A Study on Learner Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning Based on the Theory of Metacognitive Strategies
|School||Changchun University of|
|Course||Foreign Linguistics and Applied Linguistics|
|Keywords||metacognitive strategies learner autonomy foreign language teaching and learning|
In the 1970’s, researches on language learning strategies appeared in the Western countries. Language researchers and teachers found that students had different outcomes of language learning although they were taught by the same teaching methods in the same learning environment. The researches on learning strategies in China began in the early 1990s. Some Chinese scholars, taking Professor Wen Qiufang from Nanjing University as the representative, conducted a series of researches on language learning strategies in China. From then on, a path to the researches on language learning strategies in China was opened up. Language learning strategies include metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies and social/affective strategies, among which metacognitive strategies are to supervise, monitor and self-regulate learners’language learning process. However, there are few studies and practice on the metacognitive strategies training, even fewer studies in foreign language teaching in China.The thesis tries to discuss the importance of metacognitive strategies in fostering learners autonomous learning and find certain suitable ways for teachers to foster students learner autonomy in foreign language teaching. The thesis begins with the literature review of learning strategies, including its development, definitions and classifications; gets a definition of metacognitive strategies according to O’Malley and Chamot’s classification of learning strategies—metacognitive strategies, cognitive strategies and social/affective strategies, that is, metacognitive strategies are operation or means that learners adopt to plan, monitor and evaluate their learning on their own. In the following part, the thesis discusses the definitions of learner autonomy given by Holec, Huttunen, Littlewood and Benson & Voller. On the basis of all these definitions, the thesis formulates a working definition: learner autonomy involves both learner’s capacity and learning act of the motivated learners to consciously and actively make appropriate decisions about their own language learning. Through the study, the author finds the relationship between them, that is, autonomous learners can make use of metacognitive strategies effectively by planning, monitoring and evaluating their language learning. While language learners who can apply metacognitive strategies to the language learning flexibly actually meet the demand of being autonomous learners, which lays a good theoretical foundation for proposing some suggestions in the latter part of the thesis.The author uses the questionnaire to investigate 58 non-English major senior students in Changchun University of Technology who are naturally divided into three groups according to their language achievements in the College English Tests Band 6 and Band 4, they are more successful learners, successful learners and unsuccessful learners. From the analysis of the data in their questionnaires, the paper draws a conclusion:learners’attitudes towards learner autonomy in foreign language learning and their use of metacognitive strategies greatly affect their language achievements.Based on these findings, the thesis proposes a suggestion:Metacognitive Strategies-Based Instruction, which may be beneficial for foreign language teaching and improving learners’language achievements. The teacher should master the guidelines for metacognitive strategies training in order to give the effective instructions to the students, including the purposes and contents of training, and learners’proper attitude towards strategy training. While teachers, who take immeasurable place in the course of metacognitive strategies training, should take strategy training as one part of foreign language teaching and select the appropriate examination material for students to help them test effects of the use of metacognitive strategies and their ability of autonomous language learning.To sum up, teachers should instruct learners how to appropriately apply metacognitive strategies to their language learning and encourage them to foster autonomous learning ability, making great effort to improve the quality of teaching. Therefore, the thesis provides a new angle and layer for studying the application of metacognitive strategies, and it is instructive for learners in foreign language learning.