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Caribbean Journal of Education

Fostering Learner Autonomy among Mature Language Learners

Publication Date: 
April 1998

This paper uses a case study approach to examine the journals of three mature foreign language learners who participated in a project to promote learner autonomy. The learners' journals revealed that while they shared some of the concerns of their younger peers, a few factors impacted more heavily on their learning outcomes and successes. Two of these factors are examined in this paper. The first factor was the learners' affective state, in particular, their anxiety upon resuming foreign language learning after many years of attrition. The second factor was the learners' difficulty in responding to the instructional emphases of a communicative approach to language learning. The paper also examines the positive attributes of the mature language learner, notably, how these learners' self-knowledge can contribute to their success. The paper concludes with a look at the pedagogical implications of the findings of the study and suggests that an autonomous approach to language learning allows the learning needs of a variety of learners, including mature learners, to be successfully met in the foreign language classroom.

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