HOW TO: Be an autonomous learner

by Sheetal Makhan / AYC

According to Oxford Dictionaries, “autonomous” means “having the freedom to act independently.” or “to act in accordance to one’s moral duty rather that one’s desires.

When we talk about “Learn Autonomy“, what exactly are we referring to? As Murat (in Upper Intermediate) said, it’s a student “[who] takes responsibility for their own learning.” It is someone who does something for themselves without force.

At our “How To” Workshop last week Thursday, 28 November, we agreed that a student who is an autonomous learner, is someone who:

– is willing to take responsibility for their results
– knows their learning style
– is motivated to learn
– chooses the correct methods & tasks to help their learning process

Ideally, it means that the focus of learning moves from ‘teaching’ to ‘learning’. Remember the famous saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” As teachers, we merely provide the tools for student’s language acquisition. It is then the responsibility of you, the learner, to take charge and use these skills accordingly. For example, if you know that your writing could do with a bit more practice, why not visit the library and take out a book? This is guaranteed to help you, but it will only prove to be beneficial once you take the first step.

This is what Aiman Babalghoom had to say about his experience about this topic:

When I came to CT, two of my cousins were already here  and I spent all my time with them. Soon, I realized the REAL secret of learning English. For me, it was to stop spending time with my cousins, because – they only ever spoke Arabic with each other and with me. Then, I started meeting new people. What I benefitted from that is that I learned English faster than before , I got to meet new people and learn about other cultures and get a new experience of being in a new country.”

Take these two students, for example: Mohammed Al-Kurdi and Diaeldin Alflit from Libya. Following their teacher’s advice, they visited Ian in the Academic Office (5.9) who drew up individualized study plans for them. They were required to follow Ian’s recommendations of going to the Listening Center, Homework Room, Read books etc. They were then re-assessed and wallah..! The following week, they realized their success in their tests and moved up a level. Congratulations! You’ve proved once again that hard work pays off.

All smiles with their study plans!
All smiles with their study plans!

For Academic Year (AY) students, learner autonomy means:

-Visit the AY notice board
– Know who your AY tutor is
– Book an appointment with your tutor
– Honour the appoint and show up. If you can’t make it, excuse yourself with the tutor or Sheetal (5.9)
– Bring your AY Language Portfolio to your tutor meeting.
– Know when free classes are offered
– Attend lectures / How To workshops every Thursday
– …so much more!

Follow the link for more information about Academic Year English Courses in Cape Town.