Summary for this chat contributed by Vladimira Michalkova and first posted on her blog, Vladimira’s Blog. Vladimira is @vladkaslniecko on Twitter! Many thanks!!!!


26/01/2011 – Another great #ELTchat – Ways to develop learner autonomy – tips for learning outside class time.




“I never teach my students. I simply provide the situations in which they can learn.” Einstein


Main goals:
• Make your students independent of the teacher
• Help the learner to become independent and become his/her own mentor
• provide students with the tools to be able to learn on their own
• make your students part of the decision making about classroom activities


The role of teacher in developing learner autonomy:
• model role
• moderator
• facilitator


How autonomy starts in classroom:
• Give them choice
• Show them ways of learning
• Use the learners’ interest
• Talk about it in classroom


Here are the tips:
• show them how to learn (teach them also study skills), what suits them most and how to get most out of it
• Show learners ideas from your own learning (writing coloured words on papers, putting them on the walls). You can be a good role model for your students.
• suggest websites, radio stations anything that could be interesting and can motivate them to use these things outside classroom
• Films – discuss the films in classroom, watch film with/without subtitles, watch film in L1 and then in L2.
• Give them mLearning tech and tools
• Show them how to do things on the blog which they do at home (toondoo, embedding youtube,
• etc. ), create class blogs, yahoogroups
• Have your students set the objectives and then have them evaluate their progress
• Give them tools like spidergrams, guessing from context, train dictionary use
• Use student-generated content, peer pressure/role modeling
• Use self-access box in your classroom
• Do not let your course book limit you in developing learner autonomy – enrich, adapt, enliven it
• Tell your students about multitasking – learn while doing something else
• Show them the ways they can use course book at home (transcripts, grammar pages…)
• never do anything that you can get students to do
• Make your students think about why you do some activities in classroom, help them to become aware of the purpose
• Show them how they can use target language outside the classroom (where they can find it)
• Students’ diaries/journals/audio diaries
• Give them feedback (more than correction)
• Be careful with homework – think how to present it (rather search/project/task like than exercise or a worksheet to fill in)
• Use readers, classroom library
• Encourage your students to make friends with other people using English for communication
• Record your students…and their progress
• Encourage students to use Google Docs as their online vocabulary notebooks
• Ask them to teach (what they have learned) someone else, family members, friends…
• Persuade your students to use their mobiles in English for a week or so… (switch to English where you can)


Useful web applications:
• Voicethread
• Vocaroo
• wikis
• Tutorials (,
• Moodle
• Audio boo


Further reading/activities developing on Learners’ Autonomy:

  • lecture by Leni Dam on learner autonomy –
  • 40 odd websites to learn outside the classroom –
  • A lesson by @sabridv where students take over the teaching for a day –
  • I have also blogged about the stuff related to learners’ autonomy so if you are interested you can find it here:
  • Learner Autonomy – a guide to developing learner responsibility (Agota Scharle and Anita Szabo), Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers
  • Holec, one of the main sources of inspiration for LA
  • some free books with audio recordings on


Thanks for great, inspiring and motivational #ELTchat. You can join the chat on Twitter every Wednesday!

by Vladimira Michalkova