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Volume 5 Number 1, Spring 2008, Pages 1-157   

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Teachers' Roles in Developing Learner Autonomy in the East Asian Region

    Shien Sakai, Man-ping Chu, Akiko Takagi and Seongwon Lee

Teachers' Roles in Developing Learner Autonomy in the East Asian Region
This study investigated university students' perceptions of learner autonomy in English learning in the East Asian region. The study was conducted in 2006 based on the assumption that promoting learner autonomy is an appropriate pedagogical goal in EFL environments if teachers are aware of their roles, and that unique concepts of learner autonomy should be established and their applications for East Asian classrooms explored. The purposes were 1) to find out whether subjects from three different language areas could be surveyed about learner autonomy by one set of questionnaires and 2) to discover any common factors related to learner autonomy with regard to the subjects' perceptions of responsibility and English learning activities outside of class. One hundred and seven Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese students were asked to answer the questionnaires. The authors analyzed the data using factor analysis. Three common factors were identified: "class management," "study outside the class," and "past regret." These results proved the appropriateness of the questionnaires, though some revision is needed. The data also indicated the existence of a factor that may inhibit students from developing learner autonomy. Based on the study, the authors suggest that teachers should give students more opportunities to control their own learning as well as providing them with more support for continuing their study outside of the classroom in order to develop learner autonomy in an East Asian context.

Keywords: learner autonomy, communicative language teaching, self-direction, learner-centered, independence