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Learner Autonomy and Voice in a Tertiary ELT Institution in Oman

Al-Sadi, Hashil (2015) Learner Autonomy and Voice in a Tertiary ELT Institution in Oman. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

Learner autonomy was first defined as the learner’s capacity to take charge of his or her own learning (Holec, 1981). It has become part of the current orthodoxy of language learning and teaching research and practice (Benson, 2009a). However, issues such as what learner autonomy might mean, how it is practised and how it may contribute to language learning, especially from learners’ perspectives, are under-researched in the Omani context. In addition, research on how Omani learners themselves define their roles in language learning and how their definitions might link to their behaviour in and outside the classroom is seriously lacking. This study therefore is an attempt to explore such issues in the Omani context through listening to the learners themselves. The main goals of this study were to find out what we could learn from students’ voices about their language learning and language learning context and how learner autonomy might manifest itself through these voices. Drawing on constructivism and interpretivism traditions, the study employed First-Language Reflective Group Conversations (L1-RGCs) and Reflective Journals to gain qualitative data from a sample of fifteen post-foundation undergraduate students in a tertiary English as a Foreign Language (EFL) institution in Oman. Unlike the research on English Language Learning and Teaching (ELLT) in the Omani context, which suggests that learners are teacher dependent and lacking the capacity for autonomous learning, the findings of the present study suggest that students’ actual capacities for language learning have been largely underestimated and misrepresented. Students do appear to be metacognitively aware of the benefits and conduct of autonomy in language learning and do exercise their agency in language learning, for example in out-of-class language learning situations. Students’ autonomous learning behaviour, however, has been found to be greatly conditioned by the learners’ own learning needs and agendas as well as the learning environment itself. The present investigation also revealed a disparity between how the students perceive their roles in and responsibility for learning and how they actually experience them in their daily learning situations. The present study points to avenues for additional research on learner autonomy, especially on ways of exploring students’ awareness (or insider perceptions) of their roles in and responsibility for language learning and how such awareness could help them become more reflective learners.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: ELT, learner autonomy, metacognitive knowledge, students' perceptions, higher education, Oman
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Social Sciences (Sheffield) > School of Education (Sheffield)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.655291
Depositing User: Dr Hashil Al-Sadi
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2015 11:27
Last Modified: 03 Oct 2016 12:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/9294

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