Learner agency is a term which has attracted considerable attention in academic circles. A rapid search for ‘learner agency’ on the Google Scholar search engine, in fact, returned 41,100 results (from 2016-2020) in under one second. What agency means for a learner will be considered below in greater depth. Beliefs about the learners role in the learning process can be placed alone a broad continuum. At one end there is the belief that the teacher’s role is to dispense knowledge and the learners’ a largely recpetive one. Larsen-Freeman ( 2019), in fact, makes the point that in language learning ‘perceptions of language learners as nonagentive persist. At the other end of the continuum are those who promote informal learning. A search for this term, in fact, on Google Scholar returned 128,000 results (from 2016-2020) in less than a second. Informal learning is generally linked to learning which takes place outside institutional settings and is increasingly linked with digital learning. (Godwin-Jones, 2018). Some even promote the idea that learners should be left to their own devices, taking complete responsibility for their learning (Mitra, 2013) or point out the fact that learning often takes place despite the teaching informally rather than because of it.(Holliday, 2013). If learning takes place informally, in fact, in such a way, the methodology being used by the teacher may be considered to be of little importance but the aim of this discussion is to argue the opposite, which is that precisely because learner agency is a crucial factor in learning then educators who are aware of this and are able to foster it, will be better able to mediate learning in their classes.
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