrases.

questions to put on their own, self-created board games (similar to snakes and ladders).

The Language Shadow: Advanced level learners

Topics: Any classroom-related topic.

taking an interpretation class were paired and

Outcomes: Learners became much more

assigned to translate newscasts and documentaries from the BBC or CNN. One learner listened and

proficient at asking and answering questions. Materials: Cathy’s Cards, Deck, or snakes and

translated for a certain period of time, such as thirty

ladders-type boards.

seconds, without looking at the screen. Their partner checked the accuracy of the translation against the

Comment: Learners prepared for these WPACs in

subtitles.

class using language and strategies illustrated by

Topics: Current news topics and affairs.

the teacher, but had greater control over

Outcomes: Interpretation notes.

completing them using World Plaza materials.

Materials: A TV with English news. !

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! Appendix B Examples of Pull Activities (organized in terms of the language level of the activity, and the amount of World Plaza resources required)

lower-level, materials-light

higher-level, materials-light

English Conversation Lounge: Learners drop by

Travel Club: Learners share their travel

to chat with the Assistants and other learners,

experiences and information.

either on the sofas or at the tables.

Topics: Previous and prospective destinations

Topics: Light topics (e.g. family, pastimes,

for leisure travel, study-abroad programs, and

travel, etc.) decided by the learners and then

homestays.

written on topic cards.

Participants: Senior students enthusiastic to

Participants: Any learner wanting to enjoy

talk about their travel experiences, and junior

chatting in English, but mostly lower- and

students thinking about their next trips.

intermediate-level learners. English Diary Club: Learners share, peer check, Beginners’ Paradise: Similar to English

and discuss their personal and learning diaries

Conversation Lounge, but specifically for

and journals. These learners see this as a chance

beginner level learners who may not be

to improve their writing and also chat and get to

confident enough to go the English Conversation know each other. Lounge.

Topics: Personal and learning experiences.

Topics: Light topics (e.g. family, pastimes,

Participants: Learners who want to improve

travel, etc.) decided by the learners and then

their writing or discuss language learning.

written on topic cards. Participants: Beginner level learners, with the

English Debate Club: Learners can debate issues

Assistants.

in groups or in front of others. Topics: Timely topics (e.g. Japan’s relations

Comment: These were the most popular World

with her neighbors, etc.) and perennial topics

Plaza events, and were also the easiest to

(e.g. global warming, cultural perspectives, etc.).

organize as they required no or little preparation.

Participants: Intermediate and advanced level learners, World Plaza Assistants, teachers. Comment: These activities pulled in higherlevel learners, yet were easy to organize and could also adapt to learner interests and levels.

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lower-level, materials-heavy

higher-level, materials-heavy

English Advisory Service (EASE): World Plaza

News Hour: Watching the English-language TV

Assistants answer grammar and vocabulary

news or documentaries together, then discussing

questions from learners, and also advise on

or debating issues.

learning strategies. Learners can make an

Topics: The most topical news items.

appointment via the English Program website.

Participants: Higher-level students,

Topics: Any grammar or vocabulary question

Assistants, and teachers.

that learners have. Participants: Learners with specific language

My World, Your World: Guest speakers

questions, or learners who would like to develop

(graduate students, company representatives,

meta-cognitive language learning strategies.

teachers, learners) spoke about their own environments, life and work experiences.

The Quest: Similar to the push WPAC, learners

Topics: Volunteering, living in India, being a

played question and answer games such as the

high school teacher, caring for children, etc.

conversation-initiating Cathy’s Cards, or wrote

Participants: Learners interested in that topic

their own lists of questions to put on their own,

or person.

self-created board games (similar to snakes and ladders).

International Day: Foreign students from

Topics: Any topic.

Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, China,

Participants: Often shyer learners who could

and Taiwan shared their ideas about the socio-

not really sustain a conversation well, or more

cultural and economic issues affecting their

outgoing learners who really enjoyed learning

countries. This also showed students the

English while playing games.

varieties of English spoken across Asia. Topics: Life in Taiwan, the culture of

Comment: These types of activities were very

Thailand, food in the Philippines, education in

effective in drawing lower-learners to the World

China, etc.

Plaza.

Participants: Learners interested in that topic or person. Comment: These events challenged higherlevel learners, and gave them an active voice in the World Plaza.

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Readiness for Self-Access Language Learning: A Case of Iranian Students Razieyeh Ahmadi, University of Guilan, Iran

Abstract The main aim of this study was to investigate Iranian English for Specific Purposes’ students’ perceptions and behaviors related to autonomous self-access language learning. The researcher defined autonomy in terms of responsibility and decision-making abilities in different areas of second language learning such as: choosing activities and materials inside and outside of the class, courses objectives, evaluating learning, and their course In order to reach these aims, a questionnaire by Chan, Humphreys, and Spratt (2002) was distributed among 133 Law major students at two universities in Guilan province (North of Iran) University of Guilan and Anzali Azad University. The results showed that students seem ready to take more responsibility and control for some aspects of their learning, but need some support and control from their teachers in other aspects of learning. Key words: self-access language learning, learner autonomy, learner responsibility

The concept of autonomy along with self-access language learning is still new in many countries including Iran, and the number of universities and institutes which provide self-access centers are relatively few. The status of English teaching in Iran is as a foreign language, and English is a subject matter in high schools and universities. Students do not use English as a medium for daily communication, the educational system is traditional and teachers and learners hold beliefs and attitudes that sometimes hinder new approaches. As Pishghadam and Mirzaee (2008) note, there is no shift in the Iranian educational system from modernism to postmodernism. In the majority of cases, most of the classroom time is devoted to teachers’ talk; students answer questions and passively follow teachers’ directions. There is no initiation of activities by the students, teachers select the objectives, activities, and evaluate students’ progress. Learning English is based on memorization of vocabulary and grammatical points, these are the common features in public universities. Self-access centers give students an opportunity to exercise control over their learning; students have the freedom to choose the materials and plan their own learning and it is an approach that encourages autonomy. In Iran universities and institutes need to provide facilities

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like SACs in order to develop abilities such as creativity and critical thinking among Iranian students. According to Holec (1981, p. 3) autonomy is “the capacity to take charge of one’s own learning”. Little (1991, p. 4) defined autonomy as a “capacity for detachment, critical reflection, decision making, and independent action”. The core principle of autonomy is closely related to learners’ acceptance of responsibility in language learning. The passive role of Iranian students in the learning process is a hindrance to their success; they are observers and listeners in the classroom and compete with their classmates rather than collaborate. Inevitably, learners struggle with their new responsibilities in self-access learning. As Gardner and Miller (1999) point out, the introduction of self-access language learning changes the roles of teachers, learners, and the whole environment of the classroom, because it is an “approach to learning language, not an approach to teaching language” (p. 8). The purpose of this study was to explore law major university students’ perceptions related to autonomy, namely perceptions of responsibility and decision making ability in different aspects of language learning. Understanding more about these perceptions indicate students’ readiness for autonomy and their readiness for autonomous language leaning in selfaccess centers. Readiness for Autonomy Readiness is a term coined by Cotterall (1995) and it involves the amount of learners’ willingness and ability to be involved in autonomous language learning. According to Littlewood (1996), the development of autonomy depends on two things: ability, and willingness. Based on Littlewood’s definition, a person may have the ability to make independent choices but not have the willingness to do so. On the other hand a person may have the willingness, but not capable of making choices. Readiness measures the relationship between attitudinal factors and autonomy. In one of the early studies conducted by Cotterall (1995), the researcher used a 90 item questionnaire and investigated 131 learners’ beliefs for autonomous language learning. In this study the researcher identified six factors: the role of the teacher, the role of the feedback, the learners’ sense of selfefficacy, important strategies, dimensions of strategy-related behavior, and the nature of language learning. Results indicated that learners’ beliefs regarding these variables have an impact on students’ readiness for autonomy. !

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The educational system in Iran is in rapid change from a very traditional framework to a more modern, innovative one. Current learners are experiencing changes in primary and secondary schools, and even private institutes are willing to provide facilities for their learners to learn languages independently. However, attitudes and perspectives do not change overnight; there are still many teachers and students in Iran who implicitly and explicitly resist change in their roles and in the types of interactions and activities in the classroom. The University of Guilan does not have a self-access center, but with an increase in the number of students, changes in the development of language skills, and rapid changes in Iranian society administrators think it is necessary to develop attitudes towards lifelong learning among students. Any changes in learning context needs an investigation of learners and teachers’ perceptions and attitudes, In addition to the study cited by Cotterall (1995), there are a number of other studies on learners’ readiness to be autonomous in language learning from different contexts. In a study by Chan, Humphreys, & Spratt (2002), the researchers investigated students’ readiness for autonomy in language learning. Their study was initiated by the establishment of self-access centers at the University of Hong Kong. The researchers examined students’ views towards their responsibilities, and those of their teachers’, their confidence in their ability to operate autonomously, and their assessment of their level of motivation in learning English. The participants were 508 male and female students taking English courses at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The researchers administered a questionnaire and conducted interviews. The results showed that students did not have a good understanding of their own responsibilities and abilities, and they considered their teacher as the person most responsible for their learning. The only notable study about learners’ readiness and attitudes toward autonomy in Iran was conducted by Kashefian-Naini (2002) in Shiraz University where the researcher was based. Kashefian-Naini explored 168 male and female EFL learners’ readiness for autonomy. The researcher administered Cotterall’s (1995) questionnaire and conducted a factor analysis to show the existence of the following factors among this group of Iranian EFL students: (1) learner independence, (2) dependence on the teacher, (3) learner confidence, (4) attitudes towards language learning, and (5) self-assessment. The researcher also considered the effect of other variables (age, sex, marital status, grade point average, parents’ level of education, year of study, their occupation, place of birth, and place of residence). Among these variables, only students’

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academic achievement and professional status of students had an impact on EFL students’ readiness for autonomy. A related research study by Javdani, Ghafoori, and Mahboudi (2011) also in Iran investigated 120 insurance and biology major ESP learners’ beliefs and attitudes towards the role of SACs in improving their reading comprehension at the University of Tabriz. They also tried to determine the attitude of ESP learners towards the role of dictionaries, graded readers, graded readers with cassettes, grammar resources, vocabulary books with exercises, listening and writing materials, computer programs, and audio-video tapes. Questionnaire results showed that participants were positive about the resources. Students also believed that the SAC was a good place for learning. The author is unaware of any previous research regarding the concept of autonomy in terms of responsibility perceptions and decision-making ability in Iran. The author considered this gap and conducted a study with a group of law major students who were taking an English for specific purposes course at university, Methodology The main purpose of the present study was to examine a group of Iranian ESP learners’ readiness for autonomous self-access language learning. Readiness is defined as students’ perceptions of their own responsibility, their teachers’ responsibility, and their decision-making ability in different aspects of language learning. Another purpose was to find out whether or not there is a relationship between students’ responsibility perceptions and decision-making ability. The researcher used quantitative research design to describe a large number of ESP students’ perceptions in a formal and objective manner. The research questions were: 1.What are ESP students’ perceptions of their responsibility in language learning at university? 2. What are ESP students’ perceptions of their decisionmaking ability in language learning at university? 3. Is there a relationship between ESP students’ perceptions of responsibility and decision-making ability in various aspects of language learning at university?

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Research Settings and Participants The study involved 133 law major university students from the University of Guilan and Azad University of Anzali (both from Guilan province in the North part of Iran). The participants were selected based on purposive sampling because the purpose of the research was to focus specifically on law major (ESP) students and the researcher did not intend to exclude any of these participants for this study. Questionnaire The main purpose of this study was to measure ESP students’ readiness for autonomy and self-access learning in terms of their responsibility and ability perceptions in different aspects of language learning. To fulfill these aims Chan, et al., (2002)’s questionnaire was used which specifically covers these areas. The original questionnaire consisted of four sections [responsibility, ability, autonomous activities (inside and outside of class), and motivation], but for this study the researcher used two sections of the questionnaire (responsibility and ability). To avoid any misunderstanding, the English version was translated into Persian language (Farsi). In order to ensure the validity of the questionnaire, it was given to experts in University of Guilan. They evaluated it in terms of content validity, face validity, and clarity of items. The translated version of the questionnaire was also given to one expert in translation in University of Guilan to compare the Persian version with the English one. Based on evaluators’ suggestions and comments the final Persian questionnaire was prepared and piloted with 35 law major students. This group of students was not included in final study. The data based on the pilot study was gathered and analyzed. For the reliability of the questionnaire, the Cronbach-alpha value was calculated to see the internal consistency of the instrument.!Cronbach-alpha value for the Autonomy questionnaire was found to be != 0.94 which is a high level of reliability. Data Analysis For the data analysis, first, the percentages of responses were calculated for each item in each section to establish the ESP students’ responsibility and decision-making ability perceptions in different areas of the language learning process. The chi-square test was carried out in order to

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establish whether or not there was a relationship between the students’ perceptions of responsibility and their decision-making ability in learning language. Results and Discussion Learners’ perceptions of their own and their teachers’ responsibility In the first section of the questionnaire, the participants were instructed to report their perceptions of their own and their teachers’ responsibility for the language learning process. Students ranked their perceptions on a five-point Likert scale from 0 (not at all) to 5 (completely). Table 1 presents the percentages of answers related to each question, and the table also shows the statistical relationship between participants’ perceptions of their own and their teachers’ responsibility. For the ease of interpretation the “not at all” and “a little” categories and “mainly” and “completely” categories have been combined. As Table 1 shows, for items 1, 3, 11, and 12 (making progress during lessons, stimulating their interest in learning, evaluating their learning, and their course) the majority of students had the notion of shared responsibility and considered both themselves and their teachers responsible for different areas of language learning process. For items 6, 7, 8, and 10 the percentages of responses by students showed that they gave more responsibility to their teachers, these are items that are related to methodological aspects, planning and management of the class activities (such as deciding the objectives of the course, choosing activities, and materials to learn English). Items 2, 4, 5, 9, and 13 showed that students considered themselves responsible for different aspects of language learning. These are the items that were directly related to their learning such as (making progress in language learning, identifying their weaknesses, working harder, deciding how long to spend on each activity, and what to learn outside the class).

