Enhancing Learner's Autonomy in the EFL Context. The Case of Secondary School Students in Algeria

Scientific Study, 2020

79 Pages


Table of contents




List of abbreviations

List of figures

List of tables

General Introduction

Chapter I – Literature review on learner autonomy in education
1 Introduction
2 What is autonomy?
3 Autonomy within the learning stages
4 Autonomy levels
5 Autonomy approaches
6 The autonomous teacher
7 The autonomous teacher characteristics
8 Autonomous learner prerequisites (conditions)
9 Autonomous learner characteristics
10 Teacher autonomy and learner autonomy
11 The autonomous classroom
12 The learner motivation and self-esteem
13 The autonomy dynamic model
14 The C.E.F.R for Languages assessment grid
15 Fostering Learner Autonomy
16 Language skills and attended competencies
17 Conclusion

Chapter II – The Algerian Educational System and approaches to En glish Language Teaching
1 Introduction
2 The Algerian Educational System
3 The English language teachings objectives
4 The English language teachings approaches
5 The Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach
6 The Cooperative Learning
7 The use of ICT in EFL
8 Conclusion

Chapter III - Data Collection, Interpretation, Findings and solution
1 Introduction
2 The teacher’s Questionnaire
3 Collected Data
4 Interpretation
5 Findings
6 Enhancing learner autonomy

General Conclusion




As the learner autonomy is a complex concept , this study aims to assess its level or state among the Algerian Secondary Learners. To do, a large investigation of learner autonomy and its related concepts is made and then a general overview on the Algerian Educational System and its main objectives on English Teaching and some other interesting methods such as Communicative Language Teaching and Cooperative Learning and the use of ICT are also seen as deeply as possible. Secondary School teachers responded to a specific questionnaire that surrounded the learner autonomy concept in the four main categories: teacher, learner, classroom and outside of classroom.

List of abbreviations

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List of figures

1 Learner autonomy context

2 Fitts and Posner 3-Stage Model

3 Learner autonomy approaches

4 Autonomy dynamic model

5 Teacher autonomy state

6 Learner autonomy state

7 Classroom autonomy state

8 Outside of classroom autonomy state

List of tables

1 Learner autonomy definition

2 Fitts & Posner Stages of Motor Skill Learning

3 Comparison between Autonomous and Non-autonomous Classrooms

4 English Textbooks in Algeria From 1968 to 2003

5 New English Textbooks

General Introduction

The complexity of the learner autonomy concept is well known and have many aspects.

Lizzie Pinard presented the whole aspect of learner autonomy in the global manner :

“The average language learner spends around 2-3 hours a week in the classroom, implying that for acquisition to take place, exposure to the target language shouldn’t be limited to classroom confines. Indeed, learner autonomy is somewhat of a buzzword in ELT - we recognize the inadequacy of classroom time with regards to acquisition, as well as the issue of syllabus structure often being at odds with learner ‘readiness’ to acquire, meaning that what learners do outside class time becomes of the utmost importance. However, there is often a gap between what we expect our learners to do outside the classroom and how we help them to do it. This project explores ways of helping learners harness the target language in their environment, real and/or virtual, effectively, and the role that learning materials, and their use in the classroom as well as beyond it, can play in scaffolding the process, in addition to stimulating and maintaining motivation, curiosity and the desire to acquire.”

She described the whole context as shown in the following figure (Fig.1).

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Fig. 1: Learner autonomy context (Pinard:2020).

General Introduction

Beyond this complex context, there are more factors affecting the learner autonomy such as:

- The learner motivation and self-esteem;
- The previous acquired competencies and skills;
- The classroom heterogeneity;
- The outside of classroom.

As many researchers are focusing on learner autonomy as an ultimate goal in teaching, the present aims to help out with a new approach guided by the following research questions and its sub-questions and our hypothesis.

-Research question, sub-questions and hypothesis

The main research question is put as follows:

How secondary school learners autonomy can be enhanced?

The response to that question can be gotten clearly when answering its sub-questions :

1-At what state the Secondary School learners autonomy is?
2-What are the solutions to enhance secondary school learners autonomy?

Our Main hypothesis to that issue is:

-Secondary school learners are not autonomous.

To conduct this research, the following methodology is adopted.

-Methodology of the research

There are nine types of research in Applied Linguistics which are: experimental, ethnography, case study, classroom observation, introspective, elicitation, interaction analysis, and program evaluation.

General Introduction

Choosing the research type is mainly based on the nature of the research itself.

Learner autonomy is a phenomenon that actually happens both inside and outside the class. A case study is selected because:

“A case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real- life context.” Nunan (1967:76).

Accordingly, there are three types of case study: case study according to the purpose of research, case study in terms of the number of cases, case study according to the units of analysis. In this research we are concerned with the first type which is case study according to the purpose of research.

The case study according to the purpose of research includes three sub-categories: descriptive, explanatory, and exploratory.

Firstly, the descriptive case study focuses on describing an object of phenomenon; it gives a wider attention to the characteristics of a certain issue, this is what is done in chapters I and II, entitled respectively: “Literature review on autonomy in education” , and, “The Algerian Educational System and approaches in teaching English”. Secondly, the explanatory case study studies the reasons behind a definite problem, more importantly, it explains why it happens.

Thirdly, the exploratory case study aims at studying a given problem, and also, undertaking a specific issue in order to look for ways through which the existing situation that can be improved, that is the practical part of this research, fully presented in chapter III entitled “Data Collection, Interpretation, Findings and Solution”.

Thus, the research is a descriptive exploratory case study. Its major concern is to focus on the concept of autonomy and the manner to enhance it.

-Scope of the research

This research is limited to learners of Secondary School first year and the assessment of autonomy is given to teachers because of their daily interaction with learners.


This chapter aims to clarify the concept of learner autonomy in almost of all its related aspects and beginning by the definition of that concept as seen by researchers in its conceptions and misconceptions.

Then learning stages as defined by Pitts and Posner are introduced for the first time in such like research in order to explore more learner autonomy levels as explained next to this model.

To “extend the idea of learner control over the planning and evaluation of learning to the curriculum as a whole” as Benson said, all known learner autonomy approaches as presented and are followed by concepts of autonomous teacher and its characteristics as the source of learning and seconded by the same concepts to the target of learning which is the learner itself and the classroom in which he receives education. This learner is also bound to its affective side such his proper motivation and self-esteem as regard to his needs to learn language.

The most recent autonomy model is the dynamic model of Maria Giovanna Tassinari which explains the ways to manage the own learning and thus very interesting for both teacher and learner. To help reaching that aim, the CEFR assessment grid is presented to determine competencies matter to be autonomous on.

Finally, and as the keywords: fostering, promoting and enhancing are closely used for each other, enhancing learner autonomy is presented in a detailed manner to make the research more clear by defining the learner’s language skills leading him to acquire the aimed language competencies and making him autonomous..

2-What is autonomy?

In the Holec’s seminal report (1981:3) autonomy was defined as ‘ the ability to take charge of one’s own learning ’.

Holec’s definition of learner autonomy has proved remarkably robust and remains the most widely cited definition in the field. Although Holec treated autonomy as an attribute of the learner, the term was also used to describe learning situations. ‘ Ability ’ is often replaced by ‘ capacity ’ (a term used by Holec elsewhere), while ‘t ake charge of ’ is often replaced by ‘ take responsibility for ’ or ‘ take control of ’ one’s own learning (terms also used by Holec).(Cited in Benson,2006)

In his book on self-instruction, Dickinson (1987: 11), for example, described autonomy as : ‘ the situation in which the learner is totally responsible for all of the decisions concerned with his learning and the implementation of those decisions ’.

The key element in definitions of this kind is the idea that autonomy is an attribute of learners, rather than learning situations. (Cited Benson,2006)

The strengthening of this view, based on the assumption that learners do not develop the ability to self-direct their learning simply by being placed in situations where they have no other option, is one of the more significant developments in the definition of learner autonomy over the past 30 years. (Benson,2006)

As Allwright (1988:35) put it, the idea of learner autonomy was for a long time ‘associated with a radical restructuring of language pedagogy’ that involved ‘the rejection of the traditional classroom and the introduction of wholly new ways of working’. For Allwright, however, autonomy needed to be re-conceptualized if it was to be applied to the classroom. Autonomy could be, for example, recognized in students’ unpredictable contributions to classroom activities that could temporarily throw the teacher’s plans off course. (Cited in Benson,2006)

This turn towards classroom applications led a second wave of interest in autonomy in the 1990s, with important theoretical implications. Indeed, the tendency has been towards a blurring of the distinction between ‘ classroom ’ and ‘ out-of-class ’ applications, leading to new and often complex understandings of the role of autonomy in language teaching and learning. (Benson,2006)

For Little (1991:4) and in his provisional definition of autonomy:

Essentially, autonomy is a capacity - for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making, and independent action. It presupposes, but also entails, that the learner will develop a particular kind of psychological relation to the process and content of his learning. The capacity for autonomy will be displayed both in the way the learner learns and in the way he or she transfers what has been learned to wider contexts”.

This definition emphasized the psychological attributes of autonomous learners and prioritized ‘ interdependence’ over ‘ independence’ in learning. And in a later paper on teacher autonomy, Little (1995) argued that learner autonomy did not imply any particular mode of practice, but was instead dependent upon the quality of the ‘ pedagogical dialogue ’ between teachers and learners.

In his book on learner training, Dickinson (1992) also argued that learners often acted ‘independently’, both cognitively and behaviorally, in the classroom. (Cited in Benson,2006)

For Dickinson (1993) , “Autonomy is a situation in which the learner is totally responsible for all the decisions concerned with his/her learning and the implementation of those decisions '’; (Cited in Balçikanli,2007)

Dam (1995) demonstrated how principles of autonomy could be integrated into secondary school classrooms without self-access or formal learner training.(Cited in Benson,2006).And gave the definition: “Autonomy is characterized by a readiness to take charge of one’s own learning in the service of one’s needs and purposes.”. (Cited in Balçikanli,2007).

Benson and Voller (1997) point out five ways the term autonomy is used for:

- situations in which learners study entirely on their own;
- a set of skills which can be learned and applied in self-directed learning;
- an inborn capacity which is suppressed by institutional education;
- the exercise of learners’ responsibility for their own learning;
- for the right of learners to determine the direction of their own learning. (Cited in Balçikanli,2007).

As (Borg & Al-Busaidi,2012), Sinclair (2000) suggests 13 aspects of learner autonomy which ‘appear to have been recognized and broadly accepted by the language teaching profession’ (see Table 1).

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Table 1 : Learner autonomy definition (Sinclair:2000)

Echoing Widdowson (1990), Little (1991), in an attempt to define learner autonomy, warns against five "misconceptions" that were current in concepts of learner autonomy in the 90s. They were the assumptions that :

(1) autonomous learners make the teacher redundant;
(2) any intervention on the part of the teacher may destroy whatever autonomy the learners have managed to attain;
(3) autonomy is a new methodology;
(4) autonomy represents easily described behavior; and, finally,
(5) autonomy is a steady state achieved by certain learners. To further concretize learner autonomy for educational purposes, Little (1997) defines learner autonomy in relation to particular tasks, highlighting that learner autonomy also consists in the ability to use particular knowledge and apply certain skills to new tasks, situated in contexts different from the learning context and under new conditions, which require a reconsideration of the task approach, the strategies to use, the product to aim for, etc . When learners have become flexible and adaptive learners in this sense, they can be considered autonomous learners, namely "( ... ) when they are able to perform that task (i) without assistance, (ii) beyond the immediate context in which they acquired the knowledge and skills and on which successful task performance depends, and (iii) flexiby, taking account of the special requirements of particular circumstances." (Little,1997:14).(Cited in Jiménez Raya:2007:16).

