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A Study on EFL College Students' Autonomous Learning in a CALL Self-Access Center
Chun Cheng Lin
self-access language learning
Computer-Assisted Language Learning
It is often assumed that a CALL Self-Access Classroom (SAC), a technology-enhanced environment that features resources, individualization, record-keeping and feedback, can help learners take charge of their learning. Nonetheless, while this assumption is theoretically plausible, few empirical results have offered robust evidence. The purpose of this study is to explore the factors that motivate learners to continue visiting the SAC, and any different perspectives toward self-access language learning that more frequent visitors may have from their infrequent counterparts. Participants in this study included non-English-major college students enrolled in the course of Freshman English in two years, 912 students from the fall semester of 2006 to the spring semester of 2007 and 1,086 ones from the fall semester of 2007 to the spring semester of 2008. These students were encouraged to visit the SAC after class. Each of their visits was recorded, and they had to fill in a 10-item online survey after they used one specific learning program for at least forty minutes. Moreover, at the end of each semester, the students filled out a 23-item survey questionnaire, which mainly probed into their perceptions of how the SAC may facilitate their English learning, complement their Freshman English course and boost their interest in English. For further examination, 45 students in the first year and 56 students in the second year were recruited for a semi-structured interview. Findings revealed that the freedom of choosing their preferable materials and the control of their own learning schedule in a cozy environment are two advantages of learning in the SAC. As for the benefits of learning, learners found exposure to audio/visual inputs beneficial to their listening and reading. Gains in their vocabulary, speaking and cultural understanding were also reported. Other aspects of learning, including personal and strategic awareness, planning, and evaluation of what has been acquired were identified in learners’ written responses. As for different perspectives that may exist between more frequent visitors and their less frequent counterparts, statistical analyses suggested that more frequent learners more enjoyed learning in the CALL SAC, and that they had more positive evaluations toward the assistant’s competence as well as enthusiasm to answer learners’ questions. Based upon the results, pedagogical implications and suggestions for the institution are outlined.
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