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Table 1. Students’ Perceptions of their Own and their Teachers’ Responsibilities.

Questionnaire Items

Students’ perceptions of their

Students’ perceptions of their

own responsibilities in %

teachers’ responsibilities in %

Not at all /

Mainly /!

Not at all /

completely

a little

Some

a little

Some

Mainly / completely

1.

Make sure you make progress during lessons

22.6

23.3

54.1

30.1

26.3

43.6

2.

Make sure you make progress outside class

25.6

13.5

60.9

54.1

21.8

24.1

3.

Stimulate your interest in learning English

20.3

24.1

55.6

32.3

23.3

44.4

4.

Identify your weaknesses in English

23.3

15.0

61.7

41.4

18.8

39.8

5.

Make you work harder

13.5

15.8

70.7

38.3

27.8

33.8

6.

Decide the objectives of your English course

38.3

21.8

39.8

24.1

21.8

54.1

7.

Decide what you should learn next in your English lessons

34.6

28.6

36.8

26.3

23.3

50.4

8.

Choose what activities to use to learn English in your English lessons

35.3

25.6

39.1

24.8

22.6

52.6

9.

Decide how long to spend on each activity

23.3

21.8

54.9

37.6

29.3

33.1

10. Choose what materials to use to learn English in your English lessons

44.4

16.5

39.1

28.6

18.0

53.4

11. Evaluate your learning

27.1

23.3

49.6

28.6

20.3

51.1

12. Evaluate your course

30.1

23.3

46.6

33.1

19.5

47.4

13. Decide what you learn outside class

18.8

14.3

66.9

49.6

25.6

24.8

ESP Learners’ perceptions of their decision making ability in language learning The second section of the questionnaire investigated participants’ perceptions about their ability to decide on different aspects of language learning. Its aim was to establish students’ readiness for autonomous language learning. Students ranked their responses on a five-point

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Likert scale from 0 (very poor) to 5 (very good). Table 2 shows the percentages of students’ responses related to each question. For the ease of interpretation the “very poor” and “poor” categories and the “very good” and “good” categories have been combined. Most of the students’ responses clustered in the “ok” category of the scale. According to Chan, et al., (2002) this category indicates that students have an average ability to handle their own learning autonomously. Only items 17, 20, and 22 showed that students had “good / very good” ability to do these activities. These items were: Ability to choose learning objectives outside the class, ability to evaluate learning, and ability to identify their weaknesses. The findings of this section revealed that participants had the ability to evaluate their language learning but they shared this responsibility with their teachers in responsibility section. These findings show that in spite of being capable of evaluating their learning, Iranian ESP students still need support and help from their teachers. Table 2. Students’ Perceptions of their Abilities in Learning English.

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Section 2 items: Students’ perceptions of their own

Very poor /

abilities in learning English

poor

14. Choosing learning activities in class

24.8

54.9

20.3

15. Choosing learning activities outside class

36.8

39.8

23.3

16. Choosing learning objectives in class

24.8

38.3

36.8

17. Choosing learning objectives outside class

29.3

32.3

38.3

18. Choosing learning materials in class

34.6

36.1

29.3

19. Choosing learning materials outside class

30.8

36.8

32.3

20. Evaluating your learning

21.8

34.6

43.6

21. Evaluating your course.

39.8

33.8

26.3

22. Identifying your weaknesses in English

13.5

38.3

48.1

23. Deciding what you should learn next in your English lessons

28.6

36.1

35.3

24. Deciding how long to spend on each activity

24.8

39.1

36.1

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Ok

Very good / good

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 254-264 ! !

ESP learners’ perceptions of their decision making abilities and their responsibilities in language learning One of the assumptions of this study was the existence of a relationship between students’ perceptions of responsibility and their decision making ability in autonomous language learning. In order to find the relationship between these variables, a chi-square test was used and the results showed that there was a significant relationship at the level of <.05 in four pairs of items, (Table 3 shows the chi-square results). The items were: items 16 and 6 ( “choosing learning objectives in class” and “deciding the objectives of the English course” ), items 24 and 9 ( “deciding how long to spend on each activity” and “deciding how long to spend on each activity” ), items 18 and 10 ( “choosing learning materials in class” and “choosing what materials to use to learn English in English lessons” ), and items 20 and 11 ( “evaluating learning” and “evaluating learning” ). The results indicated that there was a relationship between how students perceive their abilities and perceptions of responsibility. Perceptions of greater ability might bring perceptions of greater responsibility, or vice versa. The results of the present research suggest that Iranian ESP students have the ability to decide some aspects of their language learning process, and students’ acceptance of responsibility in some areas of language learning associates directly with their ability. The findings also suggest that Iranian students need more freedom to express their ability; for example, in terms of choosing objectives and activities in the language learning process. As a result it is necessary to consider the role of context and educational system as an important variable which can facilitate or hinder the development of autonomous behavior among students.

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Table 3. A Comparison of Students’ Perceptions of their Own Responsibilities and Decisionmaking Ability in Learning English (Chi-square). Section 1 items: Students’ perceptions of their own responsibilities

Section 2 items: Students’ perceptions of their own abilities in learning language

Chi square

4. identify your weaknesses in English

22. Identifying your weaknesses in English

.089

6. Decide the objectives of your English course

16. Choosing learning objectives in class

.002

7. Decide what you should learn next in your English lessons

23. Deciding what you should learn next in your English lessons

.714

8. Choose what activities to use to learn English in your English lessons

14. Choosing learning activities in class

.138

9. Decide how long to spend on each activity

24. Deciding how long to spend on each activity

.019

10. Choose what materials to use to learn English in your English lessons

18. Choosing learning materials in class

.010

11. Evaluate your learning

20. Evaluating your learning

.032

12. Evaluate your course

21. Evaluating your course

.097

13. Decide what you learn outside class

17. Choosing learning objectives inside class

.070

Limitations Although this research study has achieved its’ aims, there were some limitations. First, the participants were limited to law major students so the results cannot be generalized to other students. Second, the researcher only employed a questionnaire to gather data, so reasons for the results cannot be adequately theorized. Further studies need to explore the perceptions of other students such as those studying a different major and those of different age groups. Third, the researcher only considered students’ perceptions, so another study could consider teachers’ perceptions of readiness for self-access language learning. Fourth, this study investigated participants’ perceptions towards ability and responsibility; further studies might consider other factors, such as participants’ perceptions of their roles and their teachers’ roles.

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Conclusions and Pedagogical Implications The major findings of this study are: (1) students were ready to take responsibility for some areas, for example, identifying weaknesses, working harder, deciding what to learn outside the class, and checking progress outside the class.; (2) students were not ready to accept the responsibility for the following areas: deciding the objectives of the course, deciding what should learn next, and choosing activities and materials to learn English; (3) students had an average level of ability to manage learning; and (4) there is a significant relationship between how students perceive their abilities and how they perceive their responsibility. Perceptions of greater responsibility could lead to the perceptions of greater ability, or vice versa. Based on the findings of this study and the review of the literature, there may be several implications. First, these students expressed an average level of ability in different situations of autonomous language learning mentioned in items (e.g. choosing learning objectives outside the class, evaluating their learning) so it seems reasonable to give them more opportunities to learn English based on their needs, such as providing them with situations where they have the freedom of choice to address their needs and interests. Developing autonomy also needs resources and facilities such as the availability of a self-access center which can encourage independent language learning among students. As Javdani, et al., (2011) indicated a “SAC can function as a bridge and prepare learners for actual language use” (p. 17). Also as Gardner and Miller (1999) point out, learners who engage in learning within self-access centers experience new roles and, they accept some degree of control over their learning. So, this study showed that the students are ready in some aspects of language learning and providing facilities such as a SAC can help them to develop autonomy more easily. This study also revealed that there is a need for more studies to investigate Iranian students’ perceptions towards other related areas such as their perceptions of their roles as learners of English, their practice of autonomous activities, their motivation level, and their employment of metacognitive strategies in learning language. The educational system in Iran is changing, and the number of self-access centers in private institutes is increasing, so research studies of this kind would help universities and, other institutes (both private and public) to be prepared before providing self-access facilities for their students, because students’ behavior is strongly influenced by their attitudes and perceptions.

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Notes on the contributor Razieyeh Ahmadi earned a Master’s degree in TEFL at University of Guilan, Iran. She has experience of teaching English to learners at different institutes. Her research areas are autonomy in language learning, computer-assisted language learning, English for specific purposes, and self-regulated learning strategies.

References Chan, V., Humphreys, G., & Spratt, M. (2002). Autonomy and motivation: Which comes first? Language Teaching Research, 6(3), 245-266. Cotterall, S. (1995). Developing a course strategy for learner autonomy. ELT Journal, 49(3), 219-227. !

Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (1999). Establishing self-access: From theory to practice. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.! !

Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy in foreign language learning. Oxford, UK: Program Press.! !

Javdani, F., Ghafoori, N., & Mahboudi, H.R. (2011). The attitude of ESP learners towards the role of self-access language learning centers in improving their reading comprehension. ESP World, 32, 1-22. Retrieved from http://www.espworld.info/Articles_32/DOC/Javdani.pdf! Kashefian-Naini, S. (2002). An investigation into college EFL learners’ beliefs demonstrating their predispositions towards learner autonomy. (Unpublished masters’ thesis). Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.! !

Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy: Definitions, issues, and problems. Dublin, Ireland: Authentik.! !

Littlewood, W. (1996). Autonomy: An anatomy and framework. System, 24(4), 427-435.! !

Pishghadam, R., & Mirzaee, A. (2008). English language teaching in postmodern era. TELL, 2, 89-109.!

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Supporting the Development of Autonomous Learning Skills in Reading and Writing in an Independent Language Learning Centre Hazel L. W. Chiu, Hong Kong Polytechnic University Abstract This article draws on observations, examples and findings from previous action research and teaching experiences gathered in an independent language learning centre in a university in Hong Kong to explore strategies for supporting independent learning. The learning centre offers one-to-one and small-group learning sessions to support the development of independent learning skills in various areas. This discussion will explore particularly the focuses of reading and writing skills development. These learner-centred support sessions aim to develop awareness of different types of learning strategies to suit individual learning needs, and cultivate interest and ability for continuous self-learning. The benefits of a semi-structured scaffolding format with attention to individual learning differences and supported by technology will be highlighted. Keywords: independent language learning, autonomy, writing conference, extensive reading, scaffolding

This article will begin with brief overviews of learner autonomy, as well as self-access and self-directed learning. It will then examine the initial development of self-access centres in Hong Kong and explore ways to support autonomous learning skills in the changing educational contexts in recent years, particularly in one of these independent learning centres. The concept of “autonomy”, which involves the situations, skills and capacity in directing one’s own learning (Benson & Voller, 1997), has been used in different ways in language education to suit specific contexts. How autonomy is interpreted often depends on the degree of emphasis put on various factors which impact the learning context. These factors may involve the knowledge, ability, attitude and motivation of the learners, in addition to the various constraints the learning environment imposes on learning, such as curriculum requirements, teaching and learning approaches, and institutional control. The terms “self-access learning”, “independent learning” and “autonomous learning” have become popular at different times in the past few decades. Their level

