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Volume 4 Number 3, Autumn 2007, Pages 1-240   

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Autonomous English Learning among Postgraduate EFL Learners in China: A Study of Attitudes and Behaviors

    Guo Yan

In the field of foreign language education, learner autonomy, one of the ultimate goals of education, has been greatly promoted in China ever since the late 1990s. The present study examined via a questionnaire the status quo of Chinese postgraduate students' autonomous English learning (AEL), aiming to present a clear picture of students' autonomous learning situation for the improving of pedagogy. 292 postgraduate students from 7 universities were asked to report their attitudes towards AEL and actual out-of-class AEL behaviors. The findings revealed that postgraduate students generally held strongly positive attitudes towards AEL but exhibited only moderate frequency of autonomous learning behaviors outside of class. Students' attitudes and behaviors were statistically significantly correlated, but the correlation was not high enough to guarantee that positive attitudes will bring about high frequency of AEL behaviors. Except for the perception of the importance of classroom teaching and learning, students of different genders showed no significant differences in either attitudes towards AEL or AEL behaviors. Suggestions on postgraduate English teaching were subsequently discussed.

Keywords: postgraduate English teaching, autonomous English learning (AEL), attitude towards AEL, AEL behavior