Students are the people we teach - or perhaps more correctly the people whose learning we facilitate. Of course, not all language students have a teacher: some sources claim that around half of the people studying a foreign language do so on their own.
According to the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), "relatively few learn proactively, taking initiatives to plan, structure and execute their own learning processes. Most learn reactively, following the instructions and carrying out the activities prescribed for them by teachers and by textbooks. However, once teaching stops, further learning has to be autonomous."
Motivation is fundamental to a student's progress and ideally we need to know and understand each students motivation before we begin to help them to learn.
Leslie Dickinson (1993) identified five key factors that define a learner's autonomy:
- They can identify what has been taught.
- They can formulate their own learning objectives.
- They can select and implement appropriate learning strategies and study techniques.
- They can identify strategies which are not working for them and use others.
- They are able to monitor their own learning process.