3-Autonomy in learning stages

Fitts and Posner (1967) proposed that motor skill acquisition (learning) involved three stages (https://www.coursehero.com/file/pjqrh9/cognitive-strategies-dominate-Improve-rapidly-however-beginners-generally-do/, By June the 6th,2020) :

3-1-Cognitive Stage (verbal-cognitive stage) : The beginner focuses on cognitive oriented problems.

-The task is completely new, Focus on solving cognitively-oriented problems -Many questions : What to do? (discover goal), When to do it? (discover timing),How to do it? (discover strategy).

-Many errors, rough estimation. The errors tend to be large ones, Verbal and cognitive strategies dominate, Improve rapidly however beginners generally do not know what they need to do to improve, When teaching relate to something that they know.

3-2-Associative Stage (motor stage)

-Associate cues from the environment with required movements required to achieve goal, Organize more efficient movement patterns, Strengthen motor program, Consistency gradually increases, Develop anticipation, Monitor own feedback, Last longer (weeks => months).

3-3-Autonomous Stage

Final stage, Performance of the skill becomes “automatic” (in terms of attention demands). People in this stage do not think about the movements ,Programming longer movement sequences, Allow to perform cognitive activities during performance of the skill. They can do another task at the same time, Detection of errors much better.

Although this model was designed for motor skills development it remains a major framework to understand a general learner behaviors enabling the detection, the correction, the assessment and the enhancement of any skill of whatsoever domain.

The following figure (Fig.2) shows clearly the relation between the stages related to this model.

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Fig. 2: Fitts and Posner 3-Stage Model

Source: https://vdocuments.mx/document/exos-certification-coaching-science-final-5-2014-athletesa-performance.html (by June the 6th,2020).

A simple application of this model to sports (motor skills) shows the accuracy of this model in evaluating skills (most right column of the following table 2).

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Table 2: Fitts & Posner Stages of Motor Skill Learning Source : https://www.psia-rm.org/download/resources/fall_training/PSIA-RM%20&%20Fitts%20&%20Posner%20Stages.pdf (By June the 6th,2020).

4-Autonomy levels

The whole information about this topic is taken from Benson (2006) as it is a full view.

In the late 1990s a number of writers sought to operationalize the notion that autonomy is a matter of degree. Nunan’s (1997: 195) attempt involved a model of five levels of ‘learner action’ – ‘awareness’, ‘involvement’, ‘intervention’, ‘creation’ and ‘transcendence’ – which could inform the sequencing of learner development activities in language textbooks.

These levels also involved dimensions of ‘content’ and ‘process’. At the awareness level, for example, learners would be ‘made aware of the pedagogical goals and content of the materials’, ‘identify strategy implications of pedagogical tasks’, and ‘identify their own preferred learning styles/strategies’. At the transcendence level, learners would ‘make links between the content of classroom learning and the world beyond’ and ‘become teachers and researchers’.

While Nunan’s model remained within the framework of language learning, Littlewood’s (1997: 81) three-stage model involved dimensions of language acquisition, learning approach and personal development. In the context of language acquisition, autonomy involved ‘an ability to operate independently with the language and use it to communicate personal meanings in real, unpredictable situations’ (autonomy as a communicator).

In the context of classroom organization, it involved learners’ ‘ability to take responsibility for their own learning and to apply active, personally relevant strategies’ (‘autonomy as a learner’). And in a broader context, it involved ‘a higher-level goal of . . . greater generalized autonomy as individuals’ (‘autonomy as a person’). At around the same time, Macaro (1997: 170–172) proposed a somewhat similar three-stage model involving ‘autonomy of language competence’, ‘autonomy of language learning competence’ and ‘autonomy of choice and action’. Scharle & Szab´o’s (2000: 1) resource book for the development of autonomy was also informed by a three phase model involving ‘raising awareness’, ‘changing attitudes’ and ‘transferring roles’.

Littlewood was also responsible for a widely cited distinction between ‘proactive’ autonomy,‘which affirms [learners’] individuality and sets up directions which they themselves have partially created’, and reactive autonomy, ‘which does not create its own directions but, once a direction has been initiated, enables learners to organize their resources autonomously in order to reach their goal’ (Littlewood 1999: 75).

My own attempt to model levels of learner autonomy involved dimensions of control over language learning and teaching processes grouped under three main headings – learning management, cognitive processing and the content of learning (Benson 2001).

Each of these models implies a possible progression from ‘lower’ to ‘higher’ levels of autonomy. They may also be related to the movement of the idea of autonomy into mainstream language education and a perceived need to identify spaces at the lower levels, where autonomy might be fostered without radical educational reforms. Nunan (1997: 201), for example, argued that his model illustrated how ‘autonomy can be a normal, everyday addition to regular instruction’.

How far one wants to go in encouraging autonomy, he suggested, ‘will be dictated by the contexts and environments in which the teaching and learning takes place’. Littlewood (1999:75) also argued that although for many writers ‘proactive autonomy is the only kind that counts’, reactive autonomy had its place either as a step towards proactive autonomy, or as a goal in its own right. One problem with such models, however, is their assumption that the relationship between the development of autonomy and language proficiency is unproblematic.

Kumaravadivelu (2003: 144) has argued, for example, that ‘it would be a mistake to try to correlate the initial, intermediary, and advanced stages of autonomy . . . with the beginning, intermediate, and advanced levels of language proficiency’, because the stages of autonomy depend more on the linguistic and communicative demands of particular tasks.

5-Autonomy approaches

A general overview of autonomy approaches is given in the following figure (Fig. 3: Learner autonomy approaches).

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Fig. 3: Learner autonomy approaches Source: Lizzie Pinard webpage –see Internet Sites

5-1-Curriculum-based approaches

These approaches “extend the idea of learner control over the planning and evaluation of learning to the curriculum as a whole” (Benson, 2001, p.111). They aim thus at promoting learners autonomy through involving them in decision-making processes at the level of the curriculum: negotiating the curriculum. In fact, the increasing interest in socio-cultural theory over the past decade has yielded into acknowledging both the individual and social interaction in developing learner autonomy. Distinction has been made between individual and social autonomy. In Vygotskian terms social autonomy emphasizes that developing a capacity for reflection and analysis which is crucial to learner autonomy “depends on the development and internalization of a capacity to participate fully and critically in social interactions” (cited in Little, 1996, p.211).(Djoub,2017:114).

In this respect, Cotterall (2000) refers to the principles which the curriculum should follow to promote learner autonomy (Djoub,2017:115) :

1. The course reflects learners ’ goal in its language, tasks, and strategies.
2. Course tasks are explicitly linked to simplified model of the language learning process.
3. Course either replicates the real world communicative tasks or provides rehearsal for such tasks.
4. The course incorporates discussion and practice with strategies known to facilitate task performance.
5. The course promotes reflection on learning (learners being aware of their own learning).

5-2-Technology-based approaches

Learner autonomy depends on the way technology-based approaches are implemented in the language classroom or as Benson (2001) says “a great deal depends on the ways in which technologies are made available to the learners and the kinds of interaction that take place around them”(p.140).Thus, these approaches need to be properly used by teachers and learners as well; with suitable activities which meet learners’ needs and styles and encourage them to make decision about their learning objectives, to reflect and communicate their ideas through their use. (Djoub,2017:118).

Therefore, technical preparation into their use is required for all participants, so that learners can get benefit from the technical potential these tools provide. Moreover, continuous teacher’s support needs also to be available to help learners use digital resources effectively and sustain their interest and motivation into their use, thereby creating a learning environment which is likely to induce positive perceptions towards using technologies in language learning. It follows from this, that teacher’s role cannot be denied in autonomous language learning. For this reason, teacher-based approaches have been advocated.(Djoub,2017:118).

5-3-Teacher-based approaches

These approaches “emphasize the role of the teacher and teacher education in the practice of fostering autonomy among learners” (Benson, 2001, p. 111). In effect, within these approaches,learners have control over their learning while the teachers’ role changes into counselors. Being autonomous teachers who are reflecting continuously on their practices are also required within these approaches to develop students’autonomy.(Djoub,2017:118).

Furthermore, in addition to raising learners’ awareness of their own responsibility and helping them develop the strategies and use tasks and materials which they need for their autonomy, Sturtridge (1992) refers to assessing learners’ progress and supporting their monitoring which is among the counseling tasks he puts forward as follows:

- Helping learners to recognize their own responsibility for their own learning
- Helping learners to know their individual language level on entry
- Helping learners to decide upon their own individual objectives
- Helping learners to recognize their own individual strategies and to make suggestions
- Directing learners to particular materials or activities
- helping learners to become aware of what particular exercises are really teaching them
- Making suggestions about more efficient ways of practice or monitoring
- Making ratings of progress and comparing them with the learners’ own ratings. (Djoub:2017:119).

5-4-Learner-based Approaches

These approaches which are also called learner development, aim at observing the production of behavioral and psychological changes that will enable learners to take greater control over their learning (Benson, 2001). They have come from educational trends of self-directed language learning (SDLL) and learner strategies in language learning (LSLL) in Europe and North America (Wenden, 2002). Within these approaches emphasis has been put on teaching language learning strategies and training learners into their use. Besides, considering affective factors related to learning has been seen as a goal to achieve learner development towards autonomy.(Djoub,2017:126).

These learning strategies have been defined as “behaviours or actions which learners use to make language learning more successful, self-directed and enjoyable” (Oxford, 1989, cited in Ellis, 2008, p. 704). Indeed, Oxford (2001) indicates that the effective use of these strategies can facilitate learning and help learners become autonomous since they are related to features of control, goal-oriented, autonomy and self-efficacy. Likewise, Boekaerts (1997) considers them as crucial not only to guide the learner’s own learning during the formal education, but also to educate the learner in order to update his or her knowledge after leaving the school.(Djoub,2017:126).

The two most cited taxonomies are those of O’Malley and Chamot (1990) and Oxford (1990). The first taxonomy makes a distinction between:

- Cognitive Strategies: These strategies involve thought processes which learners use to deal with tasks and materials such as memorization, guessing the meaning of words, etc.
- Meta-cognitive Strategies: in which learners attempt to regulate their learning through planning, self-monitoring, evaluating and thinking about how to make this process effective.
- The Socio-affective Strategies: help learners to interact with other speakers of the target language, to collaborate on tasks and ask for correction. These strategies aim to enhance self-confidence, motivation and lowering anxiety.

Oxford’s (1990) taxonomy is hierarchical, categorizing strategies into direct and indirect. The former “require mental processing of the language”, whereas the latter “provide indirect support for language learning through focusing, planning, evaluating, seeking opportunities, controlling anxiety, increasing cooperation and empathy and other means” .(Djoub,2017:127).

5-5-Resources-based approach

This approach is mainly based on creating opportunities for learners to be responsible for their learning.


Aims at giving opportunities for learners to make decisions about their learning process , and so reinforcing their autonomy in learning.

6-The autonomous teacher

As KADI (2018:11-13) , the notion of teacher autonomy traced back to the beginning of the 1990’s, when it was mentioned by Allwright (1990). Some years later, Little (1995) defined this concept as the “Teachers’ capacity to engage in self-directed teaching. ’’ (Little, 1995:176), and in the same context, he adds:

Genuinely successful teachers have always been autonomous in the sense of having a strong sense of personal responsibility for their teaching, exercising via continuous reflection and analysis the highest degree of affective and cognitive control of the teaching process, and exploring the freedom that this confers.” (Little, 1995:179)

After that, scholars have been trying to define teacher autonomy from different aspects. Benson argues that teacher autonomy can be seen as: “A right to freedom from control (or an ability to exercise this right) as well as actual freedom from control.” (Benson, 2000:111).

