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Tributes to Naoko Aoki

We believe that friends and colleagues from the learner autonomy community worldwide may wish to share their memories of Naoko so please contribute with your stories at the end of this Condolences page.

Tributes to Naoko Aoki


Naoko Aoki, a former convener of the AILA Scientific Commission on Learner Autonomy, passed away in Kobe, Japan, on 8th July 2018. Naoko was appointed Professor in the Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University, in April 2004, where she worked with pre-service and in-service teachers of Japanese as a second language (JSL). Naoko began practising and writing about learner autonomy after the “Taking Control” conference in Hong Kong in 1994 and completed her PhD in 2003 at Trinity College Dublin on “Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy and the process of becoming a pro-autonomy teacher: Theoretical perspectives and life stories of six teachers of Japanese as a second language.” She was a co-convener of AILA’s Learner Autonomy Research Network from 2011 to 2014, and, earlier, the founding co-coordinator of the Japan Association for Language Teaching’s (JALT) Learner Development SIG in 1994. Naoko had a great impact on changing perspectives about learning and teaching Japanese through promoting qualitative research in the context of JSL education. Her main research interests were second language learner autonomy (both Japanese language education-related and foreign language education-related), teacher education, and narrative.

Naoko was very well-known for her work in the field of learner autonomy and is sorely missed by many in our community. Her contribution to the autonomous language learning community was immense. In many different ways, over many years, she played a leading role in the learner autonomy field, and generously, but with great modesty and professional dignity helped many teachers, students and colleagues from around the world. Many of us have personal experience of her inspiring and creative ways of including autonomous learning in her teaching.

Naoko travelled and worked with researchers all over the world, always with the students’ best interests in her mind. Naoko published extensively in both English and Japanese. Some of her publications include:

Aoki, N. (Ed.). (2016).『ことばと文字』第6号 学習者オートノミー実践報告特集。日本のローマ字社 Kotoba to Moji (Words and Letters) Special issue of learner autonomy practice. Tokyo: Nihon no Romaji-sha.

Aoki, N. (2013). Learner autonomy for personal autonomy. In Dofs, K. & Hobbs, M. (Eds.) ILA Selections 2012 (pp. 165-167). Independent Learning Association.

Aoki, N. (2013).『外国語学習アドバイジング』(Language advising: Designing your personal learning plan with advice from expert). Kindle book.

Course, S., Lamb, T. & Aoki, N. (2013). Promoting teacher/learner autonomy and improving praxis. In Barfield, A. & Alvarado, N. D. (Eds.), Autonomy in Language Learning: Stories of Practice (pp. 140-149). Canterbury: IATEFL.

Aoki, N. (2012). Can-do statements for advisors. In C. Ludwig & J. Mynard (Eds.), Autonomy in language learning: Advising in action (pp. 154-163). Canterbury, UK: IATEFL.

Aoki, N. (2011). Teacher stories to improve theories of learner/teacher autonomy. In C. J. Everhard & J. Mynard with R. Smith (Eds.), Autonomy in language learning: Opening a can of worms (pp. 33-36). Canterbury: IATEFL.

Aoki, N. & Nakata, Y. (Eds.). (2011). Gakushuusha autonomy: Nihongo kyooiku to gaikokugo kyooiku no mirai no tame ni. Tokyo: Hitsuji Shobo.

Aoki, N. and Osaka University Students (2010) A community of practice as a space for collaborative student teacher autonomy. In O’Rourke, B. & Carson, L. (Eds.), Language learner autonomy: Policy, curriculum, classroom (pp. 63-79). Bern: Peter Lang.

Aoki, N. (2010). Gakushuusha autonomy gairon (An introduction to learner autonomy). In Nakajima, A. & Kito, Y. (Eds.), Tout change! CECRL et autonomie de l’apprenant (pp. 61-77). Association des Ensegnatnts de japoneas en France.

Aoki, N. (2010). Gakushuusha autonomy, jikoshudoogata gakushuu, Nihongo Portfolio, advising, self-access. Nihongo Kyooiku Tsuushin 38. The Japan Foundation.

