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Histories of Learner Autonomy in Language Education

Compiled by Richard Smith (


These pages provide sources and timelines I referred to for my paper on ‘The History of Learner Autonomy’ at the 20th anniversary Nordic Conference on Developing Autonomous Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom, September 2006, Copenhagen.

Various types of timeline are provided via the following links (I shall attempt to update these pages and add further pages as research proceeds. In their original form they were among the handouts I gave out at the above conference):


Further timelines for other contexts or aspects will be added in due course. If you spot anything that needs changing or adding, please contact me at the above email address.

Below is the list of sources I have referred to within the Timelines: published sources (1.), and interviews or responses to an e-mail questionnaire (2.).

1. Published sources

Barfield, A. and Smith, R.C. 1999. ‘Teacher-learner autonomy: Ideas for conference and workshop design’. TDTR4 Conference Proceedings.

Benson, P. 2001. Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning. Harlow: Longman.

Benson, P. 2002/2006. ‘Rethinking the relationship of self-access and autonomy’. HASALD Newsletter. Reprinted in Independence 38: 3–6.

Benson, P., & Huang, J. (forthcoming). ‘Autonomy in language learning: A thematic bibliography’. In T. Lamb & H. Reinders (Eds.), Supporting independent learning: Issues and interventions. Frankfurt: Lang.

Gremmo, M.-J. and Riley, P. 1995. ‘Autonomy, self-direction and self-access in language teaching and learning: the history of an idea’. System 23/2: 151–64.

Holec, Henri. 2000. ‘L'apport historique du CRAPEL’. Le français dans le monde (July 2000) [special issue: ‘Une didactique des langues pour demain’]: 175–79.

Jiménez Raya, M. and Vieira, F. Forthcoming. ‘Teacher development for learner autonomy: Images and issues from five projects’. In Jiménez, M. and Lamb, T. (eds), Issues in Pedagogy for Autonomy in Modern Languages Education.

‘LD profile’ = Profile of Leni Dam (presumably self-authored) on the HKUST conference (2004) web-page:

Little, David. 2000. Entry for ‘Autonomy and autonomous learners’. In Byram, M. (ed.), Routledge Encyclopedia of Language Teaching and Learning. London: Routledge.

Trim, John. 2001. ‘Conference: The work of the Council of Europe in the field of modern languages, 1957-2001’. Paper given on the European Day of Languages – 26 September 2001, at the premises of the European Centre for Modern Languages, Graz. Available online.

2. Face-to-face and email ‘interviews'

MB = Marta Bujakowska, email response, 8/06

LD = Interview with Leni Dam, 12/03/06

RE = Rigmor Eriksson, email responses, 8/06

GG = Gerd Gabrielsen, email responses, 8/06

ZG = Zosia Grudzinska, email response, 8/06

BH = Birte Hjermind, email response, 8/06

HH = Henri Holec, personal communication, 1/06

JM = June Miliander, email response, 8/06

PR = Phil Riley, personal communication, 1/06

TT = Turid Trebbi, personal communication, 23/1/06