As to Aoki (2002), he argues that teacher’s autonomy is mainly based on independency and responsibility for one’s own teaching unlike learner’s autonomy which emphasizes on self-reliance and responsibility for one’s own learning, Besides, he offers an explicit definition of teacher autonomy, suggesting that this involves “the capacity, freedom, and responsibility to make choices concerning one’s own teaching.’’(Aoki, 2000:19)

According to Richard Smith, teacher autonomy refers to “The ability to develop appropriate skills, knowledge and attitudes for oneself as a teacher, in cooperation with others.’’ (Smith, 2000:89). In addition, Smith (2001) identifies three different dimensions of teacher autonomy. Teacher autonomy, first of all, is a capacity for self-directed professional action. Second, it is a capacity for self-directed professional development. Third, teacher autonomy is freedom from control by others in the professional action and development. However, Thavenius (1999) provides a different definition about teacher autonomy; he writes that an autonomous teacher is one who promotes learner autonomy:

Teacher autonomy can be defined as the teacher’s ability and willingness to help learners take responsibility for their own learning. An autonomous teacher is thus a teacher who reflects on her teacher role and who can change it, who can help her learners become autonomous, and who is independent enough to let her learners become independent.” (Thavenius, 1999:160)

Lamb (2008), on the other hand, suggests that the capacity teachers have in determining the improvement of their teaching through their own effort and through research and reflective thinking shows one facet of teacher autonomy. He goes on to indicate that the freedom to be able to teach in the way that one desires is also a manifestation of autonomy.

According to Tort-Moloney, in order to develop teacher autonomy, teachers must: “become autonomous regarding curricular demands, pedagogical material and discourses, as well as in research, by being able to acknowledge the virtues and limitations of these areas.’’(Tort- Moloney, 1997:50)

Another definition about teacher autonomy is provided by De Vries and Kohlberg who give a picture of what an autonomous teacher looks like.

…the autonomous teacher can think about how children are thinking and at the same time think about how to intervene to promote the constructive culture. Autonomous teachers do not just accept uncritically what curriculum specialists give them. They think about whether they agree with what is suggested. They take responsibility for the education they are offering children.”

(De Vries and Kohlberg 1987:380)

In short, all of these definitions reveal that teacher autonomy is a kind of freedom through which teachers are able to practice their duty independently. As a result, they can carry out their teaching process in an autonomous way which suits them and meets the learning needs of their students.

7-The autonomous teacher characteristics

As KADI (2018:14-15), after the widespread of learner autonomy in the educational field in general and in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) in particular, the term teacher autonomy as a new concept has been given more attention and become the chief concern of many researchers who have been analyzing it from different dimensions. Smith (2001) illustrates the characteristics of teacher autonomy and summarizes them in six very comprehensive features as follows:

-Self-directed professional action.
-Capacity for self-directed professional action.
-Freedom from control over professional action.
-Self-directed professional development.
-Capacity for self-directed professional development.
-Freedom from control over professional development.(Smith 2001:5).

However, Little (1995) confirms that the use of the term “teacher autonomy” may have different dimensions, as it is mentioned in the following examples:

1-Self-directed professional action: teachers feel more autonomous when they take charge of their teaching process in a personal way and practice it through reflection, analysis and cognitive control of the teaching process. (Little, 1995)
2-Self-directed professional development: the autonomous teacher should be aware of why, when, where and how pedagogical skills can be acquired in the self-conscious awareness of teaching practice itself. (Little, 1995)
3-Freedom from control by others over professional action: In other words, teachers are free from any external control, and this is one of the main features of the term ‘teacher autonomy’ in the general educational literature. However, this autonomy cannot be absolute; teachers can choose their teaching techniques or methods, but they have no choice in the content or the curriculum since they are imposed on them.

In the same regard, McGrath (2000) sees that the characteristics of teacher autonomy can be illustrated from only two dimensions, “as self-directed action or development; as freedom from control by others.” (McGrath, 2000:100-110). First, teachers can be autonomous in the sense of having the capacity to control their own development and behave independently in a self-directed manner. Second, autonomous teachers are free from any kind of constraints; they control their teaching process by themselves without accepting the others’ decisions or interference.

8-Autonomous learner prerequisites (conditions)

Autonomous learning is achieved when certain conditions obtain: cognitive and metacognitive strategies on the part of the learner, motivation, attitudes, and knowledge about language learning, i.e., a kind of meta-language.

To acknowledge, however, that learners have to follow certain paths to attain autonomy is tantamount to asserting that there has to be a teacher on whom it will be incumbent to show the way. In other words, autonomous learning is by no means "teacherless learning." As Sheerin (1997, cited in Benson & Voller, 1997: 63) succinctly puts it, '[t]eachers--have a crucial role to play in launching learners into self-access and in lending them a regular helping hand to stay afloat'. Thanasoulas (2000).

9-Autonomous learner characteristics

As KADI(2018:10-11), Holec defines the autonomous learner; in his famous book Autonomy and Foreign language Learning, as:

“To say of a learner that he is autonomous is to say that he is capable of taking charge of his own learning and nothing more… to take charge of one’s learning is to bear responsibility for all the decisions concerning all aspects of this learning.” (Holec, 1981:3)

In the same context, Holec (1988) mentions that:

“…the autonomous learner is not automatically obliged to self-direct his learning either totally or even partially. The learner will make use of his ability to do this only if he so wishes and if he is permitted to do so by the material, social and psychological constraints to which he is subjected.” (Holec, 1988:8)

However, Little has a different point of view about autonomous learners he says that:

“Autonomous learners can understand the purpose of their learning program, unequivocally recognize the conscientiousness for their learning; divide the set of learning objectives, take initiatives in planning and implementing learning activities, and regularly review their learning and evaluate its effectiveness.” (Little, 1991:11)

Moreover, Kumaravadivelu is for Little’s definition and argues that: “supporting learners to be autonomous means providing them with more opportunities to be successful.” (Kumaravadivelu, 2003:131).

Whereas for Nunan, he sees that: “Learners who have reached a point where they are able to define their own goals and create their own learning opportunities have, by definition, become autonomous. (Nunan, 1995:145). Arguing that autonomous learner is the one who is able to find the best strategy to learn and to be successful. For Huttunen:“A learner is fully autonomous when he is working individually or in a group, taking responsibility for the planning, monitoring and evaluating of his studies.” (Huttunen, 1986:95). In the same context, Candy (1991) views that autonomous learners have some competencies. These competencies make them characterized by particular features such as; methodical, logical, reflective, flexible, self-aware, creative, responsible, self-sufficient, etc.

On the other hand, Benson suggests that:

“Autonomous learners are more educated individuals who have the ability to take the charge and contribute not only to their learning process, but also in their social life.” (Benson, 2001: 01).

However, Thanasoulas (2000) defines the autonomous learner like somebody whose life has a consistency that drives from a coherent set of beliefs, values and principles and also who engages in a still-continuing process of criticism and reevaluation. Therefore, autonomous learners do not confine themselves only to instructions, methods, or materials given by teachers inside classroom; instead, they take the charge and promote their learning process by themselves. They choose the appropriate tools and materials and decide whether it is effective for their learning or not.

10-Teacher autonomy and learner autonomy

As KADI (2018:15-16),with the increasing interest of learner autonomy in recent years, the term of teacher autonomy has been introduced as a new concept in the pedagogical field. Hence, there has been a comprehensive discussion about the interrelationship between learner autonomy and teacher autonomy. In this regard, Little points out to this relation when he states that:

… The development of leaner autonomy depends on the development of teacher autonomy. By this I mean two things (i) that it is unreasonable to expect teachers to foster the growth of autonomy in their learners if they themselves do not know what it is to be an autonomous learner; and (ii) that in determining the initiatives they take in the classrooms, teachers must be able to exploit their professional skills autonomously.” (Little 2000:45).

That is to say, teachers need to experience autonomy as learners first, because most of them do not know what learner autonomy is since they have never had the opportunity to learn autonomously. Therefore, it is not easy for them to accept this notion and adopt it as a teaching and learning approach in their classrooms.

However, Smith explains explicitly the relationship between learner autonomy and teacher autonomy.

“Teachers also need to constantly reflect on their own role in the classroom, monitoring the extent to which they constrain or scaffold students’ thinking and behavior, so as to engage students in autonomous and effective learning.” (Smith, 2001:43-4)

On this basis, many scholars focus on both the importance of developing teacher autonomy through adopting a reflective teaching and on the interrelationship between teacher and learner roles in enhancing learner autonomy. However, Thavenius has a different point of view concerning the relationship between teacher autonomy and learner autonomy. According to him:

“Teacher autonomy and learner autonomy happen simultaneously and reinforce each other because in order to promote learner autonomy, it is necessary for teachers to work autonomously with learners’ learning processes.”

(Thavenius, 1999:160)

Similarly, Benson (2001) confirms that there is a strong connection between learner autonomy and teacher autonomy; if teachers themselves cannot experience a sense of autonomy or their own autonomy is restricted by several factors and boundaries, they will never be ready to promote their learners’ autonomy.

Learner autonomy and teacher autonomy are interrelated, interactive and strongly connected. Therefore, it is of great necessity to comprehend and respect the relation between them; both teachers and learners have to understand their autonomy in order to help each other in fostering it and improving the teaching/ learning process.

11-The autonomous classroom

As KADI (2018:16-17), autonomous classroom refers to a learning centered environment in which both teachers and learners feel comfortable and interact with each other constructively within a learning community. According to Leni Dam (2000), there are some essential conditions should be taken into consideration in order to build an autonomous classroom:

-A willingness on the part of the teacher to let go, and on the part of the learners to take hold.
-An understanding of what to do and why and how it should be done, this applies to teachers as well as learners.
-An experience-based insight into the learning process for both teachers and learners.
-An atmosphere of security, trust and respect. (Dam, 2000)

In the same regard, Nunan (1996) argues that the teachers’ and learners’ roles, in the classroom, have been changed. As Marguerite Fitch put it at the annual conference of the American Educational Research Association in New Orleans in April 1994, “The teacher’s role changes from the ‘Sage on the Stage’ to the Guide on the Side.”(Tella, 1996:6). Thus, he suggests some roles which may help both teachers and learners in creating an autonomous learning environment through comparing between autonomous and non-autonomous classrooms in this table:

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Table 3: Comparison between Autonomous and Non-autonomous Classrooms. (Nunan, 1996:21)

12-The learner motivation and self-esteem

Language learning is not merely a cognitive task. Learners do not only reflect on their learning in terms of the language input to which they are exposed, or the optimal strategies they need in order to achieve the goals they set. Rather, the success of a learning activity is, to some extent, contingent upon learners' stance towards the world and the learning activity in particular, their sense of self, and their desire to learn. (Thanasoulas,2000)

12-1-Learner motivation

Although the term 'motivation' is frequently used in educational contexts, there is little agreement among experts as to its exact meaning. What most scholars seem to agree on, though, is that motivation is 'one of the key factors that influence the rate and success of second or foreign language (L2) learning. Motivation provides the primary impetus to initiate learning the L2 and later the driving force to sustain the long and often tedious learning process' (Dornyei, 1998: 117). According to Gardner and MacIntyre (1993: 3), motivation is comprised of three components: 'desire to achieve a goal, effort extended in this direction, and satisfaction with the task'. (Thanasoulas,2000)

12-2-Learner self-esteem

Closely related to attitudes and motivation is the concept of self-esteem, that is, the evaluation the learner makes of herself with regard to the target language or learning in general. '[S]elf-esteem is a personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in the attitudes that the individual holds towards himself'. Conversely, a lack of self-esteem is likely to lead to negative attitudes towards his capability as a learner, and to 'a deterioration in cognitive performance', thus confirming his view of himself as incapable of learning. (Thanasoulas,2000)

13-The autonomy dynamic model

Maria Giovanna Tassinari, director of the Centre for Independent Language Learning (CILL) at the Freie Universität Berlin and advisor, reached the autonomy dynamic model that she describes as follows :

“Every autonomous learning process should entail an evaluation of the learner’s competencies for autonomy. The dynamic model of learner autonomy described in this paper is a tool designed in order to support the self-assessment and evaluation of learning competencies and to help both learners and advisors to focus on relevant aspects of the learning process. The dynamic model accounts for cognitive, metacognitive, action-oriented and affective components of learner autonomy and provides descriptors of learners’ attitudes, competencies and behaviors. It is dynamic in order to allow learners to focus on their own needs and goals.” (Tassinari,2012:24)

The dynamic model she makes is shown in the following figure Fig. 4.

