Abstract

Learner autonomy has become a central concern in the recent history of language learning. Self-Access Centres (SACs) play a critical role in fostering learner autonomy specifically in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) settings. As SACs aim at enabling learning to occur independent of teaching, in these centres, language learners are given more opportunities to control their own learning and gain learning experiences and learning outcomes through collaborative endeavours. This study reports an evaluation of a SAC in the School of Foreign Languages of a state university in Ankara, Turkey, where it presents a challenging task to set up a SAC at a state university due to low budget provided to state universities. Using Gardner and Miller's (1999) and Morrison's (2008) frameworks, the study examines the effectiveness of a SAC in terms of learners' attitudes, behaviours, and experiences. Data derived from the interviews conducted with more than 200 EFL learners basically reveal the following points: First, the SAC provides opportunities specifically for learning outside the classrooms. Second, it offers possibilities for learners to reflect on their own learning processes, which is a key to the use of learner strategies. Third, it encourages learners to develop their autonomous skills through the exercise of out-of-class learning because in a collaborative setting, students interact with others in the Vygotskian sense. More importantly, students mention collaborative aspects of language learning, which has been given particular weight in recent years. In spite of the above mentioned findings, there is recognition of the practical problems of a SAC.

Keywords
Self-Access Centres, Autonomy, EFL Learners.

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