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 of popularity somehow indicates the different stages of development concerning the factors which impact how learners take charge of their own learning. “Self-access learning” was a term often used in the 1980s and 1990s when student self-learning started to receive attention and learning resource centres in the name of self-access centres (SAC) were being set up for facilitating this type of learning. Benson (1992) makes a distinction between self-access and self-directed learning. He suggests that the former refers to the design and organisation of resources, whereas the latter calls for certain skills that the learner needs to apply in a learning situation. He further points out that self-access might be defined as “the design and organisation of resources for self-directed learning” and that many SACs are in fact “other-directed to one degree or another” (Benson, 1992, p. 31), as students might lack the skills to be truly self-directed. Self-access learning at this early stage, therefore, seems to imply the provision of resources rather than truly self-directed learning. In recent years, there has been a tendency to use the terms “independent learning” and “autonomous learning” in place of “self-access learning”, as emphasis goes beyond the access and provision of resources to cover more intricate relationships between the learners and the learning processes. Although “independence” seems to be quite similar in meaning to “autonomy”, Benson & Voller (1997) point out that the former denotes freedom from reliance on others, while the latter indicates the ability to make one’s own decisions about what to do without being influenced or instructed to do so. The latter word also implies freedom from external control, which is often hard to achieve, particularly in current educational contexts where institutional authority often precedes individual learning preferences. In her discussion of shifting perspectives in independent language learning (ILL), White (2011) points out that in the current educational context where emphasis is put on lifelong and life-wide learning, new dimensions on ILL (which take into account the situated and contingent nature of ILL) should receive more attention. One of these dimensions is the critical adaptive learning perspective, which considers language learners as individuals who actively seek out and evaluate the possibilities for language learning in their own contexts and learning communities.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Development of Self-Access Centres in Hong Kong Universities Starting from the 1990s, there was a surge of interest in self-access language learning (SALL) in many parts of the world. Within East Asia, Hong Kong was gradually becoming a centre of expertise in SALL development, as a result of generous government financial support for SALL as a means to facilitate language enhancement (Pang, 1994). Self-access centres, sometimes with different names and focuses in language learning, were established in various universities in Hong Kong, for example, the Study-Centre at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and the Writing Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. As described by Benson (1994), the primary aims of such [self-access study] facilities are to enable learning to take place independently of teaching and to encourage students to direct their own learning. Students are given the opportunity to choose and use self-access materials on their own and to assess their own performance by themselves. This new concept of learning contradicted conventional educational concepts in Hong Kong, and called for a need to re-define the roles of teachers and learners. Instead of being at the centre of the learning process, the teacher was expected to play a more subsidiary role for facilitating and supporting learning. The learners took over at the centre, where they were expected to make decisions in directing their own learning. However, as pointed out by Benson (1994), it does not necessarily follow that students will be able to direct their own learning simply by visiting a self-access centre. Farmer (1994) also suggests that Hong Kong students were used to highly structured tuition where learners were expected to adopt a highly passive role. Without confidence in using English and a foundation to develop autonomy, selfaccess learning was initially an unfamiliar and difficult task. As reported in several studies in Gardner & Miller (1994), a number of universities which established their SACs in the 1990s embarked on learner training programmes to help their students develop self-access learning skills. Examples were the self-directed project at Lingnan College, the self-access project undertaken by first-year undergraduates at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and another seven-day programme that trained learners to utilise (for self-directed language learning) the resources of the Independent Learning Centre at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Researchers exploring the initial development of SALL during this period, such as Cooley (1993), suggested that most students were not yet ready for self-access learning. A great deal of teacher and institutional support was clearly needed and offered at universities for helping students develop into self-directed learners.

The Present Educational Context and the Type of Support Needed in SACs A comparison of the newly established English Language Study-Centre at Hong Kong Polytechnic described by Farmer (1994) and the current Centre for Independent Language Learning in the same institute (now upgraded to a university), may highlight the difference in the type of support needed for students in the present educational context. In the 1990s when the Study-Centre was first established at Hong Kong Polytechnic, the centre primarily catered to weak students who were referred in pairs or small groups. The centre offered remedial support to those students who required supplementary tuition (Farmer, 1994). Like most other universities, the self-access centre in the university also helps students develop self-access learning skills by offering individual and small-group consultation sessions for solving individual learning problems, or helping students devise and implement self-study or language improvement plans. Similar types of support are still being offered currently at the centre (now re-named Centre for Independent Language Learning) Independent learning has also become more integrated into the formal curriculum as a part of the course requirements. Some new courses, especially those developed for the new fouryear curriculum which started in 2012, make independent learning a kind of webwork requirement for passing the courses. In other words, face-to-face instruction has become increasingly blended with individual self-learning, facilitated by technology. Inclusive curriculums and variegated learning needs The new curriculum in the university, like those in many other present-day universities, is becoming continuously inclusive in covering a wide array of skills and objectives. As shown in the web description of the new four-year curriculum from one of the universities (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2011), in 2012-13, students are expected not only to attain learning outcomes for professional competence in their own chosen discipline, but also to develop multidisciplinary

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 perspectives with a broad knowledge base. They should also achieve generic outcomes for all-round development, including critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, creativity and innovation, communication and language skills, global outlook, leadership and teamwork skills, entrepreneurship, cultural appreciation, social and national responsibility, and even healthy lifestyle and lifelong learning capability (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2011). With the increasingly overloaded curriculum and the inclusion of independent learning as one component of the curriculum, students no longer prefer to make voluntary commitments for long-term independent learning according to a detailed plan in the form of a learning contract. Advances in technology, such as the development of the internet, have enabled easy access to various types of resources, and diminished the role of self-access centres as resource depositories. However, there is an increasing demand on the development of complex cognitive skills to cope with the high demands of modern university education, for addressing learning needs within the formal curriculum and beyond it. These are often described as higher order thinking skills, such as critical and creative thinking skills of logical reasoning, analysis, evaluation, judgement, problem-solving and creation (Brookhart, 2010). In their discussion of the learning styles of millennial students, Howe and Strauss (2007) describe seven core traits of the millennial generation. Two traits are particularly relevant in exploring the learning needs of present-day students: pressured and achieving. Students nowadays face a great deal of pressure to study hard and show their outstanding performance in various areas of abilities. To be an outstanding achiever requires higher order thinking skills, which need to develop gradually. Compared to students in the past, current students need even more support to fulfil various expectations and learning targets to accomplish more within a shorter time. The concept of autonomy needs to be re-defined in the present educational context. Learning is supposed to be more autonomous with the development of technology. Learners are increasingly encouraged to take charge of their own learning, and they are more capable in accessing information. However, this easy access to a large amount of information also causes difficulties in making choices and decisions. The development of technology brings stronger institutional control, higher performance expectations and less freedom for individual learners. Being an autonomous learner in the current educational context means having the ability to take 270

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 into account all these factors and maintaining a good balance of subjection, independence, and autonomy. Current support in independent learning centres In recent years, students are not so interested in seeking advice on devising and implementing long-term self-learning plans. They often go to the independent language learning centre to seek help to address more immediate and short-term learning needs for fulfilling various learning targets within or beyond the core curriculum. These are mostly tackled by individual and small group consultation/support sessions offered in the independent learning centre where I conducted my action research studies.

Reading and Writing Support Sessions in an Independent Language Learning Centre The remainder of this article will discuss examples of engaging learning support sessions conducted in an independent language learning centre in one of the universities in Hong Kong. These were individual (one-to-one) or small-group (three to five students) support sessions led by a teacher for tackling various learning needs, such as reading and writing, group discussion, oral presentation, job- or study-related application and public exam skills. Students identify their own learning targets and ask the teacher to give them guidance or advice to fulfil these in the sessions. These learning sessions are offered on a voluntary basis to the undergraduate and postgraduate students of Hong Kong Polytechnic University in various disciplines, including humanity and technical subjects. Students can choose their own time slots and teachers to work with, and request the type of help they need. The learning sessions can be flexibly structured to suit different learning needs. They can be quite unstructured or semi-structured depending on student needs and the teacherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s perception of what kind of instructional strategy will be effective and engaging for fulfilling learning objectives. They also offer the opportunity for learners to direct and monitor the learning process, as well as to reflect on their own learning. Appropriate scaffolding strategies need to be used to support the development of learning ability. According to Vygotskyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (1978) theory on the zone of proximal development, interaction and collaboration with a more skilled expert can help to speed up a learnerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s progression to another developmental level, enabling him or her 271

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 to do independently what he or she could previously do only with assistance. Based on these ideas on interactive and collaborative support, Gibbons (2002) further suggests that the use of this type of scaffolding can help learners to move toward new skills, concepts, or levels of understanding. With this type of temporary assistance by which a teacher helps a learner know how to do something, the learner will later be able to complete a similar task independently. This type of assistance is in fact relevant to both classroom teaching and for supporting autonomous learning. Autonomous learning involves not only the motivation to take charge of oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own learning, but also the ability to do something beneficial independently. Autonomous learning skills are neither something that students can finish learning, nor something they either have or do not have. Rather, they are a continuum of different levels of abilities which require continuous development. Autonomous learning skills need to be developed at all times, because different educational environments create different learning needs that students need to tackle. The types of scaffolding provided in these learning support sessions are different from what occur in the classroom, as they are more learner-centred and flexible in addressing individual learning needs. In supporting independent learning, the level of teacher directiveness can always be adjusted according to the requirements of the learning contexts and needs of the students. In their analysis of the written discursive devices used by language advisors in providing input to learners on planning and implementing an individualized self-directed learning plan, Mynard & Thornton (2012) describe different degrees of directiveness according to the needs and levels of awareness the students show in the learning process. In the learning support sessions discussed in this article, the levels of teacher directiveness can also be adjusted according to how autonomous individual students are. The higher level of directiveness in some parts of the sessions can also serve as models for students to refer to when they tackle similar learning targets on their own. An important objective of these learning sessions is to encourage the development of continuous and voluntary autonomous self-learning. Students have perfect freedom in enrolling in these sessions. The kind of strategies they gain and the ability they develop will also help to sustain their interest and motivation in continuous learning. This type of support is suitable in the present educational context when students need to face a wide array of learning needs. 272

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Students nowadays need to use three major types of autonomous learning skills: (a) general learning or study skills, such as researching, making choices and decisions about oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s learning; (b) language learning skills or abilities for different focuses, such as independent writing and revision skills, extensive reading skills and interests, and other skills in developing their reading, speaking, writing and listening abilities; and (c) higher order thinking skills to tackle the various learning outcomes (both language and non-language). In language learning, the three types of skills described above often merge for effective autonomous learners. In the following sections of this article, experiences of conducting individual and small-group support sessions for developing reading and writing skills are reported and discussed based on data and examples from two smallscale action research studies. Individual (one-to-one) writing conferences These individual writing conferences are one-hour writing assistance sessions offered on a one-to-one basis in which the students can request the type of help they need, based on a piece of writing they brought for discussion. These learner-centred writing sessions offered assistance to suit the various writing needs of university students, such as: (a) assignments for different subjects (e.g. term papers, project reports, theses); (b) various types of applications (e.g. for jobs, postgraduate studies, exchange programmes, internship, scholarship); (c) public exam skills development (e.g. IELTS, Use of English Exam (public pre-university matriculation examination in Hong Kong some students need to re-take); (d) studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; own writing practice for various purposes to develop their writing skills and ability. These one-to-one writing conferences are not supposed to be a kind of improvement service on studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; writing, as it is impossible to offer individual assistance to the vast amount of writing that students need to do. Instead, it is a kind of awareness-building learning session to help students develop the skills to identify problems in their writing and do useful revisions on their own. In other words, the consultation sessions are examples of model reflective exercises for students to imitate for improving their writing.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Structure of writing conferences The writing conferences are generally structured to include six main focuses to ensure that the target of enhancing students’ reflective skills is achieved. Depending on students’ skills and abilities, instructional strategies can vary to suit the needs of individual students, with different emphases on these focus areas: A. Student’s quiet reflections at the beginning on the overall strengths and weaknesses of the piece of writing by jotting notes on the work sheet; teacher reading of writing B. Student’s oral reflections on overall strengths and weaknesses C. Student’s oral reflections on most common language problems D. Discussion of language problems E. Discussion of content and organisation of ideas F. End-of-conference reflections and feedback The first five minutes of the conference is usually spent on students’ reflections and note-taking, as well as the teacher’s reading and quick marking of the piece of writing (e.g. underlining). The student then orally reflects on his/her overall strengths and weaknesses and major language problems. Next, the teacher elicits responses from the student about his/her suggestions concerning problems in language, content and organisation of ideas. The session ends with reflections and feedback on what has been learned. Although there is a relatively high level of teacher directiveness for facilitating the development of skills in some parts of these consultation sessions, students’ own reflections also receive a great deal of emphasis, especially at the beginning and the end of the session. Before discussing specific language and content/organisation problems, students are given a two-part reflection sheet (see Appendix A and B) for writing notes on the overall strengths and weaknesses of the piece of writing, as well as analysing the types of language mistakes it contains. They then present these orally. Their ideas will be revisited in the end-of-conference reflections when they have to comment on their initial judgement after analysing the piece of writing with the teacher and recapitulating useful ideas gained from the session. There are different levels of directiveness in different parts of the conference. Parts A and F are the most student-directed, as the teacher allows them to give their 274

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 own views before responding. Parts B and C are also highly student-directed, although sometimes the teacher needs to elicit more relevant ideas or clarify unclear ideas. Parts D and E are the most teacher-directed compared to the other parts. They serve as frameworks for analysing writing which students can use as a model when they are doing their own writing revisions unaided. Prompting questions were used in different parts of the conference to help students reflect and revise their own writing, especially in parts of the conferences with a higher level of teacher directiveness. The following are examples of prompting questions for scaffolding studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ability to analyse their language problems and suggest improvements in content and organisation: 1.