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Fig. 4: Autonomy dynamic model (Tassinari,2012:29).

14-The C.E.F.R for Languages assessment grid

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international standard for describing language ability. It describes language ability on a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners, up to C2 for those who have mastered a language. This makes it easy for anyone involved in language teaching and testing, such as teachers or learners, to see the level of different qualifications.

These levels are often used casually by language learners to test their ability at speaking, reading, writing and understanding a language. The CEFR assessment grid is enclosed as Appendix 1.

15-Fostering Learner Autonomy

With the increasing interest in foreign and second language learning, fostering learner autonomy as an important educational goal becomes the chief concern of many educators and language teachers. Therefore, a significant body of research has been conducted in the aim of fostering learner autonomy and finding the effective ways which help learners learn autonomously. KADI (2018:26-36)

15-1-Definition of fostering learner autonomy

According to Dam (2011), fostering learner autonomy is “a move from teacher-directed teaching environment to a learner-directed learning environment.’’(Dam, 2011: 41) . However, another definition was given by Esch who describes the promotion of learner autonomy as:

“… the provision of circumstances and contexts for language learners which will make it more likely that take charge -at least temporarily- of the whole or part of their language learning programme and which are more likely to help rather than prevent learners from exercising their autonomy.’’ (Esch, 2010: 37 )

In simple terms, fostering learner autonomy is regarded as an attempt to help learners become more independent through training them on the effective use of the language learning strategies which make them responsible to take control, evaluate and monitor their language learning process.

15-2-Tips to foster learner autonomy

Once the term “Learner Autonomy” has been emerged in the educational context, numerous scholars and researchers have produced literature on its definition, implementation and, especially, on the tips that help learners enhance their autonomy and take charge of their learning process. At a practical level, the development of autonomy requires learners to build up a skill set that allows them to direct their own learning. Most learners do not naturally have this skill set and need explicit training to develop it. In this context, Hurd argues that:

“…if learners are not trained for autonomy, no amount of surrounding them with resources will foster in them that capacity for active involvement and conscious choice, although it might appear to do so.” (Hurd, 1998: 72-73)

In addition, Gardner and Miller (1999) state that fostering learner autonomy is sometimes carried out through “learning training” which allows learners to come into contact with the idea of autonomy and to develop appropriate skills in the learning process. However, Crabbe notes, “One important aspect in promoting learner autonomy is to negotiate with students the process that underline learning, such as problem identification, so that they become aware of their own needs and can set their own goals. (Crabbe 1993:446)

For Dickinson, the teacher plays a key role in fostering learner autonomy and has a major impact on students’ development towards autonomy. He identifies six ways “in which the teacher can promote greater learner independence”:

- Legitimizing independence in learning by showing that we, as teachers, approve, and by encouraging the students to be more independent;
- Convincing learners that they are capable of greater independence in learning-give them successful experiences of independent learning;
- Helping learners to develop learning strategies so that they can exercise their independence;
- Helping learners to become more aware of language as a system so that they can understand many of the learning techniques available and learn sufficient grammar to understand simple reference books;
- Sharing with learners something of what we know about language learning so that they have a greater awareness of what to expect from the language learning task and how they should react to problems that erect barriers to learning.( Dickinson 1992:330)

In the same regard, Littlewood (1996) focuses on the teacher’s role in promoting learner autonomy. According to him:

“… a teacher might, for example, concentrate on building up the learner’s confidence in communication or on knowledge involved in learning and, more specifically, learning strategies.”

(Littlewood, 1996:431-434)

Whereas Dam (2011) claims that the teacher’s role in the enhancement of learner autonomy is “To make students both willing and capable to make over the responsibility of learning, i.e. planning, carrying out the plans, and evaluating the outcome.” . (Dam 2011:41) However, Little (1995) sees that teachers need to be aware of their responsibilities in order to be successful in implementing and reinforcing learner autonomy. This requires the teachers’ willingness to change, and negotiate with their students in the classroom. In addition, he puts emphasis on the teachers’ new roles to enhance autonomous learning:

“I believe that all truly effective learning entails the growth of autonomy in the learner as regards both the process and the content of learning; but I also believe that for most learners the growth of autonomy requires stimulus, insight and guidance of a good teacher.” (Little, 2000:18)

Besides, Little suggests three basic pedagogical norms to foster learner autonomy especially in language classrooms:

- Learner involvement : is to make learners engaged in the learning process through sharing responsibility (affective and metacognitive dimensions);
- Learner reflection : helping learners to reflect on the process of planning, monitoring and assessing their learning (metacognitive dimension);
- Appropriate target language use : the target language can be used as a fundamental instrument for language learning (communicative and metacognitive dimensions).

According to Kohonen, “once they feel that they are appreciated and their abilities trusted, they can gain a feeling of ownership and responsibility of their own learning.” (Kohonen, 1992:32). In other words, learners need to be encouraged and stimulated by their teacher who should trust their capacities in order to give them a sense of self-confidence which contributes effectively in raising their autonomy.

Moreover, Lewis and Reinders (2008) agree about some practical tips which help teachers in promoting learner autonomy in language classroom. Firstly, they see that language teachers should support the collaborative learning through encouraging pair and group works, and making their learners aware of the importance of such learning in improving their language level and developing their learning skills. Secondly, teachers should offer more opportunities for their learners to let them assess their language learning by themselves through working independently, but under the teacher’s guidance and help. Thirdly, teachers have to provide their learners with the reflective tools for self-assessment such as; diaries and portfolios which make them reflect on their learning, and thus become more interested in. However, Kumaravadivelu (2003) states that there are certain tips by which learners can develop their independence and enhance their autonomy in formal language learning. These tips can be summarized in the following points:

- Think in a critical way, act independently and make decision concerning the learning process;
- Look for more knowledge about the learning process;
- Be responsible for learning and choose the appropriate strategies in order to attain the learning objectives;
- Develop self-control and self-discipline ,which lead to self-esteem and self-confidence ;
- Be more independent of the teacher and the educational system;
- Interact with one’s self, the teacher, the task, and the educational environment. (Kumaradivelu, 2003:133)

15-3-Principles to Foster Learner Autonomy

In fact, most learners already possess some abilities which allow them to enhance their autonomy to certain degree. In this regard, Thomson (1996) sees that through these abilities, autonomy can be developed and fostered. Similarly, Benson agrees with this view and puts a set of principles:

- Learners routinely initiate and manage their own learning both outside and within the context of formal instruction.
- Learners receiving formal instruction tend rather to follow their own learning agendas rather than those of their teachers.
- Learners tend to exercise control over psychological factors influencing their learning, especially those concerned with motivation, affective state and beliefs or preferences. (Benson, 2001:60)

According to Dam (2011), there are some necessary principles which should be taken into account in the development of learner autonomy. Firstly, the notion of choice is very important. Dam sees that giving learners the opportunity to choose is a motivational strategy which enhances their reflection and develops their awareness of learning, besides, it shifts responsibility towards the learner and improves his self-esteem. Secondly, in order to be ready to take charge and responsibility of their own learning, learners need to feel more secure and safe; hence, clear guidelines and rules need to be established. Thirdly, instead of transferring knowledge to his learners, the teacher’s key role is to make them actively involved in the learning process. The fourth principle, according to Dam, is the authenticity, that is to say; both teachers and learners should be themselves; they behave naturally and play the roles which suit them in the institutional learning environment. In the last principle, Dam makes emphasis on the importance of assessment in enhancing learner autonomy. He views that self-reflection and evaluation make learners aware of their learning level and so they become more motivated to improve it. However, Cotterall (2000) claims that the shift of decision-making about learning from the teacher to learners is considered as the most difficult challenge in fostering autonomy. Additionally, he suggests five principles that help learners reinforce their control over learning and improve their language proficiency. Firstly, in order to be supportive for learner autonomy, the language course should reflect learners’ goals, tasks and strategies. The second principle is to make a link between the course tasks and the language learning process. Thirdly, these tasks should be repeated or performed as drilling activities. The next principle focuses on the use of different learning strategies. Lastly, Cotterall views that curriculum-based approach is helpful in promoting learner autonomy.

15-4-Reasons for fostering learner autonomy

For many teachers, autonomy becomes a desirable goal especially in language classroom because it proves its efficacy that has contributed positively to language learning. Dickinson (1994) says that:

“we see the achievement of independence in learning as desirable, allowing the student to pursue his own learning objectives in ways and at times which most suit him, and so we adopt the additional teaching objective to teach the student how to learn.”

(Dickinson, 1994:.2)

Another interesting reason for promoting learner autonomy is added by Dickinson (1987). She adds:

“...there is convincing evidence that people who take the initiative in learning (proactive learners) learn more things and learn better than do people who sit at the feet of teachers, passively waiting to be taught (reactive learners)...they enter into learning more purposefully and with greater motivation.” (Dickinson, 1987:14)

In other words, learners involved in the learning process are highly motivated. This makes them willing to learn and qualified for being successful language learners. Whereas Candy mentions that :

“When learners are involved in making choices and decisions about the content and the mode of what they are studying, learning is more meaningful, and thus, effective.”. (Candy, 1991:24)

However, Dafei (2007) confirms in his study that there is a strong connection between learner autonomy and English proficiency. As he states: “The results of the study indicate that the students’ English proficiency was significantly and positively related to their learner autonomy.’ (Dafei, 2007:1) . Furthermore, this connection is affirmed by Little who says:

“Precisely because autonomous learners are motivated and reflective learners, their learning is efficient and effective (conversely, all learning is likely to succeed to the extent that the learner is autonomous). And the efficiency and effectiveness of the autonomous learner means that the knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom can be applied to situations that arise outside the classroom.”. (Little, 2006:2)

In fact, there are many reasons behind introducing the notion of learner autonomy in language learning; psychological, social and practical. First, most psychologists and educationalists agree that excellent learners are necessarily motivated and independent individuals who are in charge of their own learning. As Little (2006) defines autonomy as “a basic human need. It is nourished by, and in turn nourishes, our intrinsic motivation, our proactive interest in the world around us.” (Little 2006:2). Second, when taking the social factors into account, autonomy is an essential aspect of a democratic society which requires autonomous citizens able to make decisions and choices regarding their everyday life. In this context, Knowles (1975) asserts that when individuals are free to choose for themselves, their societies will be healthier and happier. Thus, it is important to prepare learners for autonomy from an early age since the conception of the individual in the society is no longer that of man as a product of his society “but that of man as the producer of his society.” (Jane, 1977: 15) . Third, autonomy allows learners to get the chance to be involved, and thus they can practice the acquired knowledge outside school and apply it in real life situations.

