Language Learner Autonomy Theory, Practice and Research Author: David Little, Leni Dam, Lienhard Legenhausen

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30 Sep 2017
Multilingual Matters
234 x 156


This is the first book on language learner autonomy to combine comprehensive accounts of classroom practice with empirical and case-study research and a wide-ranging engagement with applied linguistic and pedagogical theory. It provides a detailed description of an autonomy classroom in action, focusing on Danish mixed-ability learners of English at lower secondary level, and reports the findings of a longitudinal research project that explored the learning achievement over four years of one class in the same Danish school. It also presents two learner case studies to show that the autonomy classroom responds to the challenges of differentiation and inclusion, and two institutional case studies that illustrate the power of autonomous learning to support the social inclusion of adult refugees and the educational inclusion of immigrant children. The concluding chapter offers some reflections on teacher education for language learner autonomy. Each chapter ends with discussion points and suggestions for further reading.


This book connects theory and practice in a way that is rare in writing about language learner autonomy. Based on more than 25 years of research and practice, it is an invaluable source on strategies for autonomy in the language classroom. Chapters on autonomy and inclusion extend our understanding of strategies for teaching students with behavioural difficulties and new migrants.

- Phil Benson, Macquarie University, Australia

At last, we have a book-length synthesis of a longstanding and hugely influential body of work on language learner autonomy. Firmly grounded in accounts of actual classrooms and rich in illustrative detail and empirical evidence, the book integrates theory, practice, research, and teacher education in a clear, coherent and compelling manner.

- Ema Ushioda, University of Warwick, UK

A rich resource for language teachers, language teacher educators, and researchers! Detailed descriptions of successful autonomous learning techniques and materials (extremely useful for practitioners) are followed by insights into the theoretical framework and research basis of language learner autonomy. Practical examples for preparing teachers to create an autonomy classroom are especially welcome.

- Anna Uhl Chamot, The George Washington University, USA

Author Biography:

David Little is Associate Professor Emeritus and Fellow Emeritus at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. He has been a regular contributor to the Council of Europe’s language education projects since the 1980s. In 2010, the National University of Ireland awarded him an honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to language education in Ireland and further afield.

Leni Dam works as a freelance pedagogical advisor for pre- and in-service language teachers. She is a committee member of the Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group within IATEFL. In 2004, she received an honorary doctorate in pedagogy from Karlstad University, Sweden in recognition of her innovative work in language teaching.

Lienhard Legenhausen is Professor Emeritus, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster, Germany and Visiting Professor, National Bohdan Khmelnytsky University of Cherkasy, Ukraine. He is a committee member of IATEFL’s Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group.

Readership Level:

Postgraduate, Research / Professional

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