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Journal Articles Language Learning in Higher Education Year : 2021

Autonomy in language centres: myth or reality?


Autonomy in language learning is for many language centres in higher education a pedagogical goal. However, although autonomy is a concept that has been associated with language learning for almost 40 years, both the understanding of that concept and its implementation in classroom-settings and in self-access language centres vary considerably. In 2017 and 2018 the Cercles Focus Group on Autonomy worked on a survey that was circulated among Cercles language centres, in order to discover to what extent autonomy is part of the language curriculum. Approximately one fifth of the language centres answered the questionnaire, representing 18 different countries. The results of this survey show that autonomous learning schemes are provided in various centres in the form of self-access language learning modalities, blended learning, learning advising as support for independent and cooperative learning, tutoring and tandem learning. However, the understanding of the notion of autonomy and therefore the pedagogical practices vary considerably. In this article, we illustrate the results of the survey, highlight similarities and differences emerging from it, and critically reflect upon issues addressed by the answers. In addition, we briefly discuss the results of some interviews conducted after the survey with stakeholders at different language centres. Recommendations for the future conclude the paper.


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Dates and versions

hal-03181530 , version 1 (25-03-2021)



Anne Chateau, Maria Giovanna Tassinari. Autonomy in language centres: myth or reality?. Language Learning in Higher Education, 2021, 11 (1), pp.51-66. ⟨10.1515/cercles-2021-2002⟩. ⟨hal-03181530⟩
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