15-5-Benefits of Promoting Learner Autonomy in EFL Classroom

Autonomy in learning is considered as an undeniable factor in enhancing individuals’ learning abilities which make learners more competent and skillful to be in charge o their learning process, achieve their goals and solve their learning problems. Hence, the primary purpose of autonomy is to prepare students to take an activate role in order to gain the appropriate skills and attitudes they need in both academic and social participation.

Recently, in the field of second and foreign language, there has been a new change which shifts learning from teachers to learners, in focus from how to improve the teaching situation to how individual learners go through their learning. Hence, learner autonomy is very important idea in EFL class whether at the level of theory or empirically where both teachers and learners have the opportunity to be involved in the process of learning and teaching.

According to Little (2003), learning is seen as a spiral process where new levels of autonomy are acquired as the learners move through new phases of independence. The importance of learner autonomy is being on developing positive relation between the present and future learning targets. In addition to that, autonomy helps learners to be better language learners due to their intrinsic motivation and their reflective engagement with the learning process. Thus they are being a lifelong (continuing) learning of constantly developing awareness. In addition, Little (2004) demonstrates three beliefs that elucidate learner autonomy in the EFL classroom. Firstly, the learner is in total control of his or her own learning. Secondly, the capacity of the individual learner to work alone develops learning language skills in collaboration with the rest of the peers. Thirdly, both language learning and language use are maximized throughout the process. Whereas, Dam (1995) sees that promoting learner autonomy is a demanding task, according to him:

“Developing learner autonomy is a long, difficult and often painful process, not least for the teacher. It demands constant effort on the part of teacher and learners; not only as individuals but in collaboration with one another… it is an experience-based learning process for teachers and learners alike.” (Dam, 1995:6)

16-Language skills and attended competencies

The Language skills are classed in three main components as the C.E.F.of Reference for language teaching , learning and assessment , that are :

- Understanding , which comprises listening and reading;
- Speaking, which comprises spoken interaction and spoken production;
- Writing.

These main skills cannot be reached if they are not supported by the language pillars:

- Grammar: the learners trained in discovering the rules of English.
- Phonetics: improving the pronunciation and intonation.
- Vocabulary: increasing the learners stock of lexical words.

When fully acquired they become competencies. Thus, in the same context, Candy (1991) views that autonomous learners have some competencies. These competencies make them characterized by particular features such as; methodical, logical, reflective, flexible, self-aware, creative, responsible, self-sufficient, etc.(Kadi,2018).


To conclude, implementing the notion of learner autonomy and making it a true reality in our schools in not an easy task to be achieved. However, its enhancing seems to be the cornerstone of successful learning in which both teachers and learners have the opportunity to be involved.


This chapter describes the Algerian Educational System structure and highlights its various objectives. Generally, ELT has many objectives; they are of social, political, economic and cultural order. Socially, ELT aims at supplying learners with all the magnitudes which make them social beings who take part in the making of the world around them. This can be done through taking charge of their learning process, sharing and collaborating with each other and making decisions and choices regarding their learning. Politically, ELT makes learners more engaged in open conversations and communicative situations where they develop a democratic freedom of interaction and negotiation with others. At the economic level, English serves as the language of today’s world markets and its functional use in economics makes it a means of common understanding between nations around the globe. Moreover, ELT plays a key role in keeping learners in touch with the English culture and even with other cultures of different countries.

Beyond its objectives, the Algerian Educational System had adopted some teaching approaches. The competency-based approach is predominant in the Algerian Educational System in order to attain a level that makes learners rely on themselves and compete with other people around the world either in the field of work or in other situations. However, this alternative approach is actually applied in middle education, and also had adopted the communicative approach that has always been controversial in Algerian educational institutions in the sense that it challenges the traditional conceptions of good teaching and learning, i.e., fluency at the expense of accuracy.

2-The Algerian Educational System

During the French colonization, Algeria had no schools or institutions to provide education for its people; therefore, only a small minority received this education, and since there were a great number of French children among this minority, they were forced to learn European languages, especially French and English. Algeria gained its independence in 1962, and thus a radical change occurred in many fields. However, education was still oriented towards a particular elite till 1963 when the Ministry of Education was founded. As a result, many schools and institutions were established to make education free to all the Algerian kids. Since then, the Ministry of Education in Algeria has changed its policy towards learning and teaching foreign languages to ensure their success. The actual school system in Algeria is made up of twelve years divided into three main cycles: primary education, middle education and secondary education.

2-1-Primary Education

At the age of six, Algerian children are obliged to go to school to receive their primary education for free. They are taught in their native language Arabic and French as the only foreign language introduced at this level from the third year. After studying five years, pupils take the Sixth Grade Exam which is a national final examination through which they can move to the Middle Cycle.

2-2-Middle Education

During this cycle, learners spend four years and study different subjects taught by several teachers. From their first year, pupils start learning English as the second foreign language after French. At the end of the fourth year, they have to pass the “Brevet d’Enseignement Moyen” (BEM), which refers to the national basic education certificate examination, in order to move to high school.

2-3-Secondary Education

In the secondary cycle, students can choose the stream which suits them, but according to their grades in the BEM exam. In the first year, there are three main streams: languages and social studies, sciences and technology. In the second year, other streams are offered such a; Philosophy and Literature, Literature and Foreign Languages, Sciences, Mathematics, Economy and Management, Civil Technology, Chemistry, etc. However, the second choice of the stream is based on three criteria; students’ personal preference, their teachers’ opinions and their first year results. At the end of the third year, students take a national exam called “Baccalaureate” in which they are tested in all the subjects studied in the third year. To pass this examination, students have to score an average of more than 10 on a 20 point scale.

3-The English language teaching objectives

During the period of colonization, the French language was strongly implemented as the official and first language in Algeria, whereas English was introduced in the first year of the intermediate cycle as a first foreign language which the learners meet only in the classroom. Some years after the independence, English maintained its status as a first foreign language, but it was taught till the third year. Thus, pupils would have studied English for five years between the intermediate cycle the secondary one. During this period, English Language Teaching ( ELT), in Algeria, has witnessed many changes regarding its objectives, syllabuses and teaching methodologies as well.

By the end of the 1960s, ELT has become more important and widespread in the Algerian schools, especially after founding the first English Department in the University of Algiers in 1964. As a result, the French language interference has been reduced. In this regard, Miliani states that:

“In a situation where the French language has lost much of its ground in the sociocultural and educational environments of the country; the introduction of English is being heralded as the magic solution to all possible ills-including economic, technological and educational ones.”(Miliani, 2000:13).

During the 1990s, after being introduced in optional schools in Algeria, English has gained a considerable recognition in the country and become an important part in the curriculum. Consequently, many TEFL institutes have been established throughout the country in order to provide specialized training for EFL teachers. However, these training schools were facing difficulties in transmitting the English culture to those who are supposed to teach English. Most of these difficulties were due to the lack of real contact with native speakers and to the rarity of authentic materials which help the trainees to enrich their cultural knowledge about the target language. Through the last educational reform launched during the academic year 2002-2003, nothing is being said on the status of English as a second foreign language. It becomes an obligatory subject matter for the four years of middle school; it is taught since the learners’ first year and they study it three or four times a week. They take two tests and one exam each trimester; that is to say, three times a year. In the secondary cycle, EFL is still compulsory for all learners, but it is more important for literary stream than scientific or technological ones.

In fact, the Algerian new policy towards ELT aims basically at attaining some underlined goals. First, due to its international status, English was given a special interest by the Algerian Ministry of Education in order to keep pace with the world development. Second, the main aim behind this policy is to improve English proficiency of Algerian learners, especially after being acquainted with French as the country’s second language, and provide them with all the necessary tools which help them become not only autonomous learners but independent future citizens able to set and realize their objectives, and satisfy their desirable intentions.

Thanks to the globalization, English becomes a global language which meets the issues related to the rapid pace of technological advancement. Therefore, in the last Algerian educational reform in 2002-2003, there has been a great emphasis on English as a second foreign language. It was affirmed that ELT must take part in the learner’s development in all aspects. In addition, it must reinforce the national values, open-mindedness, tolerance and mutual respect with others. Thus, ELT in Algeria aims at reaching the following objectives:

3-1-General objectives

Generally, ELT has many objectives; they are of social, political, economic and cultural order. Socially, ELT aims at supplying learners with all the magnitudes which make them social beings who take part in the making of the world around them. This can be done through taking charge of their learning process, sharing and collaborating with each other and making decisions and choices regarding their learning. Politically, ELT makes learners more engaged in open conversations and communicative situations where they develop a democratic freedom of interaction and negotiation with others. At the economic level, English serves as the language of today’s world markets and its functional use in economics makes it a means of common understanding between nations around the globe. Moreover, ELT plays a key role in keeping learners in touch with the English culture and even with other cultures of different countries.

Thus, it contributes in developing their open-mindedness, enriching their knowledge and expanding their cultural background.

In short, the general objectives set to ELT in Algeria can be summarized in the official text in which the Ministry of Education affirms that:

“The second foreign language is covering seven years of study (four years in the middle education and three years in the secondary education). English language teaching aims at establishing and developing communicative, linguistic, cultural and methodological skills that will enable the learner to face situations of oral or written communication.” (Ministry of Education, 2005: 4)

3-2-Communicative Objectives

The main objective behind teaching foreign languages, such as English, is to make learners capable to communicate in the target language with different peoples around the world and have access to high technology and modern sciences.

3-3-Linguistic Objectives

The language or linguistic objectives refer to the students’ mastery of the target language through the four language skills: reading, speaking, writing and listening. In Algeria, the linguistic objectives of ELT can be summarized as follows:

- To improve the learners’ basic knowledge and support the continuity of English language learning.
- To reinforce the learning strategies which facilitate for them the language acquisition.
- To provide the learners with the necessary tools, skills and techniques to carry on their learning.

3-4-Methodological Objectives

In Oxford dictionary, the term methodology is defined as a system of methods used in a particular area of study or activity. Teaching English in Algeria aims at:

- Fostering learner autonomy which is seen as the most important methodological objective of ELT in Algerian schools. According to the Ministry of Education, the use of autonomous strategies in learning English helps learners in expanding their knowledge and getting more information.
- Making the learners actively involved in the learning process through engaging them in different learning tasks related to their real-life situations.
- Developing the learners’ mental capacities such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation though intellectual activities.

3-5-The Objectives of ELT in Middle Education

According to the Orientation Law on National Education No. 08-04 23 (January 2008), the school has four main missions: education, training, socialization and qualification, the new English curriculum has been designed appropriately to cover these missions and facilitate their accomplishment. The four years of the middle education are very important in the child’s school life; he can develop his mental, emotional, physical and social capacities.

Hence, during this foundation period, the learner starts progressively developing different competencies which help him continue a life-long learning. In the middle cycle, ELT aims mainly at assisting learners in finding solutions for the different problem situations they face during their language learning. According to the Ministry of Education, by the end of middle education, students will be able to:

- Understand, read and listen to English text, and recognize different types of text.
- Take part in different conversations and share discussions with their classmates using English language.
- Produce different types of paragraphs (letters, invitations, reports, articles…).
- Evaluate themselves and measure their own progress through different assessment tasks.

