Fostering autonomy in intercultural language learning in the foreign language classroom: A case study of international students learning English at a higher education institution in Ireland
Sudhershan, Aleksandra (2012) Fostering autonomy in intercultural language learning in the foreign language classroom: A case study of international students learning English at a higher education institution in Ireland. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
Full text available as:
This study is concerned with the concept of autonomy in intercultural language learning, understood here as the capacity to take responsibility for one’s own language and intercultural development. It examines how such autonomy can be developed among international students in the foreign language classroom as a means of helping this student group to maximise the potential for language and intercultural development that study abroad offers.
To investigate this issue, a qualitative case study was designed which involved 30 international students learning English in a higher education institution in Ireland over a period of one semester. The research drew on a variety of methods, including classroom observations, focus group and individual interviews as well as documents. The data were analysed by means of a computer-assisted qualitative data analysis software called NVivo8.
The results suggest that it is possible to implement an approach to learner autonomy that not only gives justice to its multifaceted nature, but also incorporates the concept of intercultural competence. More specifically, it is argued that international students should be given the opportunity to manage their intercultural language learning, develop metacognitive knowledge in relation to this process, work collaboratively with others to develop intercultural interdependence and realise their potential as agents for change.
Furthermore, the study highlights the relevance of tools, activities and approaches that can be used by the teacher to support the development of autonomy in intercultural language learning. These include: an interculturally enhanced version of the European Language Portfolio, reflection, collaborative learning and a critical pedagogical approach. While the potential and merit of the above are highlighted, their weaknesses, as viewed from an international student perspective, are also discussed. In addition, learner-related factors that may adversely affect student engagement with this approach are also analysed. Finally, drawing on the case study findings, the study suggests a set of criteria that need to be met if foreign language courses are to develop autonomy in intercultural language learning among this student population.
Archive Staff Only: edit this record