Many EFL classrooms at Japanese universities still adopt the traditional 'teacher-centered approach', where authority belongs to the teacher and who is the active entity in the classroom. In many cases, the role of the student is a passive one. Many students expect to be 'spoon-fed' in their learning process; not speak, but listen and therefore assume that this is their role as a learner. The characteristics of the collectivist, passive, teacher-dependent Japanese learner (Littlewood, 1999) may strongly inhibit them from being able to take responsibility for their own individual learning, or even learning why it is important to be an autonomous learner. Due to socio-cultural influences, traditional methods and attitudes of classroom learning in Japan, there is still the perception that it is the 'teacher' who is solely responsible for their learning, and not the 'student'. Many people view that cooperative learning is more of a 'Western' approach to learning and that Japanese students are not aware that being cooperative in one's learning is a vital 21st century skill in itself. Students do not get enough practice in utilizing skills in the classroom such as problem-solving, critical thinking and leadership building. This article will briefly analyze the results of research conducted on Japanese university students' learning experiences in the EFL classroom. The author will discuss students' experiences of learning in the L2 classroom, analyze students opinions and attitudes about cooperative learning, and concluding by giving suggestions on how ways to promote learner autonomy through cooperative learning.
Michi Saki, Doshisha Women's College of Liberal Arts, Japan
Stream: Learning Strategies
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