3-6-Final Objectives of ELT for Fourth Year Pupils

According to the Algerian Ministry of Education:

“The newly built syllabus contains a short introduction making explicit the finalities of the English language teaching, as set by the educational authorities of our country. From these finalities derive linguistic, methodological and cultural objectives.” (Teacher’s Handbook, 2004:03)

In order to reinforce, improve and develop the skills and the knowledge acquired during the first three years, ELT, at the fourth year middle school, aims at attaining the following aims:

3-6-1-Linguistic Objectives

- Developing and reinforcing what has been learnt during the previous three years.
- Equipping learners with the necessary tools which allow them to carry on their formal education.
- Making learners ready to attain more complementary objectives and skills in the next three years of secondary education.

3-6-2-Methodological Objectives

- Consolidating the methodologies which were adopted in the first three years.
- Enhancing the learners’ self-assessment strategies.
- Equipping learners with the necessary materials that foster their motivation and allow them to be engaged in real life situations where they use the target language.

3-6-3-Cultural Objectives

- Enriching the learners’ knowledge and culture about the different civilization contexts.
- Exposing the learner to new customs, habits and beliefs of different peoples around the world.
- Developing the learner’s open- minded perspectives and arising his eagerness to learn for the sake of gaining new culture about a particular language or people.

As a result, the syllabus of English in the fourth year middle school is complementary to the syllabi of the previous three years; therefore, the textbooks of middle education are designed by the same authors (Arab et al). So, the pupil will be exposed to the same theoretical and methodological principles.

3-7-Entrance and exit profiles

According to the Document d’Accompagnement du Programme d’Anglais,4 ème Année Moyenne :

“The pupil of fourth year middle school has already been exposed to English for three years .He knows how to interact in the class, interpret and produce verbal and nonverbal correct messages and of average complexity orally and in writing.” (2005:66).

Whereas for the exit profile, it is mentioned, in the Document d’Accompagnement du Programme d’Anglais, 4ème Année Moyenne, that:

“In the fourth year middle school, the student will have to consolidate and develop the language prerequisites, methodological and cultural knowledge acquired in the third year. The ELT aims to enable the outgoing student of fourth year:

- To interact in real situations of school life and everyday life.
- To interpret more complex authentic documents independently.
- To pass successfully the Brevet English exam.
- To continue his language learning in the next cycle in good conditions.

Basing on the above mentioned general aims of ELT in Algeria, learners use English to communicate, interact, discuss and discover the world’s cultures. Hence, ELT is considered as a cultural, technical and scientific tool which contributes effectively in the learner’s development in all dimensions.

3-8-ELT Textbooks in Middle School

During the post-colonial period, ELT textbooks, in Algeria, have been changed many times. This was due to the distrust of the Algerian educational authorities towards the English textbooks which were designed by foreigners to meet the French pupils’ needs and according to their level. (Hayane, 1989).

In addition, most EFL teachers in the mid of the 1960s were foreigners and they knew no Arabic. That is why; Algerian learners were in need of new textbooks taking into account their own requirements. By the beginning of 1970s, the Algerian educational system witnessed radical changes in different fields. Consequently, new textbooks were designed according to new standards in order to improve the English language level in Algerian schools. However, these textbooks were not so Algerian since they were still designed by a foreigner, and thus teaching English in Algeria knew many difficulties and challenges at that time. Finally, was the first Algerian course book published for the fourth grade in 1975. A year later (1976), another Algerian textbook was released for the third grade. These new textbooks were carefully designed according to the real situation of ELT in Algeria. (Hayane, 1989).

In fact, thanks to the whole reconsideration of English textbooks and Algerian education system by the end of the 1970s when the “Fundamental School” was implemented, ELT became a standalone process, especially after adopting new textbooks designed by Algerian authors. In 1984, details in the table 2.1below: Spring One was published for the third grade. A year later, another textbook Spring Two was released for the fourth grade. We can see further in the table 4 below:

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Table 4: English Textbooks in Algeria From 1968 to 2003 (Hayane, 1989)

During the academic year 2002-2003, a series of educational reforms were undertaken at different levels and applied in the three cycles; primary, middle and secondary cycle. As a result, 7 a national commission known as “Benzaghou Reform” was formed to review the programs, curricula and textbooks. In addition, this commission was in charge of making decisions concerning the teaching of foreign languages. For English language, it was decided to teach it from the first year of the middle school.

Thus, four textbooks were designed and published from 2003 to 2006; Details concerning these textbooks are shown in the table 2.2 below: Spotlight on English 1 was first published in 2003 and designed for the first grade. In 2004, Spotlight on English 2 was published for the second year pupils in middle school. Later, a new textbook was designed for the third grade and published in 2005. The last and the actual textbook On the Move designed for the fourth grade, it was published in 2006.

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Table 5: New English Textbooks (Lekhal, 2008)

This table summarizes the ELT textbooks designed for middle school learners from 2003 to the present day. From the independence till present day, English textbooks have been changed and designed many times and by many authors. During this long period, the Algerian educational authorities were trying to design the most convenient textbook which suits the Algerian pupils’ level, needs, culture and way of living as well as thinking.

4-English Language Teaching approaches

4-1-Fourth Year ELT Textbook

On the Move is the actual ELT textbook designed for the middle school fourth year students who are aged between 14 and 15 years old and have studied English for three years. It was first published by the Ministry of Education in 2006.

In the section “To the Teacher”, the author Arab mentioned that: (see Appendix E). The first part, “Language Learning” corresponds to the receptive stage of the teaching/ learning procedure. It is concerned with the acquisition of language in its various components and forms: functions, grammar and sounds. It includes:

- Listen and consider.
- Read and consider.
- Words and sounds.

The second part, entitled “Skills Building” which corresponds to the productive stage, consists in the practical uses of the language on the basis of what has been acquired in the first part. It comprises:

- Research and Report.
- Listening and speaking.
- Reading and writing.

These two parts are followed by “Project Round Up”, which is a sample breakdown of the items expected to be contained in the project of each file (see Appendix F). “Where Do We Stand Now?” is a rubric devoted to the student’s achievements, it is divided into an objective assessment called “Progress Check” (see Appendix G) and a subjective one called “Learning log” (see Appendix H). Finally, the file is closed with “Time For” which is devoted for students to take a break before moving to the next file (see Appendix I). On the Move takes up from Spotlight on English, Book Three while developing features of its own.” (Arab, 2006:8). This textbook consists of six files, all of them following the same structure, i.e. two main parts subdivided into three sections.

A good textbook would allow learners to make choices from a variety of activities. It also helps them to organize their learning and enables them to learn better, faster, clearer, and easier to meet the challenges of real- life situations.

4-2-The Notion of Autonomy within On the Move

The Ministry of Education considers developing learner autonomy as one of the main objectives of ELT in the middle of education in general and fourth year pupils in particular.

According to the Teacher Handbook, the teacher: “must keep in mind that the learners’ gradual autonomy is one of the main objectives.’’(2004:03), and this is the reason why new syllabus has been designed, new textbooks have been published and the CBA has been introduced as a new approach.On the other hand, the development of learner autonomy is mentioned by the authors of On the Move as one of the main features of this textbook “… the development of student autonomy through ‘survival strategies’ and research tasks involving group work and peer evaluation.’’ (Arab et al, 2006:09).

In this textbook and in the beginning of each file, there is an anticipating phase called “Food For Thought” in which pupils predict the files theme through illustrations. This technique renders them somehow more autonomous since they rely on their previous knowledge and predict. In addition, each file is ended with a project workshop in which pupils do a research about the file theme. In this phase, the teacher should act as a counselor; his role is to direct the learners’ efforts towards available sources of information as well as assessing their results. The project also encourages the use of extra learning resources, such as dictionaries, personal documents, and realia, which promote autonomous learning. However, these projects are often done in non-autonomous way, just getting information from the internet and copy them, or only one of the group members takes in charge.

Furthermore, On the Move offers learners the opportunity to assess their progress in a section called “Where Do We Stand Now?” .This section comes at the end of each file, and it comprises two types of complementary evaluation: “The Progress Check” and “The Learning Log”. The first type is a summative evaluation aims at involving learners in problem-solving situations and assessing their performance through different tasks related to what has been seen in the whole file.

Whereas, “The Learning Log” is basically a self-assessment activity which is less objective but more motivating to learners. The items covered are a summation of the functions, language forms, sound features and skills seen throughout the file. Learners are requested to evaluate their performance by ticking in the appropriate column (very well, fairly well, a little) against each item.

This kind of assessment helps teachers in identifying their pupils’ weaknesses in language leaning and programming a remedial work if needed. In addition, it seeks to make learners more autonomous since it gives them the opportunity to evaluate themselves and their learning as well. As it is stated in the Teachers’ Handbook:

“Finally, it is strongly recommended to provide the learner with sufficient autonomy in order to enable him to assess by himself his own weaknesses …, this will make him responsible for his learning in identifying and correcting his own mistakes.”(2004:12)

In fact, the “Learning Log” is an important assessing and motivational tool for both EFL teachers and learners, but we cannot ensure their awareness of its usefulness in language learning since not all of them are using it in our middle schools.

4-3-The Competency-Based Approach

As it is mentioned in the Teacher’s Handbook (first year middle school), a competency “is a know-how which integrates and mobilizes a number of abilities and knowledge to be efficiently used in problem solving situations that have never been met before .” (2004:4).

In other words, it refers to the individual’s ability to use appropriately the acquired knowledge, skills and capacities in order to face the challenges and hindrances which encounter him along his life. Unfortunately, most schools and universities failed to instill within learners such ability and to form competent adults able to relate what they have learnt to their real-life situations. In this regard, Slavin claims that:

“Students must receive specific instruction in how to use their skills and information to solve problems and encounter a variety of problem-solving experiences if they are to be able to apply much of that they learned in school.” (Slavin, 1998: 241)

For Slavin, education should help learners in applying what has been acquired at school in extra school contexts; otherwise this education should be reconsidered.

The CBA was first applied in USA military field. Then, it has been extended to the educational field which was suffering from various difficulties and obstacles in USA and many countries around the world. The competency-based approach seeks to bridge the gap between the classroom and everyday real life through putting together all the knowledge, know-how, abilities and attitudes acquired at school for the solution of real life problems. In other words, this approach aims at supplying learners with a set of competencies which help them reinvest their learning outcomes in situations that are commonly encountered in extra school settings.

According to the U.S. office of Education, the competency-based approach is defined as a performance based process leading to demonstrated mastery of basic and life skills necessary for the individual to function proficiently in the society. Whereas Richards and Rodgers (2001), agree that CBA focuses on what the learners are expected to do rather than on what they are expected to learn about. It is mainly based on the outcomes of learning that students should possess at the end of a course of study. However, Schneck (1978) considers the CBA as an outcome based instruction that is adaptive to the needs of students, teachers and the community. This outcome is derived from an analysis of tasks typically required of students in life role situations. On the other hand, Nunan (1988) views that the CBA is typically a learner- centered approach. For him, this approach aims at attaining the following objectives:

- To provide learners with efficient learning strategies.
- To assist learners to identify their own preferred ways of learning.
- To develop skills needed to negotiate the curriculum.
- To encourage learners to set their own objectives.
- To encourage learners to adapt realistic goals and time frames.
- To develop learners’ skills in self- evaluation. (Nunan, 1988: 13)

Basing on the above mentioned objectives, it is obvious that the CBA and learner autonomy share nearly the same aims; both of them support the learners’ involvement in learning situations which make them at the center of learning and help them acquire solid methods of learning and develop a sense of responsibility and independency.

