2017 Election

Dear all,

Thank you for sending in your convenor nominations, and we have received three: (1) Kerstin Dofs & Moira Hobbs; (2) Diego Mideros; and (3) Andy Gao.

A voting form has been set up [vote here]. Before you vote, please take the time to read the nominees’ bio and vision statement.

Voting closes on Oct 1, 2017.

1. Kerstin Dofs and Moira Hobbs


Kerstin Dofs is currently the Manager of the Language Self Access Centre (LSAC) at Ara Institute of Canterbury where she has worked for fifteen years. She has previously worked as an English language teacher in Sweden and New Zealand and has an advising qualification, a Master of Arts in Language Learning and Technology, through the University of Hull, UK. She is now undertaking PhD studies, and her research interest lies in the area of adjustment, identity, and autonomous learning and how these presently are dealt with for non-English speaking background (NESB) students in mainstream (i.e. non-language) courses.

Moira Hobbs has worked at Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland for the past fifteen years – initially as an English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher, but now she manages the Language Learning Centre and is an Academic Development Lecturer for students from a range of vocational disciplines. She has a continuing commitment to helping students achieve their short and long term learning goals, and has long-term research interests in self-access learning and autonomy.

For the past ten years, Kerstin and Moira have formed a fruitful collaborative research and peer support partnership, and have been attending and presenting their various publications and research findings at a range of conferences both nationally and internationally. This has given them a broad network in a range of countries in the world which will be useful for the AILA convenor work.

As AILA co-convenors 2017-2020, we will work to gain assurance from the AILA ReN Committee that we maintain the research Network status of the ReN on Learner Autonomy. We are committed to reinvigorate the on-line discussions, engage committee members more actively, and we will continue to build up an even stronger network. We will also ensure that there is a stream for learner autonomy in language learning and research at the next conference Groningen, in the Netherlands in 2020. We are available to organise a ReN symposium (followed by a Business Meeting) for the 19th World Congress of the International Association of Applied Linguistics in Groningen, including blind reviewing the abstracts and posting these on the website. After the conference, we will publish an edited collection of papers and prepare a report on the ReN’s activities during the three-year term to submit to the AILA ReN Committee. We would also be happy to continue to offer ReNLA support for certain conferences with an autonomy theme anywhere in the world.

2. Diego Mideros


My name is Diego Mideros. I am originally from Colombia but I have lived, worked and studied in Trinidad and Tobago (English-speaking Caribbean) for over 11 years. I recently completed my PhD in Linguistics at The University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in Trinidad where I also work as a Lecturer in Spanish. For my PhD dissertation I conducted a phenomenological exploration of autonomy/agency among undergraduate students of Spanish in Trinidad. I was particularly interested in studying the development of autonomy and the exercise of agency from different sociocultural perspectives. Formal assessment emerged in my study as one of the main factors that appeared to have constrained the development of autonomy in the institutionalised learning experiences of my students. I am now looking forward to expanding my investigation by examining the effects of formal assessment on L2 learning and autonomy. I am also interested in theorising sociocultural constructs related to autonomy such as agency, investment and learner commitment and reflecting on the pedagogical implications of these constructs for teaching and learning praxis.

I have been fortunate to attend the last three AILA conferences. The first time, I attended as an AILA Solidarity Awardee in Beijing (2011) and presented at the RenLA symposium where the theme was “Social Dimensions of Autonomy”. This presentation resulted in a chapter (Mideros & Carter, 2014) in a book edited by one of the former convenors of the AILA RenLA, Garold Murray. I also presented at the AILA Congress in Brisbane (2014) and most recently in Rio (2017). As a novice researcher, the AILA Research Network on Learner Autonomy has enabled me to interact with experienced researchers who have generously enriched my understanding of autonomy both as a theoretical construct and as a way of being and acting in the L2 classroom. I see the RenLA and its members as a vibrant community of practice with language learners at the very heart of its existence.

The recent AILA congress in Brazil was particularly enlightening for me. I was delighted to witness the growing interest of autonomy in “my” part of the world. As a Colombian living in the English-speaking Caribbean, I would like to serve as an active convener who attempts to expand discourses on autonomy by integrating the voices and initiatives of researchers from the Americas. I will use my enthusiasm for autonomy in language learning to bring together researchers from Europe, Asia and the South Pacific with emerging researchers in the Caribbean, Central and South America.

Mideros, D., & Carter, B.-A. (2014). Meeting the autonomy challenge in an advanced Spanish listening class. In G. Murray (Ed.), Social dimensions of autonomy in language learning (pp. 135-151). Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

3. Andy Gao

Dr Andy Gao (4)_w

I am a language teacher educator at the School of Education, University of New South Wales Australia. After I graduated from the PhD program at the University of Hong Kong in 2008, I worked at Hong Kong Institute of Education and the University of Hong Kong as a language teacher educator. I have been involved in language teacher education in a variety of contexts. At the University, I was the program director for undergraduate teacher education programs, actively promoting experiential learning to broaden pre-service teachers’ vision and understanding of the world. I have been giving professional development seminars on autonomous language learning for in-service teachers in Hong Kong. I gave talks and workshops on language learning strategy, learner autonomy and language teacher education for language teachers in places such as mainland China and Taiwan.

I have been an active researcher and have broad research interests including language learner autonomy, language policy and language teacher education. I joined the community of learner autonomy researchers after I published my study on Chinese students’ language learning strategy use in the 2003 book ‘Learner Autonomy Across Cultures’ edited by David Palfreyman and Richard Smith. Over the years, I have been promoting sociocultural perspectives to understand language learners’ strategy use and language teacher identities. Relevant publications have appeared in the journals such as Innovation in English Language Teaching Journal, Language Learning and Teaching, System and TESOL Quarterly. I had the privilege of working with Garold Murray and Terry Lamb for an edited volume on identity, motivation and autonomy in language learning (2011). Since 2013, I have been editing the System Journal, which publishes quite a number of studies on language learner and teacher autonomy. I am very honored to have this possibility to serve the community of autonomy practitioners, researchers and teachers.

Vision Statement

I am passionate about translating research into teaching through teacher education. I believe that AILA Autonomy ReN can provide the critical link for practitioners, researchers and teachers. For this reason, I am committed to:

  • Promoting high quality, rigorous research to address the concerns of frontline language practitioners and teachers,
  • Encouraging language practitioners and teachers to get actively involved in research to inform our practice,
  • Facilitating connections and communications among academic researchers, practitioners and teachers in different cultures and working contexts, and
  • Building a global community of mutual appreciation, sharing and support where practitioners, researchers and teachers can work together in response to increasingly complex professional challenges.

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