In 2004, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued the College English Curriculum Requirements in an effort to revitalise English language teaching in China. This official document underpins “College English”, a compulsory course for non-English majors in the first 2 years of university study. In a break with the past, the policy document placed considerable emphasis on the development of learner autonomy. Despite these aspirations, in practice it has been observed that many teachers struggle to implement their content (Lin, Chen, Journal of PLA University of Foreign Languages 32(2):45–50, 2009; Luo, Journal of the Foreign Language World 183(6):29–36, 2017; Xu, Language and Education 7(4):2–7, 2014). To better document this mismatch and identify its causes, this research investigated 668 students and 182 teachers’ beliefs, practices and readiness for autonomy in the context of the College English course. Through a triangulated approach, this article found that both the students and teachers appeared psychologically, but not technically or behaviourally, ready for autonomy. The challenges to the promotion of autonomy in Chinese universities, therefore, seem to be more about pedagogical than cultural impediments. We conclude the paper with a number of implications to enable classroom practitioners to better integrate the development of autonomy into the curriculum.
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The invalid responses refer to those with incomplete responses. If a teacher participant failed to answer all the questions in the two sections, his or her questionnaire was considered invalid.
All the quotes have been translated by the authors.
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We would like to ask you to help us by participating in a survey. This questionnaire is not a test so there are no “right” or “wrong” answers. We are interested in your personal opinions. The results of this survey will be used for curriculum development in this school. Thank you very much for your help!
In this section, circle your response for each item: 1: strongly disagree, 2: disagree, 3: neither disagree nor agree, 4: agree, 5: strongly agree
|1||Students are responsible for deciding their learning goals|
|2||Students are responsible for selecting learning materials that suit them|
|3||Apart from the teachers, students are responsible for evaluating learning outcomes|
|4||I believe I can overcome difficulties in my learning process.|
|5||I am able to use effective learning strategies that suit me.|
|6||I will learn more when I am interested in a topic|
|7||I will encourage myself when I meet setbacks in the learning process|
|8||Every time when I begin a learning task, I know my aims|
|9||I can use different strategies for different learning tasks|
|10||I have my objectives for English learning|
|11||I have my own learning plans apart from the teachers’ assignments|
|12||I have a clear idea how I should improve my English|
|13||I give a process evaluation to make sure the tasks finished|
|14||I can finish the learning tasks according to my plan|
|15||I will monitor how I implement my learning plan after a period of time|
|16||I will reflect how I have learnt|
|17||I will evaluate my learning outcomes by finding out problems and solutions|
|18||When I finish a task, I evaluate if I have attained the goal|
|19||I know how to improve my English based on my weak points|
|20||I can evaluate my progress and make a plan accordingly|
In this section, please circle your response for each item: 1: never, 2: seldom, 3: sometimes, 4: often, 5: always
|21||I preview the learning materials for classroom teaching|
|22||Apart from the textbooks, I select learning materials that suit me|
|23||I review what I have learnt recently|
|24||I use the library and the internet to increase English knowledge|
|25||I try to improve my listening by using the internet|
|26||I have the habit of reading in English|
|27||I have the habit of writing in English|
|28||I use all the possible means to improve my oral English|
|29||I select the suitable pace to finish the self-access listening tasks|
|30||After learning one or two units, I will test my learning outcomes|
|31||I learn the cultures of English-speaking countries to supplement my English learning|
|32||I consult my teachers or classmates when I don’t understand|
Survey of teachers’ perceptions of learner autonomy
How do you evaluate your students’ degree of autonomy? What is your general impression of the level of autonomy of the students in your classes?
What roles do you think a teacher should play in fostering students’ autonomy?
How would you implement these roles in your teaching practice?
Please specify approaches you think are helpful in promoting learner autonomy.
Have you ever tried any approaches to promote learner autonomy? If yes, how? What about the effects of the approach(es)? What might be the reasons for the success or the failure of your approach(es)?
What do you think is the biggest challenge in the promotion of learner autonomy?
Have you ever felt frustrated about how to foster learner autonomy? If yes, what might be the cause(s)?
Do you think you are an autonomous learner? Please evaluate your level of autonomy in learning English.
Do you like the blended learning mode? Do you think that you are adapted to blended learning? If not, why?
What do you think is the biggest obstacle in this learning process?
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Cite this article
Lin, L., Reinders, H. Students’ and teachers’ readiness for autonomy: beliefs and practices in developing autonomy in the Chinese context. Asia Pacific Educ. Rev. 20, 69–89 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-018-9564-3
- Learner autonomy
- Teacher autonomy
- Readiness for autonomy
- Teacher beliefs
- Classroom practice