4-4-CBA in the Algerian Educational Context

In the late of the 20 century, the concept of autonomy in learning became a matter of a great importance and the notion of ‘student power’ was current in education (Cockburn and Blackburn, 1969), and radically student-centered educational reforms were proposed by Freire (1970), Illich (1971), Rogers (1969) and others. Hence, the previous approaches were substituted by a new teaching method adopting the CBA principles. The real potential of this approach is the way it changes learners to become autonomous in their learning process; it is mainly based on the shift from teacher-centeredness to learner-centeredness. The Algerian education system was not far from this shift. Thus, the CBA is the approach currently used in ELT in Algeria.

According to the official document Programmes de la Deuxième Année Moyenne, the main aim behind implementing the CBA in Algerian middle schools is to equip learner with some competencies that enable them to reach an acceptable level of performance in EFL. These competencies can be summarized as follow:

- Oral interaction; learners interact with each other or with their teacher in order to be involved in spoken communications in English.
- Oral or written interpretation ; learners display their comprehension through oral reformulation of authentic oral or written documents.
- Oral or written production; learners produce simple oral or written messages.

Moreover, the CBA seeks to make learners behave as active users of the target language in real- world context through the establishment of: “A know-how-to-do, and a know-how-to-be in learners.” (Teacher’s Handbook, 2004:43)

In fact, the competency-based approach is predominately adopted in the Algerian educational system in order to attain a level that makes learners rely on themselves and compete with other people around the world either in the field of work or in other situations. However, this alternative approach is actually applied in middle education, but we cannot assert that its objectives have been achieved, though the approach has been implemented for more than a decade.

4-5-The actual situation of the CBA approach

Since the independence, the Algerian schools experienced different teaching methods and approaches, but unfortunately they failed to produce a generation of self-reliant individuals capable to solve their problem situations in real-life. Consequently, the CBA has been adopted as an attempt to match between the school life and real life. Thus, the syllabus is centered on the learner and on the construction of a functional knowledge which fits his needs in school and beyond it. With regard to the Algerian educational context, the competency-based approach focuses on mobilizing the learners’ values, knowledge, attitudes and behaviours in a personal way to address the challenges successfully. In this context, Chellei (2010) sees that the adoption of the CBA in Algerian schools seeks to enable young people to reach an international level in terms of required competencies which allow them to integrate in the globalized world. Besides, she views that this approach has been implemented in the Algerian educational system due to its positive implications such as:

-Making the school acquisition viable and sustainable.
-Developing the thinking process of the learner.
-Presenting learning contexts in relation to the needs of the learner.
-Putting an end to disciplinary barriers.
-Choosing a personalized pedagogy. (Chellei, 2010:30)

Actually, there is an apparent dissatisfaction about the learners’ level in English in Algerian schools. This reality is obviously reflected in the quality of English language learning and teaching as well. Therefore, educationalists consider that the only way of updating the content of education is the orientation of the training programs towards the CBA. In addition, it is scientifically proved that if learners transform their knowledge, skills and habits into competencies, they will acquire them quickly. (Chellei, 2010).

4-6-Learner ’s role in the CBA

The CBA refers to learner-centered approach. That is to say, it considers the learner as the pillar of the learning process and the cornerstone of the classroom on which both learning and teaching are based. Thus, within this approach, the learner is no more a passive receiver of knowledge; he should play a set of roles which make him actively involved in the learning process like; setting goals, making choices and decisions, sharing and cooperating with others, solving problem- situations and using different strategies to overcome such situations. In other words, the learner is totally responsible for most of the learning tasks, and so he sees himself as the real supervisor of his own learning. As stated by Edwards:

“…When students are compelled to assume greater responsibility for directing their learning, they will gradually learn to see themselves as the controllers of their own learning. Learning is seen as self-initiated and not other-initiated”. (Edwards, 1998:80)

Hence, the CBA reshapes the learners’ roles and responsibilities, and brings a radical change in their attitudes towards knowledge and learning. These roles can be summarized as follows:

- Take charge of their learning process.
- Collaborate and interact with each other.
- Assess their progress and themselves (self- evaluation).
- Create learning situations.
- Acquire problem-solving skills.
- Discover and construct knowledge.
- Develop a critical thinking.
- Contributes to information and process.

Generally, these are the roles advocated by the CBA which brings considerable changes to challenge traditional ways of learning and even teaching. Now, the change which is coming into education is the shift of the center of gravity. Whether or not these roles are really played by learners in the Algerian middle education, we cannot assert this firmly. We may say that they are to a large extent keeping the traditional way of learning, simply because they used to do so, and they are neither ready to accept these new roles nor informed how to play them.

5-The Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach

Although Algeria was one of the pioneers in implementing CLT, little was done to prepare the schools for the necessary changes and to provide the appropriate conditions required by the communicative approach. English classrooms rarely met the criteria of purposefulness and contextualization that defined CLT tasks at the level of the intended aims and objectives. Such a situation was due to the pedagogical constraints, i.e., the incongruence between the intended and implemented syllabus. What is more, the communicative approach has always been controversial in Algerian educational institutions in the sense that it challenges the traditional conceptions of good teaching and learning, i.e., fluency at the expense of accuracy. Worse still, many teachers, especially the more experienced, still do point to communication-based teaching as a reason for declining English standards in Algeria and in many parts of the world. (Benmoussat :2018)

Needless to recall, in the 1980s, CLT became a buzz term and a cliché which was used here and there rightly and wrongly, most of the time, with no precise perception in the principles it embodied in popular literature and common parlance among EFL teachers. This is another way of saying that this approach to language teaching has become so over-used that it has begun to lose its meaning. The following is an attempt to give a list, a non-exhaustive one, of the characteristics underlying communicative language teaching. In sum then, and according to Larsen-Freeman (1986), CLT is characterized by the focus on communicative competence, orientation towards learner-centeredness, emphasis on the role of teachers as facilitators and providers of a secure, non-threatening atmosphere, introduction of group activities, and finally, use of authentic materials. A related point worth noting here is that originally, the term “communicative competence” was used to refer to what a speaker needs to know in order to communicate effectively in culturally significant situations (Hymes, 1974). It has become the rallying call of CLT. The Council of Europe (2001, p. 9) defines it as “a person’s ability to act in a foreign language in a linguistically, socio-linguistically and pragmatically appropriate way.” (Benmoussat:2018).

5-The Cooperative Learning


Cooperative Learning may be broadly defined as any group learning situation in which students of all levels of performance work together in structured groups toward a shared or common goal. Brody and Albany (1998, p.8) defined it as “students work in groups toward a common goal or outcome, or share a common problem or task in such a way that they can only succeed in completing the work through behavior that demonstrate interdependence while holding individual contributions and efforts accountable”.(Wang,2010).

Jack C. Richards (2000, p. 108) listed four reasons to support such an approach to learning which is said to increase students learning:

(1) It is less threatening for many students;
(2) It increases the amount of student participation in the classroom;
(3) It reduces the need for competitiveness;
(4) It reduces the teacher’s dominance in the classroom. While the Cooperative Learning in this thesis refers those learners learn in groups, working together towards a common goal, being individually accountable for the group success. (Wang,2010).

5-2-Characteristics of CL

Cooperative Learning requires social interaction and negotiation of meaning among heterogeneous group members engaged in tasks in which all group members have both something to contribute to and learn from the other members. CL shares the following essential characteristics (Crandall, 1999, p. 227):

(1) positive interdependence;
(2) face-to-face, group interaction;
(3) individual (and group) accountability;
(4) development of small group social skills;
(5) group processing. (Wang,2010).

Breen and Mann (1997, p. 134) combine eight qualities that characterize autonomous learners:

(1) the person’s stance towards the world;
(2) their desire for what it is they are learning;
(3) their robust sense of self;
(4) metacognitive capacity;
(5) management of change;
(6) their independence from educational process;
(7) their strategic engagement with learning;
(8) their capacity to negotiate. (Wang,2010).

According to Breen and Mann, and Crandall, not only metacognitive strategies are essential for autonomy, but also learners’ attitudes towards the world, the educational environment, and themselves as language learners play a critical part. CL has been shown to encourage and support most of the affective factors with correlate positively with language learning (Crandall, 1999, p. 227), i.e., reducing (negative or debilitating) anxiety, increasing motivation, facilitating the development of positive attitudes toward learning and language learning, promoting self-esteem, as well as supporting different learning styles and encouraging perseverance in the difficult and confusing process of learning another language. All of these are important factors to be more autonomous. (Wang,2010).

7-The use of ICT in EFL

During the last two decades, the integration of ICT in language education has become a major interest of topic in language educational realm. Research findings over the past two decades provide some evidence as to the positive effects of the use of information and communications technology (ICT) on students. EFL teachers are expected to adopt a new view of their roles and professional development in the rapidly changing modern society. It is needed to explore particular skills required for ICT to enhance language learning. The use of ICT as a teaching tool emphasizes obtaining, analyzing and organizing information, by this way giving chance students to get in touch with different kinds of media. Integration of ICT necessitates deciding on the use of different ICTs in each skill, the types of ICT applications to be used, planning the favorite activities, managing problems arising from the activities planned, and so on. Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) can be regarded as a new model of teaching and learning.(Çakici,2016)


The Algerian Educational System had made objectives to be reached and had provided the necessary human, material, teaching approaches, but as any other educational system it is in continuous enhancement with regard to its international and national environment.

We consider that the endeavor is well accepted by either teachers or learners and by other parties that had used communication in English to tie various relations with partners outside of Algeria mainly in international trading and some cultural concerns.


This practical part aims to bring face to face theory and real situation in matter of learner autonomy and thus to determine its level among learners as viewed by their daily teachers.

This part begins with the presentation of the teacher’s questionnaire, then the presentation of collected answers, followed by the interpretation of these results and finally by the presentation of the findings of this research and suggests another solution to learner autonomy.

2-The Teacher ’s questionnaire

The learner autonomy context is perceived in this research as composed from 4 main elements that are :

- the teacher;
- the learner;
- the classroom;
- the outside of classroom;

These elements are supposed to be enough sufficient to assess the learner autonomy level as precisely as possible, and thus the teacher’s questionnaire was built on such elements in a set of questions for each category as follows:


Q1: What do you think are the teacher ’s roles in promoting an autonomous class?

- Guide.
- Neutral: little engagement in making instructions.
- Active: the teacher is the only responsible.
- Passive: not active and students are responsible.
- Motivator.

Q2: Do you see teaching as an objective process ?

- Yes.
- No, it is a subjective one.

Q3: In general, do inspectors prevent you from getting out of the box and use entertaining games and activities?

- Yes
- No, they encourage me to be more creative in teaching.

Q4: Algerian inspectors in general are:

1. Traditional School Pioneers.
2. Non Traditional School Pioneers.

Q5: How do you consider the notion of responsibility in the language classroom?

- Teacher's responsibility.
- Shared between teacher and student.
- Student's responsability.

Q6:Do you let your students evaluate their performance during class-interaction to themselves ?

- Yes.
- No, it's the teacher's task .

Q7:When your student commit an error:

- I correct it immediately because errors are not allowed.
- I guide him to correct it by himself because errors are allowed.

Q8: Do you use Arabic language in explaining the lesson

- Never
- Rarely
- often

Q9: Do you add, eliminate or modify the course book tasks?

- Never
- Sometimes
- Rarely

Q10-Do you usually attend teacher training programs about autonomy?

- Never
- Occasionally
- Always


Q11: In general, secondary school students are supposed to be:

- decision makers: they are involved in making a map for the lesson.
- decision takers: they have the free will to choose among a list of proposals about what they will to learn.
- neither decision makers nor decision takers.

Q12: In general, Secondary school students are :

- Passive: they receive, not produce.
- Active: interact and produce.

