Monday, October 22, 2007

Autonomy and Affect in Distance Language Learning

This is a very impressionistic summary of Stella Hurd's presentation. In her presentation, she talks about affective factors, including motivation and anxiety in distant language learners' language learning process. Maybe I am quite ignorant of the whole research area, but somehow I often feel that distance language learning has evolved into a sub-area of inquiry distinct from other sub-areas of inquiry in autonomy research, i.e. self-access center. I found that Stella's research has important pedagogical and research implications. In particular, when she talked about distance learners using cognitive and metacognitive strategies to reduce their anxiety and enhance their learning motivation, I started questioning the traditional catergorization of learning strategies with the researcher. In the traditional theorization of learning strategy, affective strategies are used by learners to deal with affective factors in the learning process. Such findings also inform our advice to our language learners, who want to deal with their motivation and anxiety problems in the learning process. Maybe, advising them on the use of affective strategies may not be sufficient.

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