Learner autonomy in learning english reading skills

Learner autonomy in learning English reading skills is an area not being extensively explored in

Vietnam so far. This study aims at investigating first-year English majored students’ perceptions

of learner autonomy and their practices of learner autonomy in learning reading skills at a

university in Vietnam. Instruments used in the study consist of a questionnaire survey and indepth interviews. The structured questionnaire was administered to 99 participants and an indepth interview was followed up with 11 students who were selected by their mark range from

below average, above average and very good mark. Two instruments were employed to triangulate

data to fulfill the main aim of the research. The results of the survey and the in-depth interview

reveal that almost all the students understood the concept of learner autonomy and were aware of

learning autonomous activities. However, the in-depth interview results indicate that the students

still wanted to be reliant on their teachers in class to gain better results. It is suggested that teachers

should make learners independent in their learning process. In addition, teachers should create

favorable learning environment to facilitate learner autonomy in learning reading skills.

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cognitive strategies, the researchers asked 
the question “Can you tell your experiences in 
learning reading skills?” The researchers realized 
that the participants knew to move towards the 
task completion. They usually read reference 
books, foreign articles and magazines or do 
exercises to improve reading skills. It meant that 
the cognitive strategies were used most commonly 
Figure 4.5. Overall compensation strategy used by 
first year students
Figure 4.3. Overall cognitive strategy used by 
students under research
 Figure 4.4. Overall metacognitive strategy used 
by the first year students
by the students because they were easy to practise 
in learning language.
A range of responses was elicited, six of eleven 
interviewees shared the experiences to learn 
reading skills:
However, some students reported to encounter 
difficulties with learning reading skills “The 
curriculum is boring and inactive, the teacher 
only check the key or “I’m lazier in studying”. 
Very few students are not autonomous learners 
and dependent on the teacher.
The researchers also wanted to know how 
the students learn the skills by asking “What do 
you do to learn reading skills such as scanning 
and skimming?”The responses of the interviewee 
illustrated that the students completed the reading 
skills by different ways such as watching the tips 
on the internet or asking their teachers for help. 
However, some still do not care about skills of 
reading and only do exercises freely. By analyzing 
two questions above, the researchers realize that 
the cognitive strategies were used commonly by 
the students because they were easy to practise in 
learning language.
Regarding metacognitive strategies, Chamot 
and Kupper (1989) mentioned that metacognitive 
strategies involved thinking about the learning 
process, planning for learning, monitoring the 
learning task, and evaluating how well one has 
learned. All interviewees reported their use of 
planning, monitoring and evaluating the process 
of the learning reading.
In order to check interviewee’s habits in 
setting goals, planning, or evaluating reading 
skills, the researchers asked the first question “Do 
you have any objectives in learning reading skills 
at the beginning of the semester?” The results 
demonstrated that the majority of those who 
responded to this item felt that they had objectives 
when the semester began.
In accordance with the findings in the 
discussion part, the study is concluded with several 
recommendations for improving students’ learner 
autonomy in learning reading skills.
Firstly, the strategies, i.e., cognitive, 
metacognitive and compensation should be 
introduced to the students at the beginning of the 
semester. Because some of them had an exact plan 
at the beginning of the semester but they could not 
carry out those plans. If they were supported with 
the strategies instructions clearly from the teacher, 
they may gain more positive results at the end of 
the semester. For this reason, the teachers should 
engage their students in a strategy awareness and 
focus them more on the metacognitive strategies, 
which should be developed in advanced level of 
language learning. 
Secondly, it is essential for language teachers 
to encourage students to be active in the classroom 
and use English outside classroom as much as 
possible such as participating in seminars and 
forums, making friends with foreigners. The 
results indicate that students would like to change 
the way they are learning but they wish their 
teachers to control their studying so the teachers 
may need to understand this psychology to have 
suitable methods to motivate their study. Also, 
practical actions are suggested in order to help 
students experience outside activities. 
This study explores first-year English majored 
students’ perceptions on learner autonomy, and 
their practices in learning reading skills. In 
addition, based on the findings of the study, useful 
recommendations are proposed to foster learner 
autonomy in mastering reading skills not only 
inside the university of this research but also in 
new contexts. The most significant findings are 
made relating to learner autonomy perception. 
56 KHOA HỌC NGOẠI NGỮ QUÂN SỰNo. 19 (5/2019)
The data from the questionnaire survey illustrated 
that the students understood the concept of leaner 
autonomy. However, they still wanted to rely on 
the teachers in choosing the materials or creating 
learning motivation.
In the second place, the study examines what 
the students’ practices in EFL reading learning 
reveal about their learning autonomy. Most 
students did not frequently take part in activities 
(joining reading clubs or forums and seminars) 
that require arrangements, efforts or plans but 
they tended to use the available documents on the 
internet that reflects the changes in their studying 
at a university.
Last but not least, students knew to combine three 
types of strategies, i.e., cognitive, metacognitive 
and compensation in the process of learning and 
they chose particular strategies for each phase of 
one semester. However, they tended to use more 
cognitive strategies for reading skill learning./.
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Tóm tắt: Tự chủ trong việc học kỹ năng đọc tiếng Anh là một lĩnh vực chưa được khai thác nhiều 
ở Việt Nam.Nghiên cứu này nhằm mục đích điều tra về nhận thức về việc tự chủ của người học và 
thực hành quyền tự chủ của người học trong việc học kỹ năng đọc của sinh viên chuyên ngành tiếng 
Anh, tại một trường đại học ở Việt Nam. Các công cụ thu thập số liệu được sử dụng trong nghiên cứu 
bao gồm một bộ câu hỏi khảo sát và một cuộc phỏng vấn cấu trúc sâu. Bộ câu hỏi khảo sát được thực 
hiện với 99 người tham gia và một cuộc phỏng vấn sâu đã được thực hiện với 11 sinh viên có điểm 
đọc tiếng Anh trung bình, trên trung bình và rất tốt. Hai công cụ đã được sử dụng nhằm củng cố số 
liệu tìm được và thu thập số liệu phục vụ mục đích chính của nghiên cứu. Kết quả khảo sát và phỏng 
vấn sâu cho thấy hầu hết tất cả các sinh viên đều hiểu khái niệm tự chủ trong học tập và nhận thức 
được các hoạt động tự chủ trong học tập. Tuy nhiên, kết quả phỏng vấn sâu cho thấy, các sinh viên 
vẫn muốn phụ thuộc vào sự hướng dẫn và bài giảng của giảng viên trong lớp để đạt được kết quả tốt 
hơn. Một số ý kiến cho rằng, giảng viên nên làm cho người học độc lập trong quá trình học tập hoặc 
giảng viên cũng nên tạo môi trường để người học được tự chủ trong việc học kỹ năng đọc tiếng Anh.
Từ khóa: tự chủ trong học tập, người học tự chủ, chiến lược học đọc 
Ngày nhận bài: 27/4/2019; ngày sửa chữa: 07/5/2019; ngày duyệt đăng: 17/5/2019

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