What is wrong with the underlined words?

2.

The meaning of this sentence is unclear. What do you want to say?

3.

What do you mean by this word?

4.

What other connective words can you use instead of this one, to show a contrast between these two parts of the sentence?

5.

The sentence contains too much information. Which is the most important idea you want to convey? What are the key words you have to keep? These prompting questions also serve as guidelines for studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; own reflections

in working individually. When students reflect on their piece of writing unaided, they can also look for problems in the areas highlighted in prompting questions. For example, the use of appropriate words, such as connective words, unclear sentences, or overloaded sentences with too much information. The following are the analyses of examples from the writing conferences where scaffolding strategies worked well, extracted from a small piece of action research by Chiu (2011a). Initial self-directed reflections on studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; writing At the beginning of most sessions, students can usually identify one or more area of strength and weakness close to those later pointed out by the teachers. Even if their ideas are different from those of the teacher, initial reflections followed by close analysis of their writing and final reflections at the end help students to construct a metacognitive framework for evaluating their own writing. 275

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 End-of-conference student reflections and feedback Mostly positive comments were received at the end of the conference sessions. The following are some examples of comments from students on the feedback sheets: •

Very helpful instructor I have met, many tips received.

It’s useful and interesting. I think I have learnt new knowledge from the session.

The teacher is very helpful and provided me with good advice on improving the language of my paper, especially in terms of tenses and connections.

She is a very professional teacher with enthusiasm. She really helped me a lot in my writing and logical thinking.

In short, most of the feedback received for the writing conferences was very positive. Recurrent ideas were usefulness of the instruction: to suit individual needs, in terms of writing development, and in specific areas such as language, connection of ideas and logical thinking. Some students also felt that the conference sessions were interesting. Students were asked to describe the useful things they had learned in the session, which help them to recapitulate ideas and reflect about the session. This facilitates the development of independent analysis and reflective skills on other pieces of writing. Students can also reflect on the strategies used in the session, and use these as a model for analysing their own writing independently later. Examples for more teacher-directed analyses of language problems There are a number of common language problems which often occur in students’ writing. These are often related to the use of vocabulary or expressions which are inappropriate (e.g. collocation problems), imprecise, unnecessary, or lack variety. There are also grammatical mistakes such as those related to tenses, word forms, sentence structure, agreement (or singular/plural forms), prepositions or voice (active/passive). The following are two examples of how scaffolding strategies worked effectively to engage students’ attention and help them to work out ways of tackling the language problems: 1. Use of precise words In one of the individual writing conferences, the student did some practice for the IELTS writing task. He wrote a short piece of descriptive writing to describe the data 276

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 in a graph. The following is a sentence with a problem using precise words (underlined). Sample text: In general, the total quantity of items transported increased obviously, while the amount of goods carried by railways fluctuated during these 28 years. The problem in using the word “fluctuated” was that it did not exactly describe what was shown in the graph, which indicated only small changes in quantity over the period instead of great “fluctuations”. To help the student understand the problem, the teacher used a number of prompting questions to guide him in thinking in the right direction. Teacher:

Have there been great changes in quantities during the period?

Student:

No.

Teacher:

What’s happening in the graph?

Student:

The same.

Teacher:

So is it a good idea to say “fluctuated”? The word means great changes.

Student:

No, not many change.

Teacher:

What other words are better then?

Student:

Stable … same …

Teacher:

So can we say “remained quite stable”?

Although the student could not give the exact expression to replace the inappropriate word, he was guided to realise the problem, and he could give the key words for forming the appropriate expression. 2. Appropriate collocation This example was from an expository essay on problems and solutions on the topic of overpopulation. The following is a sentence with a problem in appropriate collocation (underlined).

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Sample text: If effective solutions are implemented, we can build a more harmonious and peaceful life to live in. There is a problem of collocation, as the word “build” does not collocate with the word “life”. To help the student understand the problem, the teacher used a number of prompting questions to guide him in thinking in the right direction. Teacher: We usually say ‘build a house’, but we use another word with the word ‘life’. Can you think of other possible words? Student: Make … Teacher: You are quite close. Can you think of other similar words? Student: Live … Teacher: You are almost there. If you like your life, what can you say about it? Student: Enjoy? Teacher: Very good! We can say ‘have’ a more harmonious and peaceful life, or ‘enjoy’ a more harmonious and peaceful life. The student finally hit on the word ‘enjoy’ after the teacher had asked him a few relevant prompting questions. Examples of more teacher-directed analyses of content/organisation of problems The most common problems for content and organisation of ideas involve a lack of sufficient contextualisation and elaboration of ideas, a lack of focus within paragraphs, and failure to use specific words to convey ideas clearly. The following are two examples of how scaffolding strategies worked effectively to engage students’ attention and help them to work out ways of tackling problems in content and organisation of ideas: 1. Organisation of ideas within a paragraph Type of writing: Expository essay on problems and solutions concerning overpopulation (public exam)

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Sample text: In poor countries, people are facing the scarcity of food, water and other daily goods. In addition, it is common that the limit number of children per family have chances to be educated. As we all know, poor countries suffer lots of unemployment which lower the people’s life standard. There is no doubt that an increase in population simply makes the situation worse. Problem: Different problems related to overpopulation are not well-connected Solution: Organisation of ideas under one main focus (putting the three factors of resources, education and employment under the main theme of “scarcity”) Prompting questions: Can you suggest a key word which is related to all the ideas covered in this paragraph? Do people have enough of everything? Which word in the paragraph means that you don’t have enough of something? Student’s response: After a few prompting questions, the student was able to point out the word “scarcity”. Then she was guided to indicate that she discussed three main factors in the paragraph: resources, education and employment. 2. Enhancing clarity by elaboration Type of writing: Final-year project report on the topic of online apparel purchasing Sample text: Online Reputation Systems (ORS), in which feedbacks of the buyers are collected, analysed and presented, which enable the good reputation of the sellers. Problem: There is a breach in logic, as it is not clear how the good reputation of the company is related to the feedback, which can be both positive and negative. Solution: Elaborating on the benefits of feedback in helping the company to improve their services, before saying that a good reputation can be built up for the company. Prompting questions: How is feedback related to the building up of a good reputation, since feedback can be both positive and negative? Is feedback good only if it is positive? Can negative feedback be good? How can it be good? Student’s response: She was gradually guided to suggest that negative feedback can be good sometimes, as it can help the company to improve their services.

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Encouragement for continuous self-learning: Use of online materials Besides using prompting questions to guide students to work out ways to improve their writing, the teacher can also suggest ideas for further self-learning that are specifically related to the problem areas, making use of web materials accessed through a computer used in the support session. The following were examples of suggestions given in these writing conferences: 1. Referring students to online concordancers to check word collocations, e.g. the teacher types the words ‘build’ and ‘life’ on the concordancer on the English Language Centre (ELC) website to show that these two words could not occur side by side. 2. Referring students to online dictionaries, e.g. for checking the meaning and ways of using the word ‘fluctuated’. 3. Showing students examples from writing models of a relevant genre to illustrate improvements in various areas, such as style, coherence or elaboration of ideas. 4. Referring students to the ‘Grammar’ link on the ELC website to check up on grammatical structures they cannot manage well in their writing. Strategies used in some parts of the writing conferences seem to be too teacher-directed for an autonomous learning context. However, the teacher guidance provides students with models for analysing and evaluating their writing. This contributes to the development of students’ metacognitive skills in monitoring their own learning, which is an important condition for students to become truly autonomous learners. Small-group reading discussion sessions Other types of consultation sessions offered in the independent language learning centre are small-group discussion sessions of three to five students led by a teacher for tackling various types of learning needs, mostly speaking-related, such as group discussion, oral presentation, job interview, social English and pronunciation. Students usually make their own decisions about learning targets and ask the teacher to give them guidance or advice in the session.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 At this university, the encouragement of extensive reading and the cultivation of a reading culture is one of the reform initiatives for the new four-year university curriculum (Hong Kong Polytechnic University, 2011). However, reading extensively in a second language (L2) is not the type of easy pleasure reading we often associate with extensive reading in general. It is a great challenge for second language learners to try to access extensive reading materials intended for first language (L1) readers. To support interest in voluntary extensive reading for L2 readers in this situation, I conducted a small-scale action research study in implementing reading support sessions in the independent language learning centre of the university, making use of the small-group discussion support sessions to introduce students to English books (fiction or non-fiction) for extensive reading (Chiu, 2011b). The main purpose of these sessions is not to teach reading comprehension, but to help students develop an interest in and the ability for voluntary self-reading, initially for the targeted book and later for other books when a reading habit is developed. These are called introductory reading sessions, as they aim to introduce fiction and non-fiction books (originally intended for general L1 extensive readers) to these L2 learners who may find the books a little difficult for pleasure reading. These one-hour semi-structured discussion sessions are offered to small groups of three to five students who are voluntary participants. Students need to first read a short fiction or non-fiction extract for 10 to 15 minutes. They then follow through with the activities suggested in the task sheet to discuss answers to a few questions to enhance their understanding of the text and the context of the extract. After that they have a ten-minute discussion on a given topic which is related to a theme from the text and to some ideas or concepts which were familiar to them. At the end of the session, they reflect on their learning experience. Book choices Books targeted for general L1 extensive readers are used for these support sessions. They are divided into three main categories: fiction classics, contemporary fiction and non-fiction. The books are selected according to whether they are suitable for young educated persons of today, based on at least one or two of the following principles: â&#x20AC;˘

Containing themes or ideas interesting or meaningful for university students

â&#x20AC;˘

Not too difficult in terms of both content and language for university

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Popular (e.g. best-sellers, or with film adaptations)

Well-written (e.g. award-winners) Fiction books can be best-sellers and have film adaptations. These are

contemporary popular books which suit current interest or time-honoured classics with a lasting currency. Non-fiction books can be contemporary writings on current topics of general interest which are particularly relevant to university students, such as those about relationships, communication, self-improvement and modern developments. The following are examples of books used in these sessions: Fiction classics Animal Farm by George Orwell Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen Contemporary fiction Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling The Client by John Grisham The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini Non-fiction How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey A reading extract most representative of each book, or most likely to arouse interest in reading the book, is selected for students to read for 10 to 15 minutes. Other similar books can also be used to suit different interests. If there is a repository of task sheets produced for different books, students can have wider choices of books they would like to read.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Support materials and procedures The reading discussion sessions are conducted according to the structure set out in a set of support materials for each book. A task sheet selected to support the discussion session is structured according to the following headings: A. Author description B. Book summary C. Context of reading extract D. Comprehension questions E. Discussion task F. Online materials for further reading The teacher only gives brief background information before students read and discuss the reading extract. Sections A, B and F are mainly for students to read on their own later. The teacher briefly describes the context of the reading extract using the information in section C. Section D is mostly teacher-directed, and the purpose is to help students grasp main ideas for understanding and appreciating the reading extract. Section E can be conducted without much teacher intervention, unless instances where teacher guidance is needed are identified. Students can also share short reflections about the session at the end to enhance their cognitive orientations about starting to read and discuss a book of their own choice. Like the writing conferences, these reading discussion sessions can be conducted with different levels of teacher directiveness in different parts of the sessions in response to the level of autonomy different groups of students exercise. Teachers and students can also make decisions about the relative emphases and time they spend on different parts of the sessions. Discussion task/topic The topics in the discussion tasks are designed in a way which can help students interact quite independently without too much scaffolding from the teacher concerning topics that connect to their own lives, as well as to major themes in the book. These topics can also be connected to the other non-language learning outcomes promoted in todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inclusive university curricula, such as critical thinking skills, cultural appreciation, whole-person development, lifelong learning, global

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 outlook, sense of ethical conduct and social responsibility. The following are examples of discussion topics for the three types of books: Fiction classic: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens If you were offered a similar type of benefit and opportunity by an unknown person on similar conditions, like what was given to Pip, would you accept it? Why or why not? Conditions for the offer to Pip: •

Always bear the name of Pip

The name of the benefactor remains a secret until he chooses to reveal it

(The reading extract is Chapter 18 of the book. The young protagonist Pip meets Jaggers, a lawyer from London, who informs him of a secret benefactor’s intention to offer a sum of money for Pip’s education to become a gentleman.) Contemporary fiction: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J. K. Rowling Why do you think the Harry Potter books are so popular? Can you suggest some reasons after reading this extract? Do you like the book yourself? Do you think you will enjoy reading the book on your own? (The reading extract is from Chapter 7 of the book. It describes the welcome ceremony of the Hogwarts School of Magic, in which new students are magically sorted by the headmaster into different houses.) Non-fiction: The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey The text describes five levels of listening: 1. Ignoring 2. Pretending 3. Selective listening 4. Attentive listening 5. Empathic listening Can you think of some examples in your life when you practised listening at one or more of these levels, e.g. listening to a friend, your parents, or the lectures? Do you agree with the author’s evaluation of the fifth level of listening?

