Saudi EFL Teachers’ Perspectives on Learner Autonomy

Fakieh Alrabai


This paper reports the findings of a study that investigated the perceptions on learner autonomy of 136 English teachers in Saudi Arabia. Using a mixed-method approach that utilized a survey and an interview, teachers’ beliefs were explored considering their interpretations of the concept of learner autonomy and its role in foreign language learning, the sense of responsibility that those teachers have in helping their learners become autonomous, the extent to which they feel that their learners are autonomous, and the challenges that they face in promoting their learners’ autonomy. Descriptive statistics (i.e., frequency counts and percentages) were calculated to determine the study findings. These findings revealed that the teachers in this study conceptualized the construct of learner autonomy according to four main orientations: technical, psychological, social, and political; the teachers’ notions of learner autonomy were most strongly associated with the psychological orientation. These teachers also emphasized that they were responsible for their students’ learning, and they perceived their students as passive, dependent and lacking initiative. They further identified several factors related to the learner, the institution, and the teacher as barriers that challenge them in their facilitation of learner autonomy, with some Saudi learner-related factors being the teachers’ main challenges in this regard.

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