Key themes in the continuing development of theory and practice in the area of learner autonomy are “in or out-of-class” language learning and the quest for research methodologies suitable for the exploration of self-direction and self-instruction (Benson, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2007). This article is divided into three main parts. In the first part, the concepts of life history research, narrative inquiry, autobiographical narratives and co-constructed narratives which inform the present study are entailed. In the second part, MACKAY, the first author, addresses the issues of learner autonomy by reporting on a life history research project which involves collecting the language learning stories of a Hong Kong student learning English both within the system and outside of it through his own initiative in “keeping on at resource persons” and “taking charge” of his goals and processes. SINN Ming-chun tells his own story of how he taught himself in the first place to do well in English examinations at school, and later how to improve and continue his language learning developing a lifelong language improvement attitude. In the third part, the second author, Sinn, first writes his autobiographical narratives encompassing his final undergraduate year (2009-10) in which he experienced English language teaching and research publications. He then utilizes a dialogical approach to show how co-constructed narratives draw attention to the significance of intertwined learner and teacher experiences; to problematize the notion that “learner autonomy” is equal to “one can learn without teacher/tutor advice, guidance, instructions or feedback (see e.g. Lee, Jor, & Lai, 2005; Tang, 2009a); and to blur the line between theory and story. If language learning is essentially a social phenomenon, then this life history-cum-co-constructed narrative inquiry research foregrounds the socio-cultural and social-ecological situatedness of researching English language learning and human communication.
|Keywords:||Learner Autonomy, Independent Learning, Learner and Teacher Experiences, Life History Research, Narrative Inquiry, Autobiographical Narratives, Co-constructed Narratives, Reflexive Research, ESL, Hong Kong|
The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Junior Research Assistant, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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