‘Autonomy in Language Learning and Teaching: Techniques, Strategies and Resources’, Konin, Poland, 8-10 May, 2012
(Published in Learner Autonomy in Language Learning (https://ailarenla.org/lall), December 2012)
Miroslaw Pawlak, Adam Mickiewicz University, Kalisz, Poland
The conference Autonomy in language learning and teaching: Techniques, strategies and resources, which took place in Konin, Poland on May 8-10, 2012 was co-organized by the Department of English Studies, Faculty of Pedagogy and Fine Arts of Adam Mickiewicz University in Kalisz and the Institute of Modern Languages of State School of Higher Professional Education in Konin, and it was supported by the AILA Research Network on Learner Autonomy. It was the fourth event dealing with learner independence in language learning organized by the two institutions and the first in which presentations in English were allowed alongside those in Polish, which made it possible to add an international dimension to the conference. This time the main focus was on the tools that can be employed in fostering autonomy in different contexts but some proposals also dealt with other issues, such as learning strategies, the language policies of the Council of Europe, the interdependence of learner and teacher autonomy, the role of individual differences in the development of autonomy, as well as the methodology of research in this area. Almost one hundred specialists from Poland and abroad participated in the event and a total of seventy papers were presented, including four plenaries delivered by leading experts in the field of applied linguistics, second language acquisition and language education. The highlight of the conference was with little doubt the plenary talk by Professor David Little of Trinity College in Dublin, who discussed the pedagogical principles which should underlie the development of learner autonomy and issues involved in their implementation. Professor Little’s contribution to the event, however, was by no means confined to this inspiring lecture and also involved friendly chats with the participants over coffee breaks and his immense sense of humor that became more and more obvious as the conference was progressing and, in the course of time, became its hallmark. In the remaining three plenaries, Professor Kazimiera Myczko of Adam Mickiewicz University discussed the ways of promoting self-assessment skills in language learners, Professor Maria Wysocka of the University of Silesia tackled the issue of whether learners are indeed willing to exercise their autonomy, and Professor Danuta Gabryś-Barker of the University of Silesia presented the results of a study which tapped pre-service teachers’ perceptions of autonomy. As was the case with the three previous events, the conference boasted a rich social program which featured a reception held on the school premises on the second day, and a concert of classical music which took place in the town hall and was preceded by a tour of the old town. The papers and the discussions they generated were a source of many insights into the concept of learner autonomy and numerous ideas about how it can most effectively be fostered, which testifies to the need for organizing such events in the future. The next will be held in Konin in May 2014 and although the exact dates and theme are yet to be announced, I would like to take this opportunity to encourage all those interested to take part. Not only will it be a chance to share ideas about learner autonomy, but also to meet others who believe in promoting learner independence, and, last but for sure not least, to get to know the beauty of Poland and the hospitality of its people. After all, conferences are not only about papers and discussions, with their social aspects being at least as important.