Building Learner autonomy – Part II

Last month, I wrote about the need for students to become autonomous learners, and the difficulty that most teachers face in developing such autonomy in them.  My students responded very well to the article, admitting that they hadn’t been investing as much time or effort as they should towards their goal of becoming proficient speakers of English someday.  I decided that the upcoming summer vacation could be a great opportunity for them to build an autonomous attitude, so I put together this detailed list of what they could do:

• (the website or the app) is a great tool to organize and practice vocabulary in a fun and challenging way.  Go through your materials, make some word lists at Quizlet, and start playing with them.

•    Take advantage of  tools such as cable TV, Netflix or YouTube to watch as many TV programs and films in English as possible.  Even films and programs with subtitles in Portuguese will be a nice source of input, although subtitles in English work best for students who are proficient enough to follow them.  Films with no subtitles tend to be very frustrating, especially to beginners.

•     Watch Ted talks at  This website has several nice features, such as the possibility of downloading the talk to watch offline, choosing the language of the subtitles, or reading the full transcript of the talk.  A great way to learn about the world and reflect upon important issues while practicing the language.

•  Take advantage of  learning apps such as Duolingo, Memrize, Listen-English and many others.  They can be a fun (and productive) way to kill time while travelling.

•   Sing songs in English (download the video clips with lyrics from Youtube to your smartphone so that you can sing along). If necessary, also download the translation of the lyrics, since it is important to know what you are singing.

•  … or find your own ways of practicing.  The more pleasurable, the better;  it is easier to build (and stick to) a habit when you don’t think of it as an obligation.

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Vivian Magalhães

Vivian Magalhães has an English teaching degree from UFRGS and a Master’s degree in Education from PUC-RS . She is the co-author of all the books in the series “Cem Aulas Sem Tédio”, as well as the author of “Teacher Tools” and the webmaster of In over thirty years of English teaching, she has taught children, teenagers and adults in many different settings. Nowadays, Vivian runs her own English school and also works as a freelance teacher trainer.

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