Chapter one1.1 Research Background
With the development of computer and information technology, the computer and theinternet show their important roles in all fields of our society, and they give us muchinfluences and changes to our lifestyles, our ways of thinking and our ways of learning. Thecomputer assisted or web-based teaching and learning is becoming more and more importantand popular, and it has drawn a great attention to educators and learners. Furthermore, itstimulates more and more studies aiming at strategies of teaching and learning in computerassisted or web-based environment. In the 1980s, Henri Holec introduced “learner autonomy”to the field of second language acquisition. Especially with the popularization of globalinternet communication, the learner autonomy in language acquisition has shown itsadvantages, and it makes learning task more convenient and efficient, especially, theweb-based learner autonomy makes students’ foreign language study beyond the constraintsof time and space. The characteristics of web-based learner autonomy are flexible andindividualized. The web-based learner autonomy is beneficial for students from their learningactivities, and it is essential for cultivating learner autonomy. Now more and more studieshave been carried out for trying to find out how to help learners study language effectivelyand autonomously. Teachers have changed their roles and now they are not only supplying theinformation but also act as advisers to give students more necessary instructions and helpthem find their own way to study autonomously. Guiding students how to study and trainingthem to use effective methods or strategies consciously are vital necessities in secondlanguage acquisition. The tasks of language Education, are not just for students to mastermore language knowledge. The more important tasks are to help students to take theautonomous learning competence.
1.2 Purpose of the Research
With the appearance of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) from 1960s, andthe use of Web-based Language Learning (WBLL) from 1990s, many colleges anduniversities have made use of these advanced methods in Education, especially, in the foreignlanguage education, so it brings the appearance of Web Enhanced Language learning (WELL),Web-based Foreign Language Learning (WBFLL), Web-based Autonomous LanguageLearning (WBALL), etc. Now many colleges and universities have built their computer andinformation centers. And also many colleges and universities have installed some systems forstudents’ English autonomous learning, but many systems are aimed towards students ofnon-English majors, like “Experiencing English” of Higher Education Press, “New EraInteractive English” of Tsinghua University Press, “New Horizon College English” of ForeignLanguage Teaching and Research Press, and “New Perspective English Learning System” ofShanghai Foreign Language Education Press. But there are still many colleges of foreignlanguages which have built their own Web-based Foreign Language Autonomous LearningCenters, and they have developed many useful softwares and systems for students of Englishmajor. Many colleges and universities like Hebei Teachers College for Nationalities, just haveupgraded to four-year colleges or universities. They are backward in many aspects, especiallyin using advanced teaching tools and methods, but fortunately, these colleges and universitiescan learn and borrow a lot of valuable experience and achievements from these pilot collegesand universities.
2.1 Basic Concepts
Autonomous Learning is also known as Learner Autonomy. The term “learnerautonomy” was first coined in 1981 by Henri Holec, the “father” of learner autonomy. Manydefinitions have since been given to the term, depending on the writer, the context. Thesedefinitions cover the main points of the learning process in which the learners can controltheir own study.Some of the most well known definitions in present literature are:Learner Autonomy is the ability to take charge of one’s own learning (HenriHolec, 1981).Learner Autonomy is essentially a matter of the learner’s psychological relation to theprocess and content of learning (David Little, 1991).Learner Autonomy is a situation in which the learner is totally responsible for all thedecisions concerned with his or her learning and the implementation of those decisions(Leslie Dickinson, 1987).Autonomous learning is an active participant in the social processes of classroomlearning (Dam el al., 1995)Autonomous learning is one who has an independent capacity to make and carry out thechoices which govern his/her actions (Littlewood, 1996).Learner Autonomy is a recognition of the rights of learners within educational systems, isthe capacity to take control over one’s learning (Phil Benson, 1996).
2.2 Theoretical Basis
According the College English Curriculum Requirements (2004, 2007) and EnglishSyllabus for College English Major (2000), web-based autonomous language learning hasbecome the necessary element in modem education. The following part mainly introducesseveral representative theories to guide and support the practice of web-based autonomouslanguage learning. Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value of humanbeings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence overestablished doctrine or faith. Humanism focuses on the positive aspects of people, theirinner-directed conscious motivation and self-directed goals, which stress understanding,personal assumption of responsibility, and self-realization (Stevik, 1990).The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated, according to the successiveintellectual movements which have identified with it. (Nicolas Walter, 1997)
Chapter Three Research Methodology..... 19
3.1 Research Questions........ 19
3.2 Research Subjects..... 19
3.3 Research instruments..... 20
3.3.1 Questionnaire..... 20
3.3.2 Interview..... 20
3.3.3 Observation...... 21
3.4 Data collection and Analysis...... 22
Chapter Four Results and Discussion...... 23
4.1 Analysis of Students’ Background...... 23
4.2 Analysis of individual Factors of Affecting Web-based..... 25
4.3 Analysis of Web-based Learning Environment........ 32
4.4 Analysis of Teachers’ Roles in Web-based English Autonomous Learning....... 34
4.5 Summary..... 35
Chapter Five Strategies to Optimize Web-based English Autonomous Learning...... 38
5.1 Building up Hardware Environment for Web-based English....... 38
5.2 Exploring New Roles for Teachers.... 39
5.3 Cultivating Students’ Capability of Web-based …….. 42
Chapter Five Strategies to Optimize Web-based EnglishAutonomous Learning
5.1 Building up Hardware Environment for Web-based EnglishAutonomous Learning
Hardware of IT is the guarantee of students’ web-based English autonomous learning.The author thinks that, according to the current situation of hardware condition of HebeiTeachers’ College for Nationalities, the construction of hardware environment for web-basedEnglish autonomous learning should be improved from the following aspects.1) Effective usage of the College Information CenterThe College Information Center serves all students of different majors, but it is feasibleto install more softwares of English learning.2) Effective usage of the Web-based Language Autonomous Learning CenterForeign Language Department should make use of the Web-based Language AutonomousLearning Center well, and using this classroom for listening lesson is such a waste, so it isreasonable and feasible to increase the opening time for students’ autonomous learning.3) Increasing the network accessMost students showed, they have their own computer, so it is feasible to increase thenetwork access in their dormitories and classrooms, in order to the maintenance andmanagement of campus internet, students need to pay for the net work access.4) Opening the campus WIFI for studentsNow the campus WIFI only serves for teachers teaching and working, but it is alsofeasible to open it for students, it can make students’ web-based autonomous learning at anytime and in any place.
In this research, the author has investigated the web-based English autonomous learningof English major students of Hebei Teachers’ College for Nationalities through questionnaire,interviews and field observation. In this chapter, the thesis summarizes the major findings,points out the limitations and suggestions for the future study. The author has investigated the web-based English autonomous learning of Englishmajor students from these three aspects: the roles of students, the roles of teachers and thepresent environment for web-based English autonomous learning.First, the author has analyzed students’ background. The subjects of this research wereEnglish major undergraduates of Grade Three. They were different from non-English majorstudents. English major students could take the advantages of the web-based autonomouslearning efficiently, because they had no interference with other courses, and their major madethem find more useful information for their English learning. Internet, a multimedia ofMulti-languages (80% of web pages in English), gives students a meaningful opportunity tolearn and practice English. Internet can supply a realistic environment for students to helpthem with their English learning.