Fostering Autonomy through Meaningful Homework in Foreign Language Education


There is an important dichotomy between teachers' and students' expectations in university. Teachers focus on content and skills that they feel students need to become successful adults, while students are divided between learning and enjoying their life as a young adult. In foreign language contexts especially, contact with the target language is limited or non-existent outside of class, and 'homework provides a way to increase the amount of contact that the learners have with English' (Nation, 2013). There is a need to re-think the role of homework for university students, not only to improve learning in general, but to foster autonomy and trigger 'self-directed naturalistic learning' (Benson, 2013) motivated by pleasure of learning and interest. Since successful autonomous learners often develop their own strategies over their learning careers (Murray, 2008), teachers must provide students with opportunities to develop individual interests and learning strategies through semi-controlled homework. This research will present different ways of rendering homework relevant by connecting learning to students' lives and by encouraging autonomous behaviours. It will also make connections between what students learn in content classes taught in their first language and second language classes. Both the teachers' and students' perspectives will be analysed through interviews and questionnaires related to research projects, extra-curricular activities, volunteering, getting involved in the community, etc. Several successfully tested ways of stimulating learning autonomy outside of the classroom will be presented.

Author Information
Etienne Marceau, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACE2017
Stream: Foreign Languages Education & Applied Linguistics (including ESL/TESL/TEFL)

This paper is part of the ACE2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon