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Practice in Sweden

1970s


The project during the years from '73 to 76' we thought of exclusively in
national terms as differentiated teaching (there were similar movements and
projects in Norway and Sweden). (GG, 24/8/06)


(RE 26/08/06):

I started practising some kind of self-directed learning in the
seventies, simply because "traditional teaching" was not very
successful in upper secondary classes with mainly boys studying
engineering. I and a colleague found it worked out well if we had
strict control of what the students did (and did not) and could follow
up and give feedback. We used simple diary sheets for this.


1980s


(RE 26/08/06)

I needed more knowledge about language learning and joined a research
program including courses in applied linguistics.

1980


Oskarsson, M. (1980) Approaches to Self-Assessment in Foreign Language Learning. Oxford: Pergamon.

[is he a Swedish author? Forgive my ignorance – I don’t have the report with me at present!]



1982



I read most of the Danish reports [on differentiated teaching?] when
preparing for a talk on differentiated teaching at a meeting in Sweden
(1982, That's when I first met Turid). I also showed snippets of our [Gerd’s and Leni’s] first
classroom video there. (GG 24/8/06)



(RE, 26/08/06)

Became involved in a
project for the Swedish National Board of Education (1982-87), and
studied how teachers of English in mixed ability classes in
comprehensive schools, pupils aged 13-16, managed to individualise
their teaching. Visited hundreds of classes in Sweden, but also in the
other Nordic countries.



1984



(RE, 26/08/06)

Attended lessons in Lenis and Hannes classes in
1984, and that was my "turning point". Could their way of teaching be
implemented in Swedish schools? If so, this could be a way towards
individualisation which I had not seen in any Swedish classroom.





2nd half of 1980s



JM (22/8/06): I got into contact with learner autonomy through
the work and research by Rigmor Eriksson. This happened during the second
part of the 1980's. My first steps were to read as much as possible about
Learner Autonomy, attend conferences (Bergen 1989), go to lectures and work
as a research assistant for Rigmor in her work on teacher development and
in-service teacher training.


1986


(RE, 26/08/06): Arranged in-service training courses together with June Miliander,
beginning in 1986. Aim: To disseminate and implement communicative
teaching and a certain degree of self-directed learning in the
participating teachers classes. Communicative teaching was of course
known by most language teachers at that time, but they wanted and
needed more theory and practical ideas. Leni came and introduced her
ideas, and some of the participants became really "hooked" on them. Two
of them were Birgitta Risholm and Jörgen Tholin. They developed their
own ways of self-directed learning and came to tell participants in
later courses about their experiences.


[First Nordic Workshop on] Developing Autonomous Learning in the FL Classroom, 1986, September 18-21, Køge, Denmark (org. Gerd Gabrielsen (Danmarks Lærerhøjskole) and Leni Dam (Karlslunde skole)) [details from title of report and from TT, ed. 1990]. Participants were from Nordic countries, plus a few from the Netherlands and Austria. People that Gerd Gabrielsen knew through Council of Europe work, plus teachers in Denmark. Candlin and Breen were also there

Report published as Gabrielsen, G. (ed.). 1987. Report: Developing Autonomous Learning in the FL Classroom, Køge, September 18-21 1986. Copenhagen: Danmarks Lærerhøjskole. (source for title: Trebbi 1990; date from PB biblio.)


Explaining Swedish participation in 1986 Nordic Workshop: ‘ Rigmor had visited Leni, and we had Swedish participants to our [teacher education?] workshops,’ (GG 26/8/06)





1987


[Second Nordic Workshop on Developing Autonomous Learning in the FL Classroom], 1987, Helsinki, Finland (org. Viljo Kohonen, University of Tampere) [details from Trebbi ed., 1990]

No Proceedings issued (TT)


1988


Beginning of ‘Differentiation in the teaching of English’ in-service teacher development project, Sweden (till 1990): Rigmor Eriksson with collaboration of June Miliander. [Jimenez and Vieira, forthcoming]



(RE 26/8/06)

* Qu. was the following the 1988-1990 project mentioned by Jimenez and Vieira?]:

New project funded by the national board (nowadays the National Agency
for Education). June and I studied the effects of the INSET in the
participating teachers classes through follow-up meetings,
questionnaires, interviews, classroom visits and video recordings.
Three inset groups, 69 teachers. [see also 1991, 1993 below]


JT: In September 1988 I attended a course, run by Rigmor Eriksson and June Miliander, I then also met Leni for the first time. I guess that I was, at the time, extremely receptive, since I felt that my English teaching (at “grundskolan” age group 13 - 16) had come to a point where I to put it blunt found it dead boring to be a language teacher. When I come back from the first course week, I decided to try out some of the ideas I had been given in one of my classes, grade 9. I tried to present what I would like us to accomplish, asked them to discuss, and then left the classroom for them to fell free to discuss. When I returned they had decided that they were willing to give it a go. But only up to Christmas break “If it doesn’t work by then we like to go back to out “old” way”, they said. At Christmas time they were convinced to go on with this way.




1989


Third Nordic Workshop on Developing Autonomous Learning in the FL Classroom, 1989, August, Bergen, Norway (org. Turid Trebbi).

Report published as Trebbi, T. (ed.). 1990. Third Nordic Workshop on Developing Autonomous Learning in the FL Classroom. Bergen: Institutt for pratisk pedagogikk, University of Bergen.

The five participants from Sweden were:


Rigmor Eriksson (U. of Karlstad)

June Miliander (U. of Karlstad) [part-time until 1992?]

Agneta Olsson (Stenbockskolan, Ulricehamn)

Birgitta Risholm (Sandaredskolan, Sandared)

Jørgen Tholin (Stenbocksskolan, Ulricehamn)


1991


Fourth Nordic Conference on Developing Autonomous Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom 1991, 29 August – 1 September, Karlstad, Sweden (org. Rigmor Eriksson).

Report published as: Miliander, J., ed. (1995) Fourth Nordic Conference on Developing Autonomous Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom. Proceedings of a conference at Ransäter, Sweden, 29 August - 1 September, 1991. Högskolan I Karlstad. [source: PB bibliography]: [I need to ask June/Rigmor for a copy of the report]

‘The 1991 workshop in Sweden in particular widened the scope of the workshops, bringng in more participants from other European countries than the three previous workshops’ (Gabrielsen 1997, Introduction to Gabrielsen, ed., 1997).


(RE, 26/8/06):

[RE] Wrote a report (in Swedish):
Teacher-guided self-directed learning (1991). [based on 1988-1990 project?] [see also 1993 below]


1992+



JM (22/8/06): I believe 'learner autonomy' coincided well with my beliefs on students, learning and teaching. Still, in my classes I have always worked partly with
common material and at the same time trying to give the students as much
influence on the work as they wish to have and even forcing them and
challenged them at times. In my experience learner autonomy has worked well
in some classes less so in others. Since 1992 I have worked full time at
university, mainly in teacher education. Here I find it very difficult to
implement learner autonomy as we have little time and the students have
heavy work loads form many courses where teaching is much more traditional.
I have tried to have the students make informed decisions by requiring them
to compile portfolios where they are free to include anything they find
important and reflect on what they have compiled and learnt in the courses.
Important issues in the education are awareness of learning, learner
influence, learner responsibility and the development of reflective skills.
Great influences have been the students, of course, Rigmor Eriksson, Leni
Dam and Hanne Thomsen, Henri Holec, Turid Trebbi, Rita Gjörven och Svein
Johansen, Irma Huttonen, Viljo Kohonen and David Little.


1993


[RE, 26/8/06]:

In 1993 I defended my
thesis: Teaching language learning: In-service training for
communicative teaching and self-directed learning in English as a
foreign language. Findings in brief: the communicative approach was
accepted and applied more broadly than before the course. More language
input, more written and oral production, more pair- and group work,
more opportunities for pupils to choose their own tasks and materials.
Developing self-directed learning was the difficult part of the course
message. A year after the course only about 10% of the participants
applied self-directed learning, and another 15 % had taken steps
towards more learner responsibility. A questionnaire answered about
three years later showed clear long-term effects of the courses and
self-directed learning seemed to have expanded notably. In five later
courses the tendencies were the same, but a larger proportion had
started implementing self-directed learning. This could be because some
participants had been introduced to the ideas by their colleagues
attending earlier courses. (I will bring a copy of the thesis to the
meeting in Copenhagen.

1995


Fifth Nordic Conference on Developing Autonomous Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom, 1995, 24-27 August, Copenhagen (org. Leni Dam). Report published as Gabrielsen, G., ed. (1997) Fifth Nordic Conference on Developing Autonomous Learning in the Foreign Language Classroom, Danmarks Lærerhøjskole, Copenhagen, August 24-27, 1995. Copenhagen: Danmarks Lærerhøjskole.


The six participants from Sweden were:


Rigmor Eriksson

June Miliander

Agneta Olsson

Birgitta Risholm

Jørgen Tholin

Doris Wennerberg



etc.


[please add above or below any publications in Sweden / conferences / projects / developments in your own career, etc. etc.]


JT: All along I worked in very close contact with Rigmor who helped me, encouraged me and supported me.

During the first years [when?] I had frequent conflicts with me colleagues, especially one colleague. Looking back I can say that we were both extremely stubborn. I was not to willing to “tell the world” what I was doing in my classes or why I was doing it, since I was not altogether sure I was at the right track, not could I answer all the questions about what or why or how? She, on other hand, though it was extremely odd that I couldn’t explain what I was up to , since the she was the heads teacher she decided to present a list of grammar items that we were suppose to teach in grade seven, grade eight and grade nine. When I refused to follow the list she asked me to resign! That made me start to think about whether I wanted to stay on as a teacher or not. After I had decided that was going to “hang on”, I wrote a letter to all teachers of English at the area where I live and asked them if anyone would like to discuss language teaching, and how to deal with it. I did not mention the word Learner autonomy in the letter since no one more then me knew anything about it. Somewhere around ten teachers answered the letter and we formed group that met frequently to discuss and after some time started develop in the direction of Learner Autonomy. Some of us made drastic changes; other only took a couple of step. But for almost ten years quite a number of us were very active. At the end of the 90’s the group broke up when some of us moved from the school to other schools or other career.

What more did I do during these years? [which years?] I conducted in-service training in many school all around Sweden. During these years I meet somewhere around 6000 language teachers in different in-service training activities. I wrote a book about my classroom practice Att lära sig lära – engelska (Learning to learn – English). Together with Rigmor I wrote another book Engelska för livet (English for life) and the both of us together with Moira Linnarud wrote several course books in English called A Piece of Cake.

I also took my master degree during these years [when?], and there I made a comparison between the opinions of “ ordinary pupils” and those who had work according to the principals of Learner Autonomy. I used the result from a national survey where 10 000 pupils gave their views on English, in aspects such us fun, interesting, useful, motivation, workload, chance to influence etc. (altogether there were around 100 questions) and let 444 pupils from “learner Autonmy classes” answer the some question. The answers showed that the LA-pupils do not find it easier or choice to reduce their workload, but they find English more interesting, they see that they have a chance to influence and they believe that they learn more English then the other pupils.



2004?


(Rigmor Eriksson, 26/8/06): Leni became honorary doctor at our
university (Karlstad university) a couple of years ago


(RE, 26/8/06)
Until a couple of years ago (I retired from pre-service teacher
training about five years ago) I have had a couple of in-service
courses and several study days every year, sometimes together with
Jörgen Tholin. Besides I have had two networks with earlier course
participants and have collected some of their experiences in two books
(in Swedish). These books also contain some of the theory that have
been included in the courses. They have become very popular among both
teachers and teacher students and are used in many teacher training
courses.


Answers to email questions (22/8/06)


JM: June Miliander (22/8/06)


Qu. 1: When, how and why did you personally first get interested in
developing ‘learner autonomy’? What were your first practical steps?

Answer: It happened when I got into contact with learner autonomy through
the work and research by Rigmor Eriksson. This happened during the second
part of the 1980's. My first steps were to read as much as possible about
Learner Autonomy, attend conferences (Bergen 1989), go to lectures and work
as a research assistant for Rigmor in her work on teacher development and
in-service teacher training.

Qu. 2: What stages did you go through as you developed your autonomy-related
practice? What or who influenced you?

Answer:

I believe 'learner autonomy' coincided well with my beliefs on students,
learning and teaching. Still, in my classes I have always worked partly with
common material and at the same time trying to give the students as much
influence on the work as they wish to have and even forcing them and
challenged them at times. In my experience learner autonomy has worked well
in some classes less so in others. Since 1992 I have worked full time at
university, mainly in teacher education. Here I find it very difficult to
implement learner autonomy as we have little time and the students have
heavy work loads form many courses where teaching is much more traditional.
I have tried to have the students make informed decisions by requiring them
to compile portfolios where they are free to include anything they find
important and reflect on what they have compiled and learnt in the courses.
Important issues in the education are awareness of learning, learner
influence, learner responsibility and the development of reflective skills.
Great influences have been the students, of course, Rigmor Eriksson, Leni
Dam and Hanne Thomsen, Henri Holec, Turid Trebbi, Rita Gjörven och Svein
Johansen, Irma Huttonen, Viljo Kohonen and David Little.


RE: Rigmor Eriksson (25/8/06), answers to email questions


My "history of autonomy" is long, but I will try and give you some
major points.

I started practising some kind of self-directed learning in the
seventies, simply because "traditional teaching" was not very
successful in upper secondary classes with mainly boys studying
engineering. I and a colleague found it worked out well if we had
strict control of what the students did (and did not) and could follow
up and give feedback. We used simple diary sheets for this.

I needed more knowledge about language learning and joined a research
program including courses in applied linguistics. Became involved in a
project for the Swedish National Board of Education (1982-87), and
studied how teachers of English in mixed ability classes in
comprehensive schools, pupils aged 13-16, managed to individualise
their teaching. Visited hundreds of classes in Sweden, but also in the
other Nordic countries. Attended lessons in Lenis and Hannes classes in
1984, and that was my "turning point". Could their way of teaching be
implemented in Swedish schools? If so, this could be a way towards
individualisation which I had not seen in any Swedish classroom.

Arranged in-service training courses together with June Miliander,
beginning in 1986. Aim: To disseminate and implement communicative
teaching and a certain degree of self-directed learning in the
participating teachers classes. Communicative teaching was of course
known by most language teachers at that time, but they wanted and
needed more theory and practical ideas. Leni came and introduced her
ideas, and some of the participants became really "hooked" on them. Two
of them were Birgitta Risholm and Jörgen Tholin. They developed their
own ways of self-directed learning and came to tell participants in
later courses about their experiences.

New project funded by the national board (nowadays the National Agency
for Education). June and I studied the effects of the INSET in the
participating teachers classes through follow-up meetings,
questionnaires, interviews, classroom visits and video recordings.
Three inset groups, 69 teachers. Wrote a report (in Swedish):
Teacher-guided self-directed learning (1991). In 1993 I defended my
theses: Teaching language learning In-service training for
communicative teaching and self-directed learning in English as a
foreign language. Findings in brief: the communicative approach was
accepted and applied more broadly than before the course. More language
input, more written and oral production, more pair- and group work,
more opportunities for pupils to choose their own tasks and materials.
Developing self-directed learning was the difficult part of the course
message. A year after the course only about 10% of the participants
applied self-directed learning, and another 15 % had taken steps
towards more learner responsibility. A questionnaire answered about
three years later showed clear long-term effects of the courses and
self-directed learning seemed to have expanded notably. In five later
courses the tendencies were the same, but a larger proportion had
started implementing self-directed learning. This could be because some
participants had been introduced to the ideas by their colleagues
attending earlier courses. (I will bring a copy of the thesis to the
meeting in Copenhagen.

Until a couple of years ago (I retired from pre-service teacher
training about five years ago) I have had a couple of in-service
courses and several study days every year, sometimes together with
Jörgen Tholin. Besides I have had two networks with earlier course
participants and have collected some of their experiences in two books
(in Swedish). These books also contain some of the theory that have
been included in the courses. They have become very popular among both
teachers and teacher students and are used in many teacher training
courses.

I will try and some [sum] up some of my experiences - what makes it likely
that teachers adopt and stick to some kind of self-directed learning
(learner autonomy), but that will have to wait until Monday, since I am
off in a couple of minutes and won´t be able to write anything until
then.

By the way, did you know that Leni became honorary doctor at our
university (Karlstad university) a couple of years ago? I will tell you
why soon. And I will also have a look at the timeline on Monday.

In a hurry, best wishes


Rigmor Eriksson


JT: Jörgen Tholin (7/10/06): [subsequently published, slightly edited and expanded, in Independence 40]



Qu. 1: When, how and why did you personally first get interested in developing ‘learner autonomy’? What were your first practical steps?


Answer: In September 1988 I attended a course, run by Rigmor Eriksson and June Miliander, I then also met Leni for the first time. I guess that I was, at the time, extremely receptive, since I felt that my English teaching (at “grundskolan” age group 13 - 16) had come to a point where I to put it blunt found it dead boring to be a language teacher. When I come back from the first course week, I decided to try out some of the ideas I had been given in one of my classes, grade 9. I tried to present what I would like us to accomplish, asked them to discuss, and then left the classroom for them to fell free to discuss. When I returned they had decided that they were willing to give it a go. But only up to Christmas break “If it doesn’t work by then we like to go back to out “old” way”, they said. At Christmas time they were convinced to go on with this way.




Question 2: What stages did you go through as you developed your autonomy*related practice? What or who influenced you?


Answer: All along I worked in very close contact with Rigmor who helped me, encouraged me and supported me.

During the first years I had frequent conflicts with me colleagues, especially one colleague. Looking back I can say that we were both extremely stubborn. I was not to willing to “tell the world” what I was doing in my classes or why I was doing it, since I was not altogether sure I was at the right track, not could I answer all the questions about what or why or how? She, on other hand, though it was extremely odd that I couldn’t explain what I was up to , since the she was the heads teacher she decided to present a list of grammar items that we were suppose to teach in grade seven, grade eight and grade nine. When I refused to follow the list she asked me to resign! That made me start to think about whether I wanted to stay on as a teacher or not. After I had decided that was going to “hang on”, I wrote a letter to all teachers of English at the area where I live and asked them if anyone would like to discuss language teaching, and how to deal with it. I did not mention the word Learner autonomy in the letter since no one more then me knew anything about it. Somewhere around ten teachers answered the letter and we formed group that met frequently to discuss and after some time started develop in the direction of Learner Autonomy. Some of us made drastic changes; other only took a couple of step. But for almost ten years quite a number of us were very active. At the end of the 90’s the group broke up when some of us moved from the school to other schools or other career.

What more did I do during these years? I conducted in-service training in many school all around Sweden. During these years I meet somewhere around 6000 language teachers in different in-service training activities. I wrote a book about my classroom practice Att lära sig lära – engelska (Learning to learn – English). Together with Rigmor I wrote another book Engelska för livet (English for life) and the both of us together with Moira Linnarud wrote several course books in English called A Piece of Cake.

I also took my master degree during these years, and there I made a comparison between the opinions of “ordinary pupils” and those who had work according to the principals of Learner Autonomy. I used the result from a national survey where 10 000 pupils gave their views on English, in aspects such us fun, interesting, useful, motivation, workload, chance to influence etc. (altogether there were around 100 questions) and let 444 pupils from “learner Autonmy classes” answer the some question. The answers showed that the LA-pupils do not find it easier or choice to reduce their workload, but they find English more interesting, they see that they have a chance to influence and they believe that they learn more English then the other pupils.