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 (The reading extract is from the section ‘Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood’. It is related to the principles of empathetic communication.) The main purpose of these support sessions is to develop students’ interest and ability in further extensive reading on their own for the same book which they start reading in the small group, and even for other books for general L1 readers. It is hoped that they can gradually develop an extensive reading habit. Online materials for continuous extensive reading The online references at the end of the task sheet provide material to cultivate students’ reading interest further. They can be online reviews or critical analyses of the book for which students have read the extract, as well as multi-media materials for stimulating interest, such as film titles and audio recordings. Student feedback Feedback taken from the student reflections at the end of the sessions indicate that these reading sessions are beneficial for developing reading interest and ability. Students felt that they gained a better understanding of the book at the end of the reading sessions and some of them indicated that they would be interested in reading the book later or watching the film adaptation of the book. Conclusion The development of good writing skills and extensive reading habits requires self-directed learning efforts. However, they are difficult to develop without initial teacher support. They are also hard to sustain without the cultivation of interest. These guided sessions can provide support and stimulation to encourage individual learning efforts. The development and attainment of other non-language learning outcomes promoted in the new curriculum of the university, such as critical thinking skills, cultural appreciation, a broad knowledge base, and a sense of ethical conduct and social responsibility, can only be achieved through sustained self-learning. This type of long-term learning effort also needs initial encouragement and support from teachers.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Face-to-face individualised instruction is valuable at all times. In a technological age where digital access to information is becoming easier, individualised personal instruction can focus more on the development of critical engagement and higher order thinking skills. In our changing educational environment, intensive individualised instruction would still be needed to help students cope with the large amounts of information and knowledge they are exposed to, in order to develop higher order cognitive skills to make good use of these in tackling various types of learning needs. The types of scaffolding provided in these learning sessions are different from those which often occur in the classroom. The sessions are flexible and learnercentred to address different individual learning needs chosen to be addressed by students rather than decided by the teacher. The teacher can also adjust the level of directiveness in conducting these sessions in response to the different levels of autonomous learning skills students have. Scaffolding strategies used by the teacher can also serve as models for students to monitor their own learning. These learning sessions can be used flexibly to address specific learning needs. They can be easily replicated by small groups of students who are interested in working on their own without teacher guidance by following the suggested structures or materials. The voluntary and impromptu nature of these learning sessions suit the learning style of present-day students who are facing high demands on their educational performance and who also have a busy learning schedule, but might not be readily prepared to commit to activities which are too demanding and timeconsuming. They are also relatively easy and flexible to be conducted in independent learning centres. With initial support to make (extensive) reading and writing in a second language a less intimidating task for students, there is a possibility that they can gradually develop into independent readers and writers with an interest and ability in self-directed reading and writing development. This is one of the important goals for helping students become autonomous learners.

Notes on the contributor Hazel L. W. Chiu teaches language enhancement courses at the English Language Centre, Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Her professional/research interests

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 include reading and writing, grammar teaching and learning, task-based language teaching, the use of language arts for language teaching and learning, and independent language learning. References Benson, P. (1992). Self-access for self-directed learning. Hong Kong Papers in Linguistic and Language Teaching, 15, 31-38. Benson, P. (1994). Self-access systems as information systems: Questions of ideology and control. In D. Gardner & L. Miller (Eds.), Directions in self-access language learning (pp. 3-12). Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. Benson, P., & Voller, P. (Eds.). (1997). Introduction. In P. Benson & P. Voller (Eds.). Autonomy and independence in language learning. New York: Longman. Brookhart, S. M. (2010). How to assess higher order thinking skills in your classroom. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Chiu, H. L. W. (2011a). Enhancing learner ability and motivation in critical reflection on writing through semi-structured learner-centred writing conferences. Paper presented at the Third International Conference on Language and Communication, Bangkok, Thailand. December 2011. Chiu, H. L. W. (2011b). Small group introductory reading sessions for developing interest and ability in extensive reading. Paper presented at the Language Centre Symposium on Developing Students as Readers and Writers in the Four-Year Curriculum: The Role of the English Language Centres, Hong Kong, China. June 2011. Cooley, L. (1993). Using study guides: An approach to self-access. Hong Kong Papers in Linguistics and Language, 16, 93-101. Farmer, R. (1994). The limits of learner independence in Hong Kong. In D. Gardner & L. Miller (Eds.), Directions in self-access language learning (pp. 13-27). Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (Eds.). (1994). Directions in self-access language learning. Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. Gibbons, P. (2002). Scaffolding language, scaffolding learning: Teaching second language learners in the mainstream. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Hong Kong Polytechnic University. (2011). New 4-year undergraduate curriculum structure. Retrieved from http://4yc.polyu.edu.hk/curriculum.html Howe, N., & Strauss, W. (2007). Millennials go to college. Great Falls, VA: Lifecourse Associates. 287

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Mynard, J., & Thornton, K. (2012). The degree of directiveness in written advising: A preliminary investigation. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3(1), 41-58. Pang, T. T. T. (1994). A self-direct project: A critical humanistic approach to selfaccess. In D. Gardner & L. Miller (Eds.), Directions in self-access language learning (pp. 29-38). Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. White, C. (2011). Inside independent learning: Old and new perspectives. In B. Morrison (Ed.), Independent language learning: Building on experience, seeking new perspectives (pp. 13-23). Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. doi:10.5790/hongkong/9789888083640.003.0002

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Appendices Appendix A Writing Reflection Sheet Part A: General reflections on writing Reflect on your major strengths and weaknesses, especially in content and organisation of ideas. Strengths

Weaknesses

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 266-290 Appendix B Part B: Language problems analysis Tick your major types of errors (around three of them) and give examples below (or mark them on your piece of writing). Types of errors A. Tenses e.g. I meet an old friend yesterday.

Examples from your writing

B. Verb forms e.g. He was read a book when the bell ringing. C. Parts of speech e.g. She followed the steps careful when she worked on the project. D. Sentence structures e.g. We happy last night saw old friends. E. Incorrect/Inappropriate words e.g. I was fear of the dog. F. Redundant/Unnecessary words e.g. Robert returned back the book to her. G. Connectives e.g. I don’t really like this idea. Therefore, I am totally against it. H. –ing and –ed forms e.g. I am very interesting in chess. I. Prepositions e.g. We have to take action with response to the situation. J. Singular/Plural forms/Agreement e.g. There is many student in the class. K. Others: e.g. spelling, articles, active/passive voices, word order

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Video Self-Assessment for Language Learners Rob Hirschel, Sojo University, Japan Craig Yamamoto, Sojo University, Japan Peter Lee, Sojo University, Japan Abstract Students were video recorded performing similar tasks at both the outset of the academic year in April and towards the year-end in December. Student participants (N=123) viewed both videos in December and completed identical questionnaires with regard to both videos. The questionnaire sought to elicit students’ (1) satisfaction with their English ability, (2) interest in speaking English, (3) ability to interact in English, (4) enjoyment of communication in English, and (5) confidence in speaking English. Mean scores for all items were higher (all statistically significant) for the December videos. In a similar survey comparing students’ perceptions of improvement during their eight months of study, learners participating in the video treatment (N=143) reported higher scores of improvement than the control group (N=107) for all items (2, 4, and 5 achieving statistical significance). Initial results appear to indicate that student videos are correlated with a positive effect upon students’ interest in, enjoyment of, and confidence in speaking English, but not with perceptions of increased general English ability or ability to interact in English. The findings are applicable to teachers and advisors of individual learners, who wish to empower their students in realizing progress for language learning endeavors that can sometimes seem tenuous. Keywords: self-assessment, motivation, awareness, video

In the field of self-access language learning, assessment has been found to be one of the “key challenges” due to the unconventional nature of self-access centers in providing unique programs for learners who individually decide what activities to pursue, and when, how, and for what duration to perform them (Reinders & Lázaro, 2007). Compared with the more traditional classroom whereby students are often presented with identical resources, at identical times, with identical instructions and identical deadlines, constructing a fair assessment can be a very daunting task. In their investigation of 46 self-access centers in five countries, Reinders and Lázaro (2007) found that 24 conducted no assessment whatsoever, whereas the remaining 22 centers employed a variety of assessment measures, with self-assessment comprising 82%. The self-assessments took a number of forms including questionnaires, learning diaries, and assessment grids and portfolios such as the European Language Portfolio (ELP). In a chapter entitled Learner autonomy, self-assessment and language tests: Towards a new assessment 291

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culture, Little (2011) made a very compelling argument for self-assessment, but offered only one new instrument, the ELP. Other recent articles by scholars in the field either focused on assessment of “autonomy” (Benson, 2010) or, as in an article entitled Managing self-access language learning: Principles and practice, made no mention of “assessment” at all (Gardner & Miller, 2011). It was thus, with scant attention given to self-assessment in language learning, that the authors undertook the present research. This pilot study aims to explore the possibility of using video assessment for teachers, learning advisors, and students to effectively monitor progress in language learning. For students, self-assessment is viewed as an invaluable way of involving students in the learning and evaluation process, enabling students to become more autonomous and self-directed learners, and giving students the skills to make the most of language learning opportunities (Little, 2005; Ross, 2006). For teachers, learning advisors, and administrators, the videos can similarly be used as tangible products for demonstrating gains. Video-Stimulated Recall (VSR) has long been used in teacher training and development (Calderhead, 1981; Reitano, 2006). Though a 100% purely objective method of data collection does not exist (Pirie (1996) outlined numerous potential biases), VSR has advantages in being able to record at least some aspects of classroom performance and enables the viewer(s) to revisit this data and reflect upon performance, decisions taken, and emotions felt. Reitano (2006) highlighted some of the limitations of VSR, including embarrassment, a fixation on one’s physical appearance, and a firm mindset whereby objective observations are challenging. From the discipline of business management, there have been concerns as to the accuracy of selfassessment, with research suggesting self-assessment is more strongly tied to affective factors than to cognitive ones (Sitzmann, Ely, Brown, & Bauer, 2010). For language learners, however, it is precisely these affective factors that are among the most important (Arnold, 2009), perhaps even more so for the independent language learner (Hurd, 2008). Affective factors aside, Ross (2006) found that through proper training, student self-assessment can be both valid and reliable, and can contribute to greater learning outcomes. Reitano (2006) concludes that VSR “has been shown to be a most effective tool for teachers to reflect on their knowledge in action and to promote professional growth” (p. 10). The authors of the current study believed that perhaps the very same tool of video reflection could be used for language learners as well.

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Literature Review MacIntyre, Clément, Dörnyei, and Noels (1998) wrote that the “primary goal of language instruction” (p. 545) is to facilitate communicative use of the second language (L2). It is not a stretch to see that communicative use of an L2 necessarily involves a certain amount of autonomy. Littlewood (1999) explains: If we define autonomy in educational terms as involving students’ capacity to use their learning independently of teachers, then autonomy would appear to be an incontrovertible goal for learners everywhere, since it is obvious that no students, anywhere, will have their teachers to accompany them throughout life. (p. 73) An integral part of autonomous learning, regardless of how one may define the term (for definitions see Little, 2007; Littlewood, 1999), is some measure of autonomous assessment or self-assessment. Little (2005) explains that a learner-centered curriculum is incomplete without self-assessment and shared responsibility. Chen (2008) describes the merits of self-assessment in assisting “students to develop knowledge of standards of good work” (p. 238), identifying performance in relation to these standards, and making appropriate choices for further study. Both Little (2005) and Chen emphasize the role of self-assessment in enabling learners to reflect on their strengths and challenges, and consequently develop as informed learners. Chen (2008) specifies the opportunities for growth in the phrase “learning to assess and assessing to learn” (p. 254), whereas Little (2005) describes the process of self-assessment as enabling “learners to turn occasions of target language use into opportunities for further explicit language learning” (p. 322). In the field of teacher training and development, there have been numerous studies investigating the practice of VSR. Reitano (2006) notes five advantages of VSR that may also apply to the current study: (1) allowing for the reliving of specific episodes in context, (2) enabling both self-reflection and input from others, (3) giving adequate time for reflection, (4) putting the subject in control, and (5) enabling subjects to make explicit what may have previously been understood only implicitly. Though these advantages of VSR are expected to cross over from the realm of teacher training to that of language learning, the authors of the

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current study were unable to find any research literature focusing upon video use for student selfassessment and learning. Research Questions The following research questions were thus proposed: 1. How do students perceive their progress in spoken English after 8 months of formal study? (Progress, in this study, is understood to encompass not only communicative ability, but also the important affective considerations of interest, enjoyment, and confidence.) 2. How do the above perceptions compare with those of students who have not been video recorded? Methodology Participants The participants were drawn from 11 intact classes of first year students at a Japanese university of sciences and engineering. All participants had two 90-minute periods of English per week for two 15-week semesters. None were English language majors. All participants undertook the same English curriculum taught by the three instructor-researchers. Two survey measurements were completed, details of which are explained later in this section. For the first survey instrument, a paired samples t-test was used to analyze the two iterations. After removing participants who had been absent for one or more of the video recordings, or for one or more of the video-viewing and questionnaire completion sessions, the number of participants stood at 107. For the second survey measurement, analyzed via an independent samples t-test, there were 143 participants in the experimental group and 107 participants in the control group (N=250). Conditions The participants in the video treatment group were video-recorded twice during the academic year: once at the outset in April and once towards the end of the year in December. The time of recording was chosen to provide students and their teachers with viewable data from approximately the beginning and end of their first-year university English studies. The aim of the

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above research questions was to assess studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; progress in spoken English (understood to be communicative). The participants were therefore asked to record interactions in pairs such that elements of conversation, including interactive ability and confidence in communicating with a partner, could be evaluated. The April video recording entailed pairs of students asking each other about their identity pages (see Appendix A). The December video recording involved pairs of students speaking about common topics (see Appendix B). Following completion of the second video recording in December, the students watched the two videos in successive classes, immediately completing the same questionnaire after each video, comprising the questions indicated in the next section. In a third class, the video treatment group participants completed an additional questionnaire after watching the two videos together. The control group responded to the same questionnaire (instrument two) in the absence of any videos. Control group participants experienced the same classes, with the same curriculum taught by the same instructors. The sole difference was the absence of video activities. Survey Instrument One The survey instrument, completed twice by the treatment group (N=123), comprised five items translated into Japanese and back-translated for accuracy. The items were chosen and constructed in an effort to assess a robust definition of progress in spoken English comprising both elements of production (general English ability, ability to interact in English) and elements of affect (interest, enjoyment, confidence). Each item was followed by a space to optionally record any comments. The survey instrument was administered online, and the respondents could answer in Japanese or English. The items are shown in Figure 1.

