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A TESOL Symposium on Learner Autonomy: What Does the Future Hold?

November 8, 2008

Faculty of Languages
University of Sevilla
Sevilla, Spain

Note: There is still plenty of space available for this event. If you have not yet registered for the symposium, but would like to attend, just go to the University of Sevilla on November 8 and register on site. Registration will open at 10:00 a.m. on November 8. Contact for this program:

Featured Speakers:

  • Philip Benson
  • Leni Dam
  • Lienhard Legenhausen

Closing Session Facilitator:

  • Rosa Manchón

TESOL Symposia Global Sponsor

TESOL Symposium Local Sponsor

TESOL acknowledges and appreciates the assistance of TESOL-SPAIN

Registration Information
Registration Form (PDF)
Register Online: Secure Online Registration


From technological developments to the fundamental objectives behind the Council of Europe's Common European Framework, learner autonomy is a key issue in English language teaching (ELT). Although learner autonomy has received a great deal of attention from researchers and policy makers, 2008 presents an opportunity to pause and reflect on what has been achieved and, based on that experience, to explore the areas in the field of learner autonomy that ELT professionals need to research and develop in the future.

This one-day symposium will provide an opportunity for ELT professionals to learn from and interact with leading professionals in the field on the important topic of learner autonomy.

TESOL’s affiliate, TESOL-SPAIN, chose the theme for this symposium.


November 8, 2008

10:00 am–11:00 am Check in/Tea and Coffee and Networking

11:00 am–11:15 am

Welcome and Opening Remarks
(General Session: Room 201 - Aula Magna)

Shelley Wong, 2008-2009 President, Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc.

Hilary Plass, President, TESOL-SPAIN

11:15 am–1:45 pm

Featured Speakers: Introductory Presentations
(General Session: Room 201 - Aula Magna)

Autonomy In and Out of Class
Phil Benson

How Do We Recognize an Autonomous Classroom?—Revisited
Leni Dam

Arguments for Learner Autonomy - Analysing Linguistic Developments
Lienhard Legenhausen

1:45 pm–3:45 pm

Lunch (On Your Own)

3:45 pm–5:30 pm

Featured Speakers: Concurrent Discussions

Autonomy In and Out of Class (Room 201)
Phil Benson

How Do We Recognize an Autonomous Classroom?—Revisited (Room 203)
Leni Dam

Arguments for Learner Autonomy - Analysing Linguistic Developments (Room 103)
Lienhard Legenhausen

5:30 pm–6:30 pm Closing Session, Questions & Comments
(General Session: Room 201 - Aula Magna)
Rosa Manchón


Registration fees (includes program fees, materials, and refreshment breaks)

Pre-registration Fee
(Register by October 30, 2008)
On-site Registration Fee
(Pay on site in cash-space available basis)
Registration Fee $30 USD $45 USD (or €30 Euro)

Pre-registration Options

All pre-registrations must be received by October 30, 2008. Please be sure to provide complete contact information. The pre-registration fee is $30 USD.

Choose one of the three pre-registration options below:

  1. Register and pay online using TESOL’s secure online registration system.

    After you have successfully completed the registration process, you will receive a receipt/confirmation of payment e-mail from TESOL.
  2. Register by mailing or faxing the registration form to TESOL. Make sure to provide complete contact information and the payment information.

  3. Register by e-mailing TESOL and paying on-site.

    TESOL prefers that you pay in advance using TESOL’s secure online registration system (see Option 1, above). However, you may also pre-register by e-mail, then pay on site in cash:

    1. Pre-register by e-mail by contracting In your e-mail, make sure to provide your complete name (indicate your first/given and last/family names), title, organization, phone number, and mailing and e-mail addresses (including city, state/province, country, and postal code) and clearly state that you are “pre-registering by e-mail for the TESOL symposium in Spain.” TESOL will send you an e-mail confirming that space is available for you.

    2. Pay the pre-registration fee of $30 USD (or €20 Euro) in cash when you arrive on-site at the symposium on November 8. Please prepare the exact payment amount in advance.

If you have any questions about registration, please contact TESOL at or +1-703-518-2528. Please note that all participants must directly register for this event with Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, Inc. (TESOL).


Faculty of Languages
University of Sevilla
c/ San Fernando, 4
41004 Sevilla, Spain

The Faculty of Languages (Facultad de Filología), University of Sevilla, is located in the center of Sevilla. The historic building can be accessed from two streets, San Fernando and Palos de la Frontera. If you use the Palos de la Frontera entrance, the symposium registration area will be immediately visible as you come in. If you use the San Fernando entrance, you will need to walk straight through the building and interior courtyards until you come to the registration area.


From the Airport: Regular bus service is available, which takes approximately 30 minutes to the center of the city and the university area. A taxi will take approximately 15 minutes.