Q13: In general, are students in scientific streams more autonomous than students of literary ones?

- No.
- Yes.

2-3-The classroom

Q14: What is the atmosphere of your class?

- Student centered class.
- Teacher centered class.
- Balanced between both.

Q15: Do you explain the instructions step by step in detail for every task?

- Yes.
- No, they understand and answer without my help.

Q16: Do you provide your students with tasks that reflect their personal lives and interests?

- Yes.
- No, I prefer professional content that is not personal.

Q17:To what extent do you see your students confident about their performance ?

- Confident to high extent.
- Somehow confident.
- Not confident at all.

Q18: By the end of the session, do you ask your students to give you a feedback of a given type of task if they like it or not ?

- Yes.
- No, I simply believe that it is what perfectly suits them.

Q19: In evaluating your student ’s work , do you accept different but true answers and give them a full mark for the questions ?

- Yes.
- No, I prefer to stick with the model answers, eventually they will have a zero.

Q20: How do you describe the relationship between you and your students?

- Friendly.
- Professional.

Q21-Do you ask your students personal information like why were they absent last week?

- Yes.
- No, I see it a private matter that may embarrasses them.

2-4-The outside of classroom

Q22: In general, Who were responsible for choosing your student ’s streams?

- Themselves.
- Parents.
- People around them: Family, friends and society.

Q23:Do you provide your students with web sites and resources that enhance their English learning outside the classroom?

- Yes
- No, I only use materials inside classroom because they do not know how to study alone.

Q24: Do your students make extra work in English learning outside the classroom?

- Yes.
- No, the knowledge presented by the teacher is sufficient .
- Indifferent about it.

3-Collected Data

These responses were collected by May 28 , 2020 and have been given by 37 teachers. The number of collaborating teachers could be more wide if the coronavirus pandemic event wasn’t.


The following figure Fig. 5 entitled “Teacher autonomy state” depicts the teachers own perception of their autonomy.

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Fig. 6: Learner autonomy state


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Fig. 7: Classroom autonomy state

3-4-Outside of classroom

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Fig. 8: Outside of classroom autonomy state


This discussion will be made by category of questions and their respective responses in order to see where the learner autonomy is weak or absent or any other result.


The ten (10) questions addressed to the teacher specific awareness and preparation for autonomy had given the following results:

As Q1 response, teachers are very aware of their role in promoting or enhancing the learner autonomy, this is confirmed by (48,6% and 48,6%, that is to say 97,2% as guides and motivators).

As Q2 response, teachers prefer generally to follow the learning process made by another parts upon their own sight to teaching (51,4% of them as).

As Q3, we can see that 56,8% of teachers are not allowed to use new ways of teaching, while only 43 are allowed. SO, inspectors, in general, do not encourage teachers' creativity.

The big portion, in Q4, exhibits that inspectors are traditional, which means that they tend to not encourage teachers to adapt new ways of teaching like games and so on. This is an important factor that prevents teachers to be more creative, these traditional inspectors prefer that teachers stick to the prescribed curriculum. and this is another factor that made promoting autonomy somehow difficult.

Teachers see also that they are the sole responsible of classroom with exclusively of 51,4% of them (Q5) and share some responsibility with students.

Teachers maintain their tasks as a source for teaching or directing the classroom (with 67,6% in Q6) and act as guides to correct students errors (78,4% in Q7) and prefer helping learners to understand English lessons and using another language (here Arabic) with 48,6% of them (Q8).

Teachers show some flexibility in using English text book and sometimes eliminate or modify its tasks (59,5% in Q9).And show that they are interested with learner autonomy training programs (56,8% do it occasionally and 13,5% do it always in Q10).


Teachers see that their secondary learners are decision-takers (51,4% in Q11) and decision-makers at 21,6% in same question. And see that learners are very passive (91,9% in Q12) and agree that learners of scientific streams are more autonomous then those of literary streams (94,6% in Q13).


Teachers confirm that they the center of teaching in classroom with 51,4% of them in Q14 et some of them do practice balancing between teacher and learner (45,9%). And confirm their respect to explaining in step by step the instructions for doing tasks by learners (59,5% in Q15) and hopefully some learners (40,5%) are able to understand by themselves.

Learners get the professional content as programed (64,9% in Q16) and in less manner their interests are taken into consideration (35,1% in the same Q16).

Learners are also somehow confident about their performance, 45,9% in Q17 and a part of them is very confident (10,8% in same question).

At almost the same part as Q18, learners feedback is taken into consideration but they are seen as having understood lesson.

Teachers are sticky to their manner to teach by not accepting any different answer outside of the model, this is clearly shown in Q19 with 54,1% of them. And maintain their professional relation with learners (75,7% in Q20). And keep distance from their learners regarding their personal information (62,2% in Q21).

4-4-Outside of classroom

Teachers believe that choosing learners stream is due to parents with 54,1% and to people around them at 27% in Q22 and then this wasn’t their own choice. And don’t let learners using other resources thinking that they are not able to study alone (56,8% in Q23) and that the knowledge presented by teacher is enough sufficient at 48,6% of their response in Q24.


When relying on discussion of various categories where learner autonomy had been explored, we can conclude that Algerian secondary school learners are not autonomous in learning English and that result confirms our main hypothesis, because of:

-teachers themselves are not supporting learner with the right manner even they are stimulated to do so and because the previous learning in middle education stage failed in teaching them language and self-learning principles;
-learners themselves are not trying to be autonomous and those of the scientific streams are the best ones on that matter because of their future need to it;
-the classroom is still teacher centered and getting outside program is still prohibited;
-the outside of the classroom had a negative effect on choosing learner stream as it takes into consideration only the main matter such as : natural sciences, mathematics and never the learner English language competencies or skills.

6-Enhancing learner autonomy

As the applicable methods in English Language Teaching failed to produce autonomous learners and as regard to other good concepts and methods such as Fitts and Posner 3-stage learning model and the CEFR assessment grid and Cooperative Learning, we can present a combined solution that we see to be able to enhance learners autonomy under the teacher supervision, which we call the separate autonomy goals method as follows:

- teachers must focus their endeavor on the learner listening skill as the most important skill to develop;
- teachers then must also focus on the spoken production skill even by imitation;
- teachers then must focus on spoken interaction by known words to learner;
- teachers then must focus on reading skill;
- teachers then must focus on writing skill.

All this in a Cooperative Learning between learners and using ICT, that is to say, good learners can transmit easily their skills understanding to their peers in small groups within the classroom. This seen method can surely allow the best assessment of each skill apart and can give an actual overall autonomy level.

We notice that the CEFR assessment grid seems to be the application of the Fitts Posner 3-Stage Model as presented in table 2 (most right column) but that assessment grid had omitted the most important level in learning which the level 1, corresponding to the learner first contact with a foreign language, that we can call the “anchor” to learning because of its importance to motivate or demotivate learner in language skills acquisition.

General Conclusion

In chapter One we have made a very large investigation of learner autonomy and its related concepts and in chapter Two we gave a general overview on the Algerian Educational System and its main objectives on English Teaching and we gave also some other interesting methods such as Communicative Language Teaching and Cooperative Learning and use of ICT. In chapter Three, we presented our specific practical part beginning by the survey addressed to teachers via a questionnaire and then we waited for their perceived responses.

When interpreting result by categories of learner autonomy we concluded that Algerian Secondary School learners are not autonomous confirming our made hypothesis. And as autonomy context is very complex, we presented a solution that deals with each skill apart and we consider that this method can allow a good assessment of learner autonomy by increasing it in each of academic year.

Finally, our suggestions go to make special researches on how to increase each language skill apart by Master Students and the overall learner autonomy by Doctorate ones.


Bibliography 1-Books

Cotterral S. & Crabbe D.(1999).Learner autonomy in language learning: defining the field and effecting change. Peter Lang. Frankfurt. Germany.

Jiménez Raya M. & Sercu L. (2007). Challenges in Teacher Development: Learner autonomy and intercultural Competence. Peter Lang. Frankfurt. Germany.

Little D.(1991).Learner autonomy : 1-Definitions, issues and problems. Authentik Language Learning resources Ltd. .Dublin. United Kingdom.

2-Thesis and Dissertations

Djoub Z.(2017). Portfolio Training for Autonomous Language Learning . The case of Fist Year English Students at Abdelhamid Benbadis Univsersity of Mostaganem. A Thesis Submitted in Fulfilment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctorat es-Science in Educational Psychology. University of Oran 2 Mohamed Ben Ahmed.

Kadi Z.(2018). The Notion of Learner Autonomy in the Algerian EFL Classrooms: The Case of 4th Year Pupils in Guettaf Mansour Middle School (El-Bayadh). Dissertation Submitted to the Department of English as a Partial Fulfillment for the Degree of “Magister” in Psychopedagogy. Djillali Liabes University Sidi Bel Abbes.

3-Scientific Papers

Balçikanli C.(2007).Learner autonomy in a nutshell. The 11th International INGED ELT Conference. Ankara. Turkey.

Benmoussat S. & Benmoussat N.D.(2018).ELT in Algeria: The Hegemony of the Teach-to-the-Test Approach.English Language and Literature Studies; Vol. 8, No. 2. http://doi.org/10.5539/ells.v8n2p63

Benson P. (2006). State-of-the-art article. Autonomy in language teaching and learning. Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/S0261444806003958

Borg S. & Al-Busaidi S.(2012). Learner Autonomy: English Language Teachers’ Beliefs and Practices.University of Leeds.

Çakici D.(2016). The use of ICT in teaching English as a foreign language. Participatory Educational Research (PER) Special Issue 2016-IV.

Suwaed H.(2019).Beyond English Language Classroom: an Investigation into Libyan Undergraduate Petroleum Engineering Students Improving of Language skills. International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies.Vol.7, Issue 04.

Thanasoulas, D. (2000). What is Learner Autonomy and How Can It Be Fostered? The Internet TESL Journal, Vol. VI, No.11. http://iteslj.org/Articles/Thanasoulas-Autonomy.html

Tassinari, M. G. (2012).Evaluating learner autonomy: A dynamic model with descriptors. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 3 ( 1), 24-40. http://sisaljournal.org/archives/march12/tassinari

Wang X-s.(2010).Promoting language Learners’ Autonomy in Cooperative Learning. Sino-US English Teaching, ISSN 1539-8072, Feb. 2010, Volume 7, No.2 (Serial No.74), USA

3-Internet Sites

3-1-Authors Online Teacher’s questionnaire :

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1-g3JolLVOdDeb-oiIDYhGuqJ0uyV_zpmz-rn3bT4wyE/viewform?edit_requested=true (06/06/2020) – email : tahani.salhiyoucef@gmail.com

3-2-Lizzie Pinard webpage :

https://reflectiveteachingreflectivelearning.com/ (06/06/2020)

3-3-Fig. 2

https://vdocuments.mx/document/exos-certification-coaching-science-final-5-2014-athletesa-performance.html (06/06/2020)

3-4-Table 2

https://www.psia-rm.org/download/resources/fall_training/PSIA-RM%20&%20Fitts%20&%20Posner%20Stages.pdf (06/06/2020)

3-5-Kazinori Nozawa

Enhancing Learner Autonomy through Technology Enhanced Language Learning.



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Enhancing Learner's Autonomy in the EFL Context. The Case of Secondary School Students in Algeria
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Learner autonomy, Lizzie Pinard
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Tahani Salhi (Author), 2020, Enhancing Learner's Autonomy in the EFL Context. The Case of Secondary School Students in Algeria, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/900237


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Title: Enhancing Learner's Autonomy in the EFL Context. The Case of Secondary School Students in Algeria

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