The Language Learner’s Role

Last week I spoke about the different roles a teacher can undertake when teaching languages. This week I will be talking about the role of the learner and how they can contribute to their own learning process and learner autonomy.

Role of the Learner

  • The learner should be co-operative instead of individualistic, and avoid working completely on their own. They should co-operate with their teacher and other students.
  • The learner should actively participate in the lesson instead of just being a passive observer. If the learner is actively involved in the class they will retain new information better.
  • The learner should be the negotiator of meaning. They should ascribe their own meaning to what is being taught and get confirmation of this. This will give them a clearer understanding of what they are learning.

computer-1185626_640Learner Autonomy

Communicative Language Teaching led to a focus on learners becoming more autonomous. Learner autonomy is the ability of the student to take charge of their own learning. The student reflects on what makes an efficient learner and they become one during the process. Learner autonomy includes the following:

  • Learners study entirely by themselves. Learners learn on their own with no input from others.
  • They develop a set of skills which they can use and apply in self-directed learning.
  • It suits students who have an inborn capacity which may be suppressed by a traditional education.
  • Students take responsibility for their own learning and learn at their own pace.
  • Learners have the ability to choose the direction of their own learning. They can choose which areas to focus on and material which is the most personally useful or interesting to them.

Characteristics of an Autonomous Learnerbooks-1149959_640

  • Students have insight into their own learning styles and strategies.
  • Take an active approach when learning the target language.
  • Are willing to take risks with the language even if they are not fluent.
  • When unsure, students guess the answer instead of staying blank.
  • Place importance on both accuracy and fluency.
  • Are confident when using the target language.


The biggest influence on language learning is the learner themselves. If the learner is not motivated and dedicated enough their learning rate will be slow. There is only so much a teacher can do as often students are not actually taking in what is being taught. When students take learning into their own hands this yields the best results. The learner can supplement their language studies by learning outside the classroom and using the language in real life settings. This way the student can pick up the language faster and get on the road to becoming fluent.

Next week I will talk about the importance of phonetics and pronunciation and how they are linked.

All images used are from Pixabay and are free from copyright.

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