A Case Study of Promoting Autonomy

A   Case Study of Promoting Autonomy
                Among Non-English Majors

Abstract: To solve the problem of teaching English to a large class, the author of this paper has tried to promote learner autonomy among non-English majors. After one year’s experiment, the author proves that autonomous learning can enhance the students’ interest and performance in English, including their listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. However, the extent of autonomy should be strictly graded and the teacher should assume more responsibility at the initial stage.
Key Words: English, learner autonomy, non-English majors

1.1 Introduction
  Over the last two decades, the concept of learner autonomy has become a "buzz word" within the context of language learning. Because autonomy is often associated with independence, self-fulfillment, freedom from external constraints and living one's own world without being subject to the will of others, it causes many writers to suggest that autonomous learning has little relevance outside the "individualistic" Western context in which it originated (Farmer & Sweeney, 1994; Naoko, 1995; Benson, 1995; Esch, 1996; Tang, 1996). In the mean time, other linguists strongly argue for the existence of human universals and think the demands of a changing world will impose on learners of all cultures the need to learn without the help of teachers (Cornwell and Cronk, 1979). The autonomous learning experiments of Gardner & Miller (1997), Icy Lee (1998) and Marshall and Torpey (1997) also seem to prove the belief that autonomous learning is an effective method for East Asian learners. In Mainland China, although many writers who have touched upon learner autonomy in foreign language learning, but most of them focus on theory introduction and very few case study of the effect of autonomous learning has been reported yet, especially among non-English majors. On the other hand, in recent years, with the ever¬¬¬-increasing number of college...