From the central railway station: Bus and taxi service is available, but the university is only a 20-minute walk.


The symposium site is within walking distance of numerous hotels and hostels. A selection is listed below. Participants should contact the hotels directly for rates, availability, and reservations.

Doña Maria
Don Remondo, 19
Tel: 954224990

Fernando III
San Jose, 21
Tel: 954217307

Hotel Alcazar
Menendez Pelayo, 10
Tel: 954412011

Hotel Murillo
Lope de Rueda, 7
Tel: 954216095

Leonardo Da Vinci
Avenida de la Costitucion, 20
Tel: 954226141

Hostal Callejon del Aqua
Coral del Rey, 23
Tel: 954 21 91 89


Autonomy In and Out of Class

Although a great deal of research has been done on classroom language learning, relatively little research has been done on language learning outside the classroom. The aim of this presentation, therefore, is both to reassert the fundamental relevance of the world of learning beyond the classroom to the idea of autonomy and to address certain problems that arise in the conceptualisation of this world. The presentation will address three central questions:

  1. How can we conceptualize learning beyond the classroom in its own terms (without, for example, using the term classroom)?
  2. How can we conceptualize learning beyond the classroom independently of particular settings and modes of practice?
  3. How can we best describe the relationship between the classroom and the world beyond the classroom?

I will argue that, in the 21st century, second language learning increasingly tends to straddle the divide between institutionalised education and daily life, such that the development of autonomy is best understood as an outcome of relationships between learning in and out of the classroom, rather than engagement in one or the other.

Phil Benson is a professor in the English Department at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. He has published widely on the subject of autonomy, including the bookTeaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning (Pearson, 2001) and a recent article in Language Teaching (vol. 40, no. 1). His current research interests include language learning histories (he is co-editor with David Nunan of the recent collection, Learners’ Stories: Difference and Diversity in Language Learning, Cambridge University Press, 2005), popular culture and language learning, and language teacher education.

How Do We Recognize an Autonomous Classroom?—Revisited

In 1994 my article “How Do We Recognize an Autonomous Classroom?” appeared in Die Neueren Sprachen. It was based on my own teaching experience of developing learner autonomy. Since then, I have supported many teachers in developing learner autonomy in their classes via workshops, talks, in-service teacher training courses, and so on. While trying to help these teachers to integrate the concept of learner autonomy into their teaching and learning, and consequently into their classrooms, I have realized that, although some of the tools mentioned in my original article seem less important today, many of the principles are still valid. This presentation will give an overview of what I see as important issues in today’s autonomous classroom.

Leni Dam took the first steps toward developing learner autonomy in language teaching and learning in her own classes in 1973, at the secondary school level in Denmark. These early experiences have informed her subsequent writing, lectures, and workshops as well as her research. Her post as educational adviser at University College, Copenhagen, which she took in 1979, has provided new insights into learner autonomy and excellent opportunities for implementing its principles in teacher education. In 2004 she was awarded an honorary doctorate in pedagogy from Karlstad University, Sweden.

Arguments for Learner Autonomy: Analysing Linguistic Developments

Today we see too little learner autonomy in our classrooms. We need to recognize the necessity of intensifying our efforts to disseminate the basic principles of learner autonomy and to encourage their implementation in foreign language classrooms. One strategy is to provide empirical evidence to convince practitioners and educational authorities that autonomous language learners are highly successful when pursuing core objectives such as communicative competence. This presentation will report on a longitudinal study of the linguistic development of autonomous language learners.

Lienhard Legenhausen is a professor of language pedagogy and applied linguistics at the University of Münster, Germany. Together with Leni Dam he carried out the research project Language Acquisition in an Autonomous Learning Environment (LAALE), which systematically followed the linguistic development of an “autonomous class” over a period of 4 years. His publications include "Language Acquisition Without Grammar Instruction?—The Evidence From an Autonomous Classroom," Revista Canaria de Estudios Ingleses, 38 (1999).

Closing Session

Rosa Manchón is an associate professor in applied linguistics at the University of Murcia, Spain. Her research interests include the sociocognitive dimension of second language acquisition, particularly second language writing processes, and research methods. She has published extensively both nationally and internationally, and her publications have appeared in journals such as Communication and Cognition, Learning and Instruction, Journal of Second Language Writing, Language Learning, and Modern Language Journal. She serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Second Language Writing and the AILA Applied Linguistics Book Series (published by John Benjamins).

Registration Terms

Registrations will be accepted on a space-available basis. Registration is limited to 200 participants.

Refund Policy

Requests for refunds of registration fees must be received by TESOL in writing by October 30, 2008. Contact: e-mail; fax +1-703-836-7864; phone +1-703-518-2528

Special Services

Please inform TESOL at the time of registration if you require special services or assistance.