Kjisik, F., Voller, P., Aoki, N. & Nakata, Y. (Eds.). (2009). Mapping the terrain of learner autonomy: Learning environments, learning communities and identities. Tampere: Tampere University Press.

Aoki, N. (2009). Where learner autonomy could fail a second language user: Three-level analysis of social context. In Mapping the terrain of learner autonomy: Learning environments, learning communities and identities (pp. 236-261). Tampere: Tampere University Press.

Aoki, N. with Kobayashi, H. (2009). Defending stories and sharing one: Towards a narrative understanding of teacher autonomy. In Pemberton, R., Toogood, S. & Barfield, A. (Eds.), Maintaining Control: Autonomy and Language Learning (pp. 199-216). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Aoki, N. (2008c). Nihongo o manabu hitotachi no autonomy o mamoru tame ni (Defending autonomy of learners of Japanese). Nihongo Kyouiku, 138, 33-42.

Aoki, N. (2008b). Toojisha no iibun kara shuppatsu suru curriculum (A curriculum based on what learners claim). In Communica Institute (Ed.), Seikatsusha to shite no gaikokujin no tame no module gata curriculum no kaihatsu to gakushuu tuuru no sakusei (Developing corriculum modules and learning tools for for foreigners living in Japan) (pp. 111-126).

Aoki, N. (2008a). Teacher stories to improve theories of learner/teacher autonomy. Independence, 43, 15-17.

Aoki, N. (2008). Gakushuusha autonomy o sodateru kyoushi no yakuwari (Teachers’ roles to develop learner autonomy). Eigo Kyouiku (The English Teachers’ Magazine), 56(12), 10-13.

Aoki, N. (2006). Kyoshi ni totte no sei no shitsu (Qualty of life for teachers). In Nihongo Kyoiku Gakkai (Ed.). 2006 Nendo Shuki Taikai Yokoshu (2006 Autumn Conference Preceedings).
(Download PowerPoint file here)

Aoki, N. (2006). Kyoushi autonomy (Teacher autonomy). In K. Haruhara & S. Yokomizo (Eds.). Nihongo Kyoushi no Seichou to Jikokenshuu (Development and Self-Training for Teachers of Japanese) (pp. 138-157). Tokyo: Bonjinsha.

Aoki, N. (2006). Teacher autonomy, commitment to the profession, and teacher’s personal autonomy. In L.B. Wolff & J.L.V. Batista (Eds.). The Canarian Conference on Developing Autonomy in the Classroom: Each Piece of the Puzzle Enriches Us All (CD ROM). Canarias: Gobierno de Canarias.

Aoki, N. (2005). Jiritsu gakushuu (Autonomous learning). In Shinban Nihongo Kyouiku Jiten (Dictionary of Japanese Language Education, New Edition) (pp. 773-775). Tokyo: Taishuukan Shoten.

Aoki, N. (2003). Expanding space for reflection and collaboration. In A. Barfield & M. Nix (Eds.). Learner and Teacher Autonomy in Japan 1: Autonomy You Ask! Tokyo: Learner Development Special Interest Group of the Japan Association of Language Teachers.

Aoki, N. with Y. Hamakawa (2003). Asserting our culture: teacher autonomy from a feminist perspective. In D. Palfreyman & R.C. Smith (Eds.). Learner Autonomy across Cultures: Language Education Perspectives (pp. 240-253). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Aoki, N. (2002). Aspects of teacher autonomy: capacity, freedom, and responsibility. In P. Benson & S. Toogood (Eds.) Learner Autonomy 7: Challenges to Research and Practice (pp. 110-124). Dublin: Authentik.

Aoki, N. (2002). Teachers’ conversation with partial autobiographies. Hong Kong Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(2), 152-168.

Aoki, N. (2001). Kyooshi no yakuwari (Teacher’s roles). In N. Aoki, A. Ozaki, & S. Toki (Eds.). Nihongo Kyooikugaku o Manabu Hito no tame ni (For Students of JSL Pedagogy) (pp.184-199). Kyoto: Sekaishisoosha.

Aoki, N. (2001). The institutional and psychological context of learner autonomy. The AILA Review, 15, 82-90.

