Learner Autonomy in Developing Countries

Richard Smith, Kuchah Kuchah, Martin Lamb

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter or section

18 Citations (SciVal)


Learner autonomy as a concept has its origins in Europe, and for a time there were even questions about whether it had relevance for other educational cultures. This chapter suggests that it may have special relevance now for learners in developing countries, and specifically in less well-resourced contexts. We argue that this is the case because there is still a dissonance between what formal education offers, or can offer, and what many learners want. For example, globalization and its technologies are having the effect of increasing the desire for English among young people and providing novel means of accessing it, while their school English lessons remain largely unchanged, dependent on the textbooks, assessments and the professionalism of their class teacher. In many developing world contexts, therefore, there is evidence that successful language learners are, almost by default, autonomous learners who can exploit out-of-school resources, while some of most effective pedagogy involves deliberately promoting learner autonomy as a means of confronting the challenges of low resource educational environments. This chapter argues for more research into both these phenomena, in order to increase understanding of them and to enable identification of principles for practice. The chapter also emphasises the need for such research to be conducted with and by local teachers and learners.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAutonomy in Language Learning and Teaching; New Research Agendas.
EditorsAlice Chik, Naoko Aoki, Richard Smith
Place of PublicationBasingstoke
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Pages7 - 27
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-52998-5
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-52997-8
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2017


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