The ReNLA Research Agenda Project

(Published in Learner Autonomy in Language Learning (, December 2012)

Naoko Aoki, Alice Chik and Richard Smith, Convenors of the AILA Research Network on Learner Autonomy in Language Learning, 2011-14

Paginated PDF version

Learner autonomy has been an increasingly popular idea among language educators. The number of researchers studying learner autonomy has dramatically increased in the past decade, while their interests have diversified. This is a good sign that our field is alive and kicking, but we also feel that the field as a whole is running the risk of losing a sense of direction. So we thought it would be a good idea to choose some areas to focus on and collaboratively develop research agendas for the next several years for each. For that purpose we need to clarify with regard to each area; 1) what we already know; 2) what we do not know yet; 3) why it is worth our while to try to know it; and 4) how we might possibly come to know it.

Our call for participation early in 2012 elicited interesting responses and we now have five areas (listed below) with one or two discussion leader(s) for each. All the discussion leaders are looking at environments in which learning and, in the case of teacher autonomy, teaching take place, be they physical, social or interpersonal. This may be a general direction in which our field is heading. Here are links to the initial statements by the discussion leaders:

Topic 1: Spaces for learning

Discussion leaders: Terry Lamb, University of Sheffield, UK & Garold Murray, Okayama University, Japan

Topic 2: Learner autonomy in the Web 2.0 era

Discussion leader: Alice Chik, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Topic 3: Learner autonomy in developing countries

Discussion leader: Martin Lamb, University of Leeds, UK

Topic 4: Learner autonomy in groups

Discussion leader: David Palfreyman, Zayed University, UAE

Topic 5: Autonomous teachers and teacher autonomy

Discussion leader: Xuesong (Andy) Gao, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

Please respond to these statements or to discussion around them at any time during the coming year. You can leave a comment on the web-page, under the statement. We are also planning a focused discussion period for each topic on the AUTO-L mailing list, to be moderated by the relevant discussion leader(s). We encourage ReNLA members to join in with these discussions as well as responding at any time on the web-pages. We are hoping that the discussions will enhance further international collaboration in research and, in due course, help create a new body of knowledge related with learner autonomy.  We are planning to organize the AILA 2014 symposium in Brisbane around these topics, inviting the discussion leaders to take part and providing other members with an opportunity to contribute.

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Maha Halabi  |  December 12, 2013 at 8:33 am

    I am really pleased with this information about autonomy . I am very proud because my supervisor Terry Lamb is one of the leaders in this project . I will be more than happy if I can attend any future seminars or conferences you might have in the future .
    All the best ,
    Maha Halabi
    PhD student research in autonomy .
    Sheffield University .


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