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I.

On a four-point Likert-scale (4= strongly agree, 3= agree, 2= disagree, 1= strongly

disagree):

II.

1.

Looking at this video, I am satisfied with my English ability.

2.

Looking at this video, I can see that I have an interest in speaking English.

3.

Looking at this video, I feel that I have the ability to interact in English.

4.

Looking at this video, I can see that I enjoy communicating in English.

5.

Looking at this video, I feel that I have confidence in speaking English.

Any comments for each of items 1-5.

Figure 1. Survey instrument 1 Survey Instrument Two The survey instrument completed by both the treatment and control groups (N=250) comprised five items translated into Japanese and back-translated to ensure accuracy. The items were constructed to enable comparison between the treatment group, which had recorded, watched, and evaluated their videos; and the control group, which had no video activity. The items are shown in Figure 2. On a four-point Likert-scale (4= strongly agree, 3= agree, 2= disagree, 1= strongly disagree): 1.

Since beginning university, my English ability has improved.

2.

Since beginning university, my interest in speaking English has increased.

3.

Since beginning university, my ability to interact in English has improved.

4.

Since beginning university, I enjoy communicating in English more.

5.

Since beginning university, I have more confidence in speaking English.

Figure 2. Survey instrument 2 Results The descriptive statistics for survey instrument one are presented in Table 1. The average ratings of the participants (N=123) were all slightly higher for the survey administered following viewing of the December video as compared with the survey following viewing of the April video. A paired samples t-test, with values reported in Table 2, indicates that all December gains were statistically significant at the .05 level.

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Table 1. Descriptive Statistics for Survey Instrument 1. Itema

Video Viewed

M

SD

S. E. Mean

Q1

April

2.01

.50

.05

December

2.20

.54

.05

April

2.45

.60

.05

December

2.72

.50

.05

April

2.02

.53

.05

December

2.22

.61

.05

April

2.69

.65

.06

December

2.93

.56

.05

April

1.98

.53

.05

December

2.18

.56

.05

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

a

N=123

Table 2. Differences in Means for Survey Instrument 1. Item

M

SD

T

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Q1

-.19

.52

-4.01

122

.00

Q2

-.27

.62

-4.84

122

.00

Q3

-.20

.59

-3.85

122

.00

Q4

-.24

.65

-4.00

122

.00

Q5

-.20

.55

-3.91

122

.00

Note: All differences in means were statistically significant at p ! 0.5.

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The descriptive statistics for survey instrument two are presented in Table 3. The experimental video group scored marginally higher on all items regarding improvement. An independent samples t-test, with values reported in Table 4, was performed. Leveneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Test for Equality of Variances was conducted and the suitable values were chosen. The statistical procedure indicated that items 2, 4, and 5 incurred means from the two groups that were statistically significant at the .05 level. These results demonstrate that learners who participated in the video treatment rated themselves higher, after eight months of study, on measures of interest, enjoyment, and confidence, but not on measures of ability. Table 3. Descriptive Statistics for Survey Instrument 2. Item

Group

N

M

SD

S. E. Mean

Q1

Video

143

2.80

.57

.05

Control

107

2.74

.56

.05

Video

143

3.00

.47

.04

Control

107

2.83

.56

.05

Video

143

2.88

.52

.04

Control

107

2.81

.58

.06

Video

143

3.06

.51

.04

Control

107

2.83

.62

.06

Video

143

2.66

.64

.05

Control

107

2.49

.60

.06

Q2

Q3

Q4

Q5

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Table 4. Differences in Means for Survey Instrument 2. Item

Mean Difference

Std. Error Difference

t

df

Sig. (2-tailed)

Q1

.07

.07

.91

248.00

.36

Q2

.17

.07

2.51

206.72

.01*

Q3

.07

.07

.95

213.93

.34

Q4

.23

.07

3.14

200.52

.00*

Q5

.18

.08

2.24

248.00

.03*

Note: *Differences in means were statistically significant at p ! 0.5. Qualitative Data For the purposes of triangulation, participant comments were solicited in the two administrations of survey instrument one. Participants were encouraged to make comments in either English or Japanese, with a professional translator performing translations of the Japanese comments. The comments section was both optional and open ended. Thus, while definitive conclusions cannot be made about the comments of students who elected to respond, the comments can give a broader indication of student perspectives than by using the Likert-scale data alone. The comments for each of the five questions on iterations one and two of survey instrument one were first independently coded by the three researchers, discussed, and finally coded together by the team. Comments for items 2 (interest in speaking English) and 4 (enjoy communicating in English) generally fell along the spectrum of interest in the subject matter (clearly evident, clearly lacking, or not explicitly mentioned). Statements such as “I'm not sure that other people can see, but I'm very interested” were categorized as the student demonstrating an interest in English language learning. Conversely, statements such as “I don't like English very much” were clearly indicative of students who lacked interest. Given the open-ended nature of the comments, many, such as “I thought English is difficult” could not be categorized on a scale of interest. One commonly uncategorizable type of comment had to do with smiling. In the two iterations of the survey, there were twenty instances of smile, smily, or smiling recorded,

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only two of which were coded for participant interest: “When I speak, I smile and look interested” and “I looked that I was having fun, because I was smiling”. Other comments such as “I was smiling”, “I’m talking with a smile”, and “I could talk with smile” would tend to indicate interest in the subject matter, but without greater context could not be coded as such. Smiling, particularly in the Japanese context, could be construed as a sign of embarrassment or discomfiture (Andrade & Williams, 2009). The three comments, “I’m smiling foolishly”, “I’m smiling bitterly”, and “I don’t have smile” might indicate negative feelings, but again, without greater context could not be coded. Comments for items 1 (satisfaction with English ability), 3 (ability to interact in English), and 5 (confidence in speaking English) generally aligned along two different dimensions: a) interest in the subject matter, and b) satisfaction with English ability. Comments that did not reference interest or satisfaction with English ability were left uncoded. Table 5 displays the results of the qualitative portion of this study. Bearing in mind that comments were optional and that their coding can be problematic based on limited context, the results are nonetheless promising. In all instances, satisfaction and interest were registered in higher percentages for the December video iteration than for the April iteration, and dissatisfaction and disinterest in equal or lower percentages for the December iteration. Particularly noteworthy is the large percentage of student responses for the December video indicating interest for items 2 and 4.

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Table 5. Analysis of Comments. Item

Video

N

viewed Q1

Q1

April

December

Coding

+

%

unc

%

-

%

Satisfaction

7

10.6

13

19.7

46

69.7

Interest

15

22.7

51

77.3

0

0

Satisfaction

15

32.6

10

21.7

21

45.7

Interest

11

23.9

35

76.1

0

0

Dimension N=66

N=46

Q2

April

N=57

Interest

22

38.6

26

45.6

9

15.8

Q2

December

N=44

Interest

29

65.9

14

31.8

1

2.3

Q3

April

N=53

Satisfaction

5

9.4

12

22.6

36

67.9

Interest

7

13.2

46

86.8

0

0

Satisfaction

9

20.5

19

43.2

16

36.4

Interest

9

20.5

35

79.5

0

0

Q3

December

N=44

Q4

April

N=50

Interest

22

44

25

50

3

6

Q4

December

N=43

Interest

28

65.1

15

34.9

0

0

Q5

April

N=48

Satisfaction

5

10.4

6

12.5

37

77.1

Interest

6

12.5

42

87.5

0

0

Satisfaction

11

24.4

10

22.2

24

53.3

Interest

9

20

36

80

0

0

Q5

December

N=45

Note: + and â&#x20AC;&#x201C; refer, respectively, to presence and absence of the coding dimension. unc indicates responses that were uncategorizable with regard to the coding dimension.

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Discussion The first research question asked how students perceived their progress in spoken English after eight months of formal study. The participants from the video treatment group reported higher ratings for the December video on all five items of survey instrument one. These statistically significant findings appear to demonstrate that the experimental group believed they were making progress. These results are promising. There are, however, a number of limitations to these findings, discussed in the next section, for which caution is advised in interpreting the results. The second research question asked how the perceptions of the students in the video treatment group compared with similar students in the control group. These findings are a little more robust in that there is a control group with which to compare the video treatment group findings. On survey instrument two, eliciting perceptions of improvement, the experimental group ranked themselves higher on all five measures (three of which were statistically significant). Items 2, 4, and 5 (eliciting perceptions of interest in speaking English, enjoyment of English communication, and confidence in speaking English, respectively) all incurred small, but statistically significant differences when compared against the control group. This finding leads the researchers to believe that the video treatment has had some positive effects on how learners rated their interest, enjoyment, and confidence in communicating in English. Conversely, for items 1 and 3 (both eliciting perceptions of ability), no statistical difference was found. Thus, while the video treatment appears to have led to higher self-ratings for affective measures, there appears to be no difference with regard to measures of ability. The qualitative results tended to validate the results from the survey instruments, particularly for items 2 and 4 (evaluating interest and enjoyment, respectively). For the December iteration of survey one, responses such as “I looked [like] I was enjoying it”, “I can’t speak English well, but I like to speak”, and “I have more interest than the last time” were common for item 2. For item 4, typical responses included “I enjoyed the conversation”, “I think that speaking English is difficult but fun”, and “I was nervous but excited to do it”. The responses for item 5 with regard to confidence were a little more circumspect with only eleven participants making statements such as “I think that I am better than I was”, “I could talk with [confidence] looking at my partner”, and “I could talk without hesitation”. Though the participants appeared relatively reluctant to express satisfaction with their current ability, many

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of the students did clearly express interest in studying English throughout their responses to the five survey items. Often-recorded responses such as “I’m interested in English but I can’t really speak English” and “I want to improve my English and gain confidence” underscore this point. Limitations As with any research into language learner perceptions, there are a number of limitations inherent. First, there is the concern that students may not be particularly accurate assessors of their own progress. Sitzmann et al. (2010) have called into question whether self-assessments are in fact more of an affective judgment than a cognitive one. Given that the statistically significant results in this study were indeed for affective factors rather than those concerning ability, perhaps this limitation is not as worrying. In future studies, it may be useful to provide thorough training in self-assessment such that students can achieve greater validity and reliability in their own assessments (Ross, 2006). A second concern is that all students were clearly aware of which video was taken in April and which was taken in December. There thus exists the possibility whereby student expectations led them to assume improvement when, in fact, none may have existed. Having invested eight months of study into their English, it may be difficult for learners not to give themselves higher scores on the second iteration of survey one. On the contrary, however, there is also the possibility that non-English major students who have been required to take English might have been disaffected with the subject matter and may have given themselves equal or lower scores in the second iteration of survey one, regardless of any possible improvement. As there is little possibility of controlling for students’ knowledge of which video was taken when, the best way of ensuring valid and reliable self-assessments is, again, through comprehensive self-assessment training. A third limitation relates to the timing of both iterations of survey one. The recorded videos from April and December were both viewed and evaluated by students in December in successive classes. The proximity of the viewings and the elapsed time from the April recording may have affected students’ evaluations. The authors’ follow-up research will have students view and evaluate their performances shortly after the recordings. There are finally practical matters to be considered. The April recordings were made in the classroom (multiple pairs at once) with no external microphone and the audio quality was

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often problematic. The December recordings were instead made in auxiliary rooms and were much more audible. The next study will see both sets of recordings made in auxiliary rooms for maximum clarity. Conclusion The above limitations notwithstanding, this study has gleaned some important and tangible results. Taken together, the qualitative and quantitative data point to a pattern whereby, over the eight month course of study, students appeared to be developing a greater interest in and enjoyment of communicating in English. Slightly increased levels of confidence were also apparent. Particularly noteworthy was that participants in the video treatment group were able to perceive gains in interest, enjoyment, and confidence that the control group participants did not. What has not been sufficiently demonstrated is a perception of gain in satisfaction with general English ability or in the belief that the student has an increased ability to interact in English. The results for video treatment group participants were not statistically different from those of the control group for those measures. Frequent survey responses such as “I can’t communicate well yet” suggest that, although students may not appreciate gains in their ability, they may have made gains in terms of their interest in the subject matter. There are a number of potential explanations for students being unable to perceive gains in actual ability. Perhaps the most obvious (and the most disconcerting for teachers) is that there was no gain. The authors believe, however, that gains in communicative ability in a short term EFL setting are rather difficult to pinpoint, especially in the absence of any quantifiable measurement. Students, particularly in the absence of training, may be unable to objectively measure their own gains (Sitzmann et al., 2010). A child, by way of analogy, may have experienced vertical growth in an eight-month period. With no chart to assist her, however, that growth may be imperceptible, particularly if the child’s friends are growing as well. What this study has clearly demonstrated is that intermittent video recordings can assist students in identifying gains of interest in, enjoyment of, and confidence with using English. Particularly in the absence of other concrete measures of demonstrating gain, these video recordings may better enable learners to realize the often elusive progress they are making in their language studies. This progress, even if it is more affective than cognitive, can provide a substantial boost in motivation for students.

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Future studies should address the limitations described in the previous section, including training students to be competent raters of their own performance, viewing and evaluating the videos shortly after recording, and considering practical matters such as recording quality. Further research should also seek to identify studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; perspectives on the self-assessment training, video recording and viewing, and evaluation process in order to determine whether or not students believe these activities to be valuable. Researchers may want to consider using qualitative data collection methods such as interviews and focus groups in order to provide more contextual information for better coding and analyzing of the data. Finally, it would be interesting to see research that compares studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; self-evaluations on measures of ability against those of qualified and independent instructors. The authors of this pilot study are currently pursuing a revised replication study in order to tackle some of these challenges. Notes on the contributors Rob Hirschel is a lecturer at the Sojo International Learning Center (SILC) of Sojo University in Kumamoto, Japan. His research interests include assessment, affective factors in the language classroom, error correction, and CALL. Craig Yamamoto is currently a lecturer at Sojo University in Kumamoto, Japan. He has been a manager, teacher and trainer for teachers in EFL/ESL since 1996 at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. His research interests include assessment, training, and learner motivation. Peter Lee is currently a lecturer at Sojo University in Kumamoto, Japan. He has been teaching EFL/ESL for more than 10 years at the primary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. His research interests include evaluation, listening, and CALL. References Andrade, M., & Williams, K. (2009). Foreign language learning anxiety in Japanese EFL university classes: Physical, emotional, expressive, and verbal reactions. Sophia Junior College Faculty Journal, 29, 1-24. Retrieved from http://www.jrc.sophia.ac.jp/courses/pdf/ver2901.pdf Arnold, J. (2009). Affect in L2 learning and teaching. ELIA, 9, 145-151. Retrieved from http://institucional.us.es/revistas/elia/9/8.%20Arnold.pdf

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Benson, P. (2010). Measuring autonomy: Should we put our ability to the test? In A. Paran & L. Sercu (Eds.), Testing the untestable in language education (pp. 77-97). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Calderhead, J. (1981). Stimulated recall: A method for research on teaching. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 51, 211-217. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8279.1981.tb02474.x Chen, Y.-M. (2008). Learning to self-assess oral performance in English: A longitudinal case study. Language Teaching Research, 12, 235-262. doi:10.1177/1362168807086293 Gardner, D., & Miller, L. (2011). Managing self-access language learning: Principles and practice. System, 39, 78-89. doi:10.1016/j.system.2011.01.010 Hurd, S. (2008). Affect and strategy use in independent learning. In S. Hurd & T. Lewis (Eds.), Language learning strategies in independent settings (pp. 218-236). Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. Retrieved from http://oro.open.ac.uk/10049/1/Affect%26StrategyUseinIndependentLearning.pdf Little, D. (2005). The Common European Framework and the European Language Portfolio: Involving learners and their judgements in the assessment process. Language Testing, 22, 321-336. doi:10.1191/0265532205lt311oa Little, D. (2007). Language learner autonomy: Some fundamental considerations revisited. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 1, 14-29. doi:10.2167/illt040.0 Little, D. (2011). Learner autonomy, self-assessment and language tests: Towards a new assessment culture. In B. Morrison (Ed.), Independent language learning: Building on experience, seeking new perspectives (pp. 25-39). Hong Kong, China: Hong Kong University Press. doi:10.5790/hongkong/9789888083640.003.0003 Littlewood, W. (1999). Defining and developing autonomy in East Asian contexts. Applied Linguistics, 20, 71-94. doi:10.1093/applin/20.1.71 MacIntyre, P., Clément, R., Dörnyei, Z., & Noels, K. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in a L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. The Modern Language Journal, 82, 545-562. doi:10.1111/j.1540-4781.1998.tb05543.x Pirie, S. (1996, October). Classroom video-recording: When, why and how does it offer a valuable data source for qualitative research? Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the North American Chapter of the International Group for Psychology of Mathematics Education Panama City, Florida. Reinders, H., & Lázaro, N. (2007). Current approaches to assessment in self-access language learning. TESL-EJ, 11, 1-13. Retrieved from http://www.cc.kyoto-su.ac.jp/information/teslej/ej43/a2.pdf

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Reitano, P. (2006, December). The value of video stimulated recall in reflective teaching practices. Paper presented at the Social Science Methodology Conference, University of Sydney, Australia. Ross, J. A. (2006). The reliability, validity, and utility of self-assessment. Practical Assessment Research & Evaluation, 11, 1-13. Retrieved from https://exams.library.utoronto.ca/handle/1807/30005 Sitzmann, T., Ely, K., Brown, K. G., & Bauer, K. N. (2010). Self-assessment of knowledge: A cognitive learning or affective measure? Academy of Management Learning & Education, 9, 169-191. doi:10.5465/AMLE.2010.51428542

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Appendices Appendix A Identity Pages Illustrated by Students Prior to the April Recording

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Appendix B Common Topics for the December Recording

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321

The Effects of Applying Betts' Autonomous Learner Model on Iranian Students Nahid Yarahmadzehi, Chabahar Maritime University, Iran Elham Bazleh, Chabahar Maritime University, Iran Abstract Classroom-based, teacher-directed language learning has been dominant in language teaching and learning for decades; however, the notion of autonomy is not novel to language teachers. Since the publication of Holec's book, Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning (1981), autonomy in language learning has been a significant issue for discussion in relation to language learning practices and language teaching principles. Many ESL researchers have turned their attention to learner autonomy in classroom settings; however, learner autonomy in the Iranian context within self-access settings, classroom settings, and school curriculum has not been adequately addressed in the literature. To fill the research gap mentioned above, the present study aims to determine: 1. if Betts’s Autonomous Learner Model (Betts & Kercher, 1999) has any significant effect in terms of students’ self-directed learning readiness, and 2. if Betts’s Autonomous Learner Model has any significant effect on students’ English language proficiency. Adopting a quasi-experimental design, the study involved a comparison between the experimental and the control group. Two instruments were used: Gugliemino’s (1977) Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS); and standardized TOEFL test. 30 students (group A) were taught English based on a pedagogical model, which blended Betts’s ALM with classroom instruction and 30 students (group B) were taught through a traditional teacher-directed method. Finally, after six months of treatment, TOEFL test and SDLRS test were administered as the post-test and the results were analyzed by means of SPSS software. The results showed that ALM can work with Iranian students as evidenced by generally average performance on SDLRS and TOEFL post-tests. Key words: Learner Autonomy, Autonomous Learner, Autonomous Learner Model.

Since the publication of Holec's book, Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning (1981), autonomy in language learning has been a significant issue for discussion in relation to language learning practices and language teaching principles. Holec (1981) defines learner autonomy as “the ability to take charge of one's own learning” and noting that this ability “is not inborn but must be acquired either by natural means or by formal learning” (p. 3). Taking charge according to Holec (1981, cited in Kumaravadivelu, 2006) means to have and to hold the responsibility for planning, for defining contents and progressions, for selecting methods and techniques to be used, for monitoring learning progress, and finally for evaluating what

310

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 has been acquired or self-assessment. Dickinson (1994, p. 2) believes that autonomy is “an attitude to learning rather than a methodology.” Benson (2003) argues that “we cannot teach students to become more autonomous… (But) we can create the atmosphere and conditions in which they will feel encouraged to develop the autonomy they already have” (p. 305). The Problem As Farhady, Jafarpur, and Birjandi (2007) observe, universities in Iran are not capable of accommodating all applicants who pass the examination, so entrance examination is a competition test rather than selection test. One possible way to obviate this problem is to increase the capacity of educational institutions to accommodate all who pass the test. In recent years, measures have been taken to increase the capacity by establishing distance learning universities and virtual learning centers. Moreover, rapid changes in information technology have necessitated the need to place more focus on English in order to improve students’ ability and capability to deal with the development of learning strategies in the new millennium. Much of the modern educational materials are developed in English; as a result, competency in English language is a definite advantage. In the ever-changing information era, Iranian students should not lag behind especially when there is a need to provide them the knowledge and skills necessary to make them 21stcentury learners. Attempts should be made to develop in students the ability to engage with, interact with and participate in particular learning environments that are not always directly mediated by the teacher, and to give them successful experiences of independent learning in such contexts as self-access centers. Autonomous leaning is meant to empower students to go beyond the limits of the classroom, and continue their own learning and communicative innovation outside the classroom. Encouraging the students to be autonomous learners will also be beneficial for them in the future because they will learn to be lifelong learners. Consequently, the development of self-directed learning skills could be a possible solution for the problem. The major goal of the Autonomous Learner Model (ALM) is to facilitate the growth of students as independent, self-directed learners who function with minimal external guidance. ALM is one of the leading models worldwide, and its flexible approach permits its adaptation and application in different situations and with different learners. A description of the model is provided later in the paper. The specific research questions this study set out to answer were: 1. Does the application of the Autonomous Learner Model have an effect on students’ selfdirected learning readiness?

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 2. Does the application of the Autonomous Learner Model have an effect on students’ English language proficiency? Methodology Participants 60 students were chosen from learners of an English language institution located in the city of Fasa, Fars province, 30 females and 30 males, ranging in age from 15 to 19. They were at a low intermediate level of English proficiency. It was a general English proficiency course which focused on four language skills namely, speaking, listening, reading, and writing. The participants’ first language was Farsi. The length of their English study was 4 to 5 years. The students formed two teaching classes: one class (group A) was involved in the experiment while the other class (group B) was taught in a traditional teacher-directed way which is the main approach in Iran. The classes were held three days a week for twenty weeks. Each session was two hours. Instruments Standardized English Proficiency Test (TOEFL) A standardized proficiency test, TOEFL (taken from Nolan-Woods & Broukal, 1991), was used to determine both groups A and B levels’ of English proficiency. The test was administered twice, once at the beginning and once at the end of the course. Self-Directed Learning Readiness Scale (SDLRS) The SDLRS was designed by Gugielmino in 1977 It is a 58-item, five-point Likert scale instrument, which measures a total score for self-directed learning readiness. Since its creation, its construct validity has been confirmed through numerous studies. It is generally accepted as the most valid and widely used instrument of its kind. Scale questions were presented in English to avoid measurement error which could be attributed to translation of the scale into Farsi. Scale instruction was written in Farsi so that there would be no misunderstanding.

Treatment of experimental group The major goal of the ALM is to facilitate the growth of students as independent, self-

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 directed learners, with the development of skills, concepts, and positive attitudes within the cognitive, emotional, and social domains in order to initiate their learning and evaluate its outcome. In other words, the model aims at helping students become 21st century learners through the use of activities in the five major dimensions of the model. The five dimensions of the model are: orientation, individual development, enrichment, seminars, and in-depth study. In order to meet objectives of the five dimensions of the model, different activities of each dimension were selected and implemented in the experimental group classroom. The activities are presented in Table 1. Table 1. Dimensions and Activities of the ALM.

Dimensions

Activities

Orientation

Multiple Intelligences Worksheet, group building activities (Temperature Readings).

Individual development

Lifelong notebook, six selves, technology matrix, organizational skills activities.

Enrichment

Exploration, investigation.

Seminars

Seminar.

In-depth studies

In-depth- study.