Aoki, N. (1999). Affect and the role of teacher in the development of learner autonomy. In J. Arnold (Ed.) Affect in Language Learning (pp.142-154). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Aoki, N. (1998). Examining definitions of learner autonomy. Handai Nihongo Kenkyuu (Osaka University Japanese Language Research), 10.

Aoki, N. & Smith, R.C. (1999). Learner autonomy in cultural context: the case of Japan. In S. Cotterall & D. Crabbe (Eds.) Learner Autonomy in Language Learning: Defining the Field and Effecting Change (pp. 19-28). Frankfurt am Main: Lang.

Remember to contribute with your stories below. 


July 25, 2018 at 7:50 pm 6 comments

AILA Research Network on Learner Autonomy Committee, 2017-20

You can contact any of the committee members via our email addresses


Kerstin Dofs:

Andy Gao:

Diego Mideros: Diego.

July 12, 2017 at 6:56 pm Leave a comment

AILA Congress: Rio 2017 ReNLA program


Dear All,

We are getting excited about the upcoming AILA Congress!

This is a link to the symposium programme: AILA ReNLA symposium Rio 25 July 2017

The main AILA website for more information is here:

Hope to see you in Rio soon!

Kerstin, Moira and Alice

March 7, 2017 at 8:54 am Leave a comment

Approval of Learner Autonomy ReN

Previous convenors Richard Smith, Garold Murray, and Naoko Aoki have all argued with the AILA Scientific Committee that our Learner Autonomy ReN is a vibrant and well-supported Research Network, however, they still required us to apply to renew our ReN status. In Jan 2015, we were notified that our application was approved, and our ReN will continue to operate until the next world congress in 2017. The approval will mean that we will be able to host a colloquium at the Rio Congress. As the time approaches, we will open the discussion on the direction and organisation of the colloquium.

February 11, 2015 at 6:14 am Leave a comment

Message from incoming convenors

Dear all,
Greetings all, and we hope this finds you all well, and looking forward to a break over the End of year/Christmas/New Year period, depending on where you live and what the cultural traditions are there! For the 3 current AILA ReN Convenors, Alice, Moira and Kerstin (in Australia and NZ) this means a long summer holiday, so we’ll be (hopefully) relaxing at the beach and having BBQ meals outside!!.

Since being elected, we have had a few Skype meetings and would like to keep you informed about our thoughts to date.

Previous convenors – we would like to take this opportunity to thank Naoko Aoki and Richard Smith for their dedication over the last three years. We especially thank them for consolidating resources <> for researchers and grad students who are entering the field, and coordinating an AILA symposium that is forward looking in the research agendas of our field. We wish them all the best in their future endeavor.

Committee – would those of you holding current committee posts please let us know if you would like to continue in the role, and if anyone else out there would like to offer their services for any role – please get in touch too!!

Membership – we’d like to increase our membership numbers – so if each of you can recruit at least one more person to join our group that would be great – especially if they are from South America where the next conference is being held! It is free to join, and prospective members just need to give their name and email address to Alice (

Update your email information* – please remember to let Alice know if you (or any other member) has changed email address so we can keep in touch.

AUTO-L discussion forum – please feel free to introduce a topic for discussion on this forum, or let us know about new publications and research etc so we can all keep abreast of the latest developments – any member can initiate a discussion. It is also sometimes a good place for Masters and PhD candidates to pose questions. For members who do not wish to receive notification on a daily basis, please set your preference from JISCMail < Please note – if you do not want to be on the list any more, you can unsubscribe at the bottom of the AUTO-L email at any time. If you have problem, please contact Alice (

Our future plans – there is a need for updating the web site so we will work together on a suggestion in the new year and then we will contact you about this. We will also start discussions around the next AILA congress because, even if it seems long way away at the moment, we probably need to make a decision this year about themes, topics, and speakers etc.

Moira & Kerstin & Alice

February 11, 2015 at 5:08 am Leave a comment

July 2011 Bulletin

The latest (July 2011) Bulletin is available online or as a pdf

August 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

April 2010 Bulletin

The bulletin is now available online or as a printable PDF.

April 18, 2010 at 10:52 pm Leave a comment

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