Self-directed Learning


“We can only have citizens who can live constructively in this kaleidoscopically changing world if we are willing for them to become self-staring, self-initiating learners.” 

Carl Rogers 

A crucial learning element which every adult learner should encounter is the ability to be self-directed.  Inside the classroom, behaviors may be fostered which help students advance language knowledge outside the classroom.  Rather than relying upon teacher-directed methods of learning, adult students should actively assume a role in both establishing personal goals as well as determining how they will reach such goals.  As the ability to be self-directed is nurtured, adults are then further developed in assuming personal ownership of learning (Grover, et al., 2014).

To encourage self-directed learning among your adult learners, experiment with the following and I’d love to hear your results.  Or perhaps you have another teaching strategy which you’ve found to be successful in cultivating self-directed learning.  I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

Know Your Role As The Facilitator

As facilitator, you embrace the responsibility to assist students in independently making connections amidst learning as well as realizing how a specific ability can enrich one’s life.  Language instructors should encourage students to engage in informal learning activities including finding conversation partners, blogging in English, and reading English written newspapers (Grover, et al., 2014) .

Identify Goals and Determine a Plan of Action 

In a former post, I discussed how to teach goal setting and engage your students in identifying relevant goals.

Develop Self-Awareness Within Your Students

Frequently engage your students in self assessments in order to further increase awareness of personal performance.  No doubt the self-directed learner will present a thorough understanding of self as he/she is aware of their personal learning processes.  Your learner should also understand individual strengths and weaknesses, their ability to utilize different learning approaches, the importance of a learning activity, as well as when assistance is needed.  Furthermore, attention should be directed toward identifying and removing distracting articles in one’s learning environment while simultaneously developing a realistic perception of one’s ability to achieve a target learning goal (Long, n.d.).

Touch the Edge of Comfort Zones 

Develop your learner by venturing together to the edge of a comfort zone.  Introduce new experiences and opportunities and provide coaching to assist your adult learner in reviewing and learning from their individual experiences.  Allow your student the opportunity to generate feedback in order to become more aware of what was done, as well as to take increased responsibility for performing differently during future projects (Self-directed Learning, n.d.).


Long, H. B. (n.d.). Skills for self-directed learning. Retrieved 2016, from
Self-directed learning: Managing yourself and your working relationships. (n.d.). Retrieved 2016, from





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