It should be emphasized that the teaching material was the same, and the same teacher taught both groups A and B. Group Aâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s teaching was based on a pedagogical model, which blended Bettsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ALM (Betts & Kercher,1999) with classroom-based instruction. Students came to class and the instructor delivered a short lesson. The regular curriculum was compacted into 1 hour a day and the materials for the Autonomous Learner were covered during the remaining 1 hour. By omitting the corresponding parts of regular curriculum in which students demonstrate quick mastery of and substituting alternative work or moving through the curriculum at a faster pace, curriculum can be compacted so the teacher can devote remaining class time to autonomous learning. This way, students would not view it as extra work. No exercises were done in the classroom. The students were asked to do the exercises by themselves or with the help of their groups, and just as a last resort come to the teacher. The rest of the class time was devoted to implementing Bettsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; ALM (Betts & Kercher, 1999), which incorporated the following features: 313

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 Orientation dimension: Students first filled in a Multiple Intelligences Worksheet to find out what their different multiple intelligences are, which they shared with their teacher. Students did group-building activities to develop a cohesive group. In ALM, group learning which holds the team and each individual accountable for learning the materials is highly recommended. Betts and Kercher (1999) believe that “communication, trust, acceptance, and openness are essential ingredients for the successful development of positive group interaction throughout the model” (p. 95). Temperature Readings activity allows learners to take their emotional temperature which is one type of affective strategies based on Oxford’s (1990) division. This affective exercise allows students to share their emotional ‘temperature’ and learn to read one another’s ‘thermometers.’ Then, they should be able to manage their emotions, which mean they should be able to monitor and regulate their feelings so they aid rather than impede the handling of situations. Individual Development: Students did Inter/ Intra Personal activities which include Lifelong Notebook, assessments relating to Six Selves which aimed at developing in students a deeper awareness of life-long learning, and apply the results to their own life. The students were asked to add information to all ten sections of the Lifelong Notebook throughout the next two years. The ten sections included lifelong reading list, provocative quotes, provocative questions, goals and dreams, people and places, adventures and experiences, areas of possible study, favorite friends and relatives, poems and especial writings, and miscellaneous. Technology activities which include Technology Matrix, and Collage provide students with the opportunity to identify the technology available in the world today, decide what technology is needed in the next few months and the next year, and applying what they know how to do today and learn what they want to use in the near future. Organizational Skills activities which include Life Management, Goal Setting, and Time Management were also implemented. Good life management ensures that every aspect of life grows as it should. Without life management, it is easy to leave out some aspects of personal growth while overemphasizing the others. The Life Management activity provides an opportunity for learners to pay attention to different areas of their lives and indicate their degree of satisfaction in each of the areas. This way they realize the truth of where they actually are, and this realization in turn gives them the motivation to do something about it. Goal setting involves learners in determining what they want to accomplish within a stated time period. The Goal Setting activity offers learners a chance to set goals and prioritize them and the Time Management activity familiarizes learners with the strategies to manage their time and 314

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 use time creatively. Students must be able to manage their time. Time management involves scheduling, planning, and managing one’s study time and this involves setting aside time for study, using that study time effectively, and setting realistic goals and timetables for their studies. Moon (2002, p. 19) quotes Csikszentmihalyi (1997) who asserts that “time is the ultimate scarce source that we have.” (See Betts & Kercher, (1999) for more details about the activities). Enrichment: Enrichment provides opportunities for students to work with authentic materials which they can easily relate to and are interested in. Students were encouraged to begin exploration by finding out what is out there for learning English, and bringing in the English they have found on their own. They were asked to explore the topic of language learning and technology. The objectives were to learn how to listen and how to learn about topics where there is little or no knowledge and to share the new knowledge verbally with the rest of the class. The process of exploration is never completed, for there is always something new to learn. After that, they were asked to firstly report on what they have done to enhance their English outside the class, and secondly present their findings to the class. Students were asked to use their notebooks as records of the English they discovered on their own (See Betts & Kercher, 1999). Research investigations provide learners with opportunities to participate in a longer term commitment to a topic. Each group was asked to articulate their topic. The teacher only acted as a facilitator, offering support and guidance through the process where necessary. Learners completed the proposal. Topics of interest to students became central to the research investigations, which included “the effects of starving or fasting on the body”, “the life of Coco, the designer of Chanel,” “Mahtma Gandhi” (students learned how positive attitudes allowed people to overcome hardships or accomplish great feats), and “the life of highly critical and creative thinkers like Socrates and Plato.” By selecting such topics and getting familiar with those who had highly critical and creative thinking, students were able to discover for themselves the characteristics of good thinking. Once each group selected a topic, they began the investigation by writing questions about their topics. Then, they began collecting data through different sources of information, for example books, internet searches, and videos. The final steps, presentation and evaluation, not only put closure to the students’ investigations but also gave them the opportunity to reflect on how they learned so that they were able to talk to other students about formulating questions, gathering and organizing information, and developing a final mini-product. Most groups used Microsoft PowerPoint presentation software. The groups which investigated the life of Socrates and Plato, developed a questionnaire that they used in an interview with one of the members who took the roles of Socrates and Plato. The students conducted the interview, and shared their knowledge with the audience by actually becoming that person. Other students were also allowed to ask questions when 315

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 the interview was over. Each group completed evaluation forms. Evaluations focused on what the learner had learned and what she or he might have done differently in order to improve the next piece of work. The teacher also gave feedback on their work. Investigations trained students in specific skills they would need to conduct research which would be needed at the next stage. Seminars: Learners in small groups researched a topic, presented it as a seminar to the rest of the class, and assessed it using their own selected and developed criteria. The seminars change the students’ role to learners. The topics learners selected included: “English speaking countries’ holidays, customs, values and traditions that are different from theirs,” “games,” “the life of Elizabeth Taylor.” Groups presented general information to their classmates through the use of lectures and then engaged the rest of the class in generating new ideas and opinions, they discussed the topic, and finally through a discussion of what had been learned, the groups brought the discussion to a closure (See Betts & Kercher, 1999). In-depth study: At the end of this stage, by completing an in-depth study, the learner has the ability to perform at the highest level of learning. At this point students are becoming learners and researchers. This dimension provides students with the opportunity to conduct research. Students pursued areas of interest in long-term individual or small-group studies. They were asked to submit their proposals. Most learners decided to research their favorite topics in English which included: “what are the main majors of biology at different universities in Iran and their career possibilities,” “what is the best way to lose weight,” “which jobs are most needed in near future,” and “what can be done to reduce inflation” Students were asked to define a problem, then, by brainstorming, students identified relevant information. The students interviewed a person who could help them with their topics. For example, for losing weight the student interviewed a physician and a personal trainer. After that, they were asked to generate specific hypotheses beginning with words such as “… is the best way to lose weight because…” Next, they wrote out specific, step-by-step instructions for testing their hypotheses, trying to control as many variables as possible. For example, one student wrote: “1. doing exercise for two months, following a vegetarian diet for 2 months, taking weight loss pills for two months; 2. weigh the participants before and after the experiment; 3. compare the results for the different treatments.” Finally, students were asked to analyze their information and state their conclusions. After the course finished, students were required to continue their work in their own groups or individually as far as possible. Other phases of their work were explained to them. This stage of the course was not monitored or assessed by the teacher.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 Results and Discussion The quantitative data from SDLRS and TOEFL test were analyzed using SPSS to obtain descriptive and inferential statistical results (Table 2). Table 2. Descriptive Statistics of SDLRS Scores. Groups

Variable

Mean

Standard

Minimum

Maximum

Range

deviation SDLRS

Group A

Pre-test

170

36.6

109

230

121

N= 30

Post-test

230

29.2

179

285

106

Group B

Pre-test

170

36.7

106

231

125

N= 30

Post-test

180

36.7

116

242

126

The average score for adults completing SDLRS questionnaire is 214 and the standard deviation is 25.59. As table 2 indicates, the pre-test mean score of SDLRS of group A and B are both 170. Both groups’ readiness for self-directed learning, according to Table 2, was below the adult average before the intervention. The post-test mean scores of group A and B are respectively 230 and 180. The mean scores of the two groups are not the same. After the intervention, the control group’s (B) readiness for self-directed learning was still below average but, the experimental group’s (A) readiness for self-directed learning increased to around average. Table 3. Descriptive Statistics of TOEFL Scores. Groups

Variable

Mean

Standard

Minimum

Maximum

Range

deviation TOEFL

Group A

Pre-test

360

22.6

330

405

75

N= 30

Post-test

420

33.7

382

490

108

Group B

Pre-test

370

24.4

330

409

79

N= 30

Post-test

410

34.1

352

482

130

As shown in Table 3, the pre-test mean scores of group A and B respectively are 360 and 370 and the standard deviations are 22.6 and 24.4. The post-test mean scores of groups A

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 and B respectively are 420 and 410 and the standard deviations are 33.7 and 34.1. Before the intervention, the English proficiency level of both groups was low intermediate, but after the intervention period, the English proficiency level of both groups improved to intermediate level. Table 4. Independent Samples T-test of SDLRS Scores for Both Groups A and B Prior to the Experiment. Test statistical index

N

SDLRS

Degrees of freedom

60

t

58

Level of significance

.62

.536

Table 4 indicates that the difference between SDLRS scores of both groups A and B is not statistically significant. Table 5. Independent Samples T-test of SDLRS Scores for Groups A and B After the Experiment. Test statistical index N SDLRS

Degrees of freedom t

60

58

Level of significance

-7.33

.000

Table 5 represents the t-test results for examining the difference between both groups A and Bâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s post-test mean scores. The value of P is smaller than .05 which means that the difference between SDLRS mean scores of both groups is statistically significant. The mean score and the standard deviation of group A are 230 and 29.2 respectively. The mean score and the standard deviation of group B are 180 and 36.7, respectively. Table 6. Independent Samples T-test of TOEFL Test for Groups Prior to the Experiment. Test statistical index N TOEFL

60

Degrees of freedom t 58

.642

318

Level of significance .523

SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 As table 6 indicates the difference between TOEFL scores of groups A and B is not statistically significant. Table 7. Independent Samples T-test of TOEFL Test for Groups A and B After the Experiment. Test statistical index N TOEFL

60

Degrees of freedom 59

t

Level of significance

-15.92

.000

Table 7 represents the t-test results for examining the difference between both groups A and B’s post-test mean scores. P value is smaller than .05 which means that the difference between TOEFL mean scores of both groups is statistically significant. The mean score and the standard deviation of group A are 420 and 33.7 respectively. The mean score and the standard deviation of group B are 410 and 34.1 respectively. In other words, group A has a statistically significantly higher mean score on TOEFL than group B. Conclusions The investigation showed a statistically significant increase in the experimental group’s TOEFL and SDLRS scores. On the whole, most of the learners achieved success in their language learning. The results indicated that there is a statistically significant difference between the mean score of both groups A and B (t (58) =-15.92, p=.000) on TOEFL scores. In other words, group A had a statistically significantly higher mean score on TOEFL than group B. The difference between both groups in the post-test was also statistically significant (t (58) =-7.33, p=.000) on SDLRS test. In other words, group A had a statistically significantly higher mean score on SDLRS than group B. The results showed that ALM can work with Iranian students as evidenced by generally average performance on SDLRS and TOEFL post-tests. The model may have better effects if it is applied in earlier education. Applying ALM earlier has this advantage that it will not be necessary to try to change students’ attitudes regarding learning. In addition, students who became familiar with the research style and more autonomous approaches in the first grade would be able to take full advantage of the skills and knowledge they gained through this model in their future education. The research indicates that attempts to incorporate autonomous learning into school curriculum would be beneficial.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research The samples consisted of a small number of participants. It is clear, therefore, that these samples are not representative of Iranian students in general. The findings related to the effects of applying this model would be more revealing and robust if students could be observed for a longer period of time, in later stages of their education, and with increased sample size which was not feasible within the scope of present work. The effects of this model can also be investigated with students at other levels of education. Researchers could investigate the effects of the whole version of this model over a period of at least three years. Notes on the contributors Nahid, Yarahmadzehi is a lecturer and head of the English language department at Chabahar Maritime University, where she teaches and supervises MA students. Elham, Bazleh is an MA student at the Chabahar Maritime University, Iran. References Benson, P. (2003). Learner autonomy in the classroom. In D. Nunan (Ed.), Practical English language teaching (pp. 289-308). New York: McGraw Hill. Betts, G.T., & Kercher, J. K. (1999). The autonomous learner model: Optimizing ability. Greeley, CO: ALPS. Dickinson, L. (1994). Learner autonomy: What, why, and how. In Leffa, V. J. (Ed.), Autonomy in language learning (pp. 1-12). Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul. Farhady, H. Jafarpour, A., & Birjandi, P. (2007). Testing language skills: From theory to practice. Tehran: The Organization for Researching and Composing University Textbook in Humanities. Guglielmino, L. M. (1977). Development of the self-directed learning readiness scale. Georgia, GA: University of Georgia. Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy and foreign language learning. Oxford, UK: Pergamon. Kumaravadivelu, B. (2006). Understanding language teaching: From method to postmethod. London, UK: LEA.

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SiSAL Journal Vol. 3, No. 3, September 2012, 310-321 Moon, S. M. (2002). Developing personal talent. In MĂśnks F. J., & Wagner, H. (Eds.), Personal talent, intelligence and special abilities. Development of human potential: Investment into our future (pp. 11-21). Bonn, Germany: K.H Bock. Nolan-Woods, E., & Broukal, M. (1991). NTCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preparation for the TOEFL. U.S.A.: NTC. Oxford, R. (1990). Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know. Rowley, MA: Newbury House.

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