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2017 Conference - The Ecological Approach in Action: Classroom Activities for Learner Autonomy
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The presenter has been working with EFL learners--many of them passive learners--who consider language learning to be a fixed, linear process. These learners project little sense of ownership towards their language learning. It is a situation in which affordances (van Lier, 2004) cannot be picked up by learners as they are not conscious of their learning processes.

The presenter sees a great potential lost in such situations and feels the need to encourage learners to feel connected to their learning processes. Her classroom activities are influenced by the van Lierian ecological approach on learner autonomy: “Autonomy in an ecological approach does not mean independence or individualism.... It means having the authorship of one’s actions, having the voice that speaks one’s words, and being emotionally connected to one’s actions and speech...,within one’s community of practice” (van Lier, 2004, p. 8).

The classroom activities introduced aim to help learners see language learning from a wider perspective and provide opportunities for learners to make connections between themselves and various factors which surround them. Factors include their relationships with people, places, learning materials, time, and motivation, as well as their future goals and aspirations. The presenter observed that these activities were not confined to the classroom but shared by students with their larger learning communities. This therefore enabled students not directly involved in the classroom activities to also have the opportunity to explore language learning from an ecological perspective.

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