Learner autonomy among students of French as a foreign language in a tertiary context

Meral Özkan Gürses
Keywords: learner autonomy, French as a foreign language, the L2 Motivational Self System, motivation, second language learning


Learner autonomy has attracted numerous researchers in language teaching for the last four decades. However, there exists still a need to investigate to what extent learners of foreign languages, in particular languages other than English, are autonomous. This study aims to investigate learner autonomy in learning French at a university in Turkey by exploring students’ perceptions relevant to learner autonomy (i.e., responsibilities, abilities, and metacognitive strategies), motivation, and autonomous language learning activities. The study adopted a mixed-methods approach and the data were collected through a questionnaire (N = 57) and learning diaries (n = 14). The results revealed that the students seemed to hold teachers more responsible than themselves for learning French and in general they reported a moderate level of decision-making abilities and use of metacognitive strategies. Moreover, a considerable number of the students slightly motivated or did not feel motivated. The qualitative data on motivation analyzed based on the L2 Motivational Self System showed that the participants’ ideal L2 selves were shaped by professional aspirations and/or integrative motives. However, most of them appeared to have difficulties in maintaining their motivation and only a few students seemed to have intrinsic motivation. Furthermore, the majority of the students engaged in limited autonomous language learning activities. Thus, most of the students did not appear to be autonomous learners in learning French. The implications of the study were provided in light of the findings.

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