David Little – Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland
Language learner autonomy and multi-modality
The most successful language learning environments are those in which, from the beginning, the target language is the principal channel of the learners’ agency: the communicative and metacognitive medium through which, individually and collaboratively, they plan, execute, monitor and evaluate their own learning. This claim arises from an understanding of language learner autonomy that is shaped by three considerations. First, learners know what it is to be autonomous from their lives outside the classroom; thus our task as teachers is not to convert them to autonomy, but to find ways on focusing their existing capacity for autonomous behaviour on the business of language learning. Secondly, we do this by giving our learners co-responsibility for planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating their learning: processes in which the collaborative dynamic of the classroom provides a social-interactive frame for the cognitive-organizational effort of the individual learner. And thirdly, because authentic, spontaneous language use plays an essential role in effective language learning, we must find ways of helping our learners to channel their autonomy, or agency, through the target language from the very beginning.
My presentation will elaborate this view of language learner autonomy with reference to the dual challenge posed by multi-modality. On the one hand it offers radical alternatives to the modes of communication by which knowledge has traditionally been accessed, appropriated, reproduced, and further developed; on the other, it gives enhanced autonomy to learners’ lives outside the classroom.
Keywords: agency, communication, learner autonomy, metacognition, multi-modality, target language use
David Little retired in 2008 as Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics and Head of the School of Linguistic, Speech and Communication Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. His principal research interests are the theory and practice of learner autonomy in second language education, the exploitation of linguistic diversity in schools and classrooms, and the use of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to support the design of second language curricula, teaching and assessment. Starting in 1998, he played a leading role in the development and implementation of the European Language Portfolio, and he has been a member of several Council of Europe expert groups.
Olga Esteve Ruescas (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
María González Davies (Universitat Ramon Llull)
Fostering the development of communicative competence in foreign languages through translation: a new approach?
Translation is usually considered as a one to one correspondence between languages that facilitates occasional hasty understanding. Translation, however, can become an explicit learning tool that enriches foreign language learning in different ways and for different reasons.
Olga Esteve Ruescas was a teacher of German as a foreign language in the Official School of Languages in Barcelona (Drassanes) for 16 years. Currently, she is a lecturer at the Faculty of Translation and Interpretation (Universitat Pompeu Fabra). She holds a PhD in Education. Her main areas of research are foreign language learning processes, especially with respect to self-regulated learning, Integrated Treatment of Language and learning languages from the perspective of competence. She combines research with classroom practice and teacher training.
Dr. Maria Gonzalez Davies is a lecturer in the Department of Foreign Languages and Education at the Faculty of Psychology, Education and Sport Sciences Blanquerna at the Ramon Llull University in Barcelona. She previously worked as a teacher of English and Translation in Primary Education, in the School of Modern Languages (University of Barcelona), where she co-directed the English Department, and at the University of Vic, where she was Head of the Translation Department. She has published widely on translation and language learning.