What is Learner Autonomy?
Like many other terms, the concept of learner autonomy is so difficult to define properly.According to Benson (2006), this difficulty simply stems from two basic assumptions that“there are degrees of autonomy” (Nunan, 1997: 172) and that “the behavior of autonomouslearners can take numerous different forms, depending on their age, how far they have progressed with their learning, what they perceive their immediate learning needs to be, andso on” (Little, 1991: 4), which causes the educators to make several various definitionsranging from the simplest to the most difficult one. Thus, the pertinent literature hosts aconsiderable number of perceptions and definitions of learner autonomy.Some of the most well-known definitions in the current literature are as follows:'Autonomy is an adaptive ability, allowing learners to develop supportive structures withinthemselves rather than to have them erected around them (Trim, 1976, cited in Esch, 1996).'Autonomy is the ability to take charge of one's own learning' (Holec, 1981).'Autonomy is a capacity – for detachment, critical reflection, decision-making, andindependent action (Little, 1990).'Autonomy is a situation in which the learner is totally responsible for all the decisionsconcerned with his/her learning and the implementation of those decisions' (Dickinson, 1993).‘Autonomy is a readiness to take charge of one’s own learning in the service of one’s needsand purposes’ (Dam, 1995)'Autonomy is recognition of the rights of learners within educational systems' (Benson,2001).As is easily observed in the definitions, “ability” has been very often replaced by “capacity”or “take charge of” has been replaced by “take control of” of one’s own learning (Benson,2006). Holec’s (1981) definition of learner autonomy has proved remarkably robust andremains the most widely cited definition in the field. Nonetheless, his definition explains whatautonomous learners are able to do rather than how they are able to do it. Apart from thedefinition by Dickinson (1993), the core is based on the “an attribute of learners, rather thanlearning situations.” In his definition, autonomy is regarded as the situation in which thelearners feel responsible for all the decisions, but all other definitions tend to take the term asa capacity or ability rather than a situation. As one can easily discern, there have been manyattempts to define the term properly over the last twenty five years. The point here is thatsome strongly advocate the idea that if learners are placed in situations where they have more