Advising for language learner autonomy: An upcoming conference

Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies


Have you ever wondered what the best way is to advise students on the language learning process? This upcoming conference will be of interest to educators working as learning advisors, those involved in promoting learner autonomy, or teachers facilitating peer-advising.

  • When:Saturday, 12 Nov 2011 (also tours of two self-access centres on 11 Nov)
  • Where:Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS), Chiba, Japan
  • More information at:<>

Advising in language learning has been defined as: a “system of interventions which aims at supporting students’ methodology of language learning by means of “conversations’ i.e. by using language in the framework of social interaction to help students reflect on their learning experience, identify inconsistencies and steer their own path” Esch (1996, p. 42).

The field of advising in language learning emerged along with the early self-access centres in Europe in the 1980s as a way to facilitate learner responsibility in self-directed learning. In 1999, a conference was held at the University of Hull in the UK. This resulted in a subsequent publication (Mozzon-McPherson & Vismans, 2001), which helped to inform educators on research and practice in the area. Since then, presentations about advising have been featured at events held by IATEFL (International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language), ILA (Independent Learning Association), JASAL (Japan Association of Self Access Learning), and, of course, JALT (Japan Associationfor Language Teaching).

Advising may be part of a language teacher’s repertoire, or could be a specific role performed by a learning advisor who usually works outside the classroom. Learning advisors are “trained teachers who, instead of teaching in a traditional sense, guide learners and help them to analyse needs, set goals and implement a course of action” (Mynard & Navarro, 2010).The team of learning advisors at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) felt it was time for another event completely dedicated to advising, which would provide an opportunity for educators involved in the field to share their research and practice and to once again advance the field in a significant way like the Hull event did back in 1999.


Chapters on advising have been included in several influential books within the field of learner autonomy in the past ten years. Also, in 2007 there was a special issue of System edited by Joan Rubin dedicated to advising. More recently, current and former learning advisors at KUIS have been involved in a new edited volume on advising in language learning to be published by Longman early next year.

The conference

2011 is a significant year for KUIS as it is the 10th anniversary of our KUIS SALC (Self Access Learning Centre) and we feel that a conference is an excellent way to mark the occasion. We are grateful for the support of colleagues. For example, IATEFL Learner Autonomy Special Interest Group is sponsoring the event; the JALT Learner Development Special Interest Group is offering conference attendance grants to two delegates; JASAL is helping to promote the event; and colleagues at our sister institution, Kanda Institute of Foreign Languages (KIFL), are also playing a major role in the organization of the event, including offering tours of their self-access centre on 11November.

Not all institutions have self-access centres or employ learning advisors, yet many teachers are involved in the promotion of autonomy in significant ways. We kept this in mind when establishing sub-themes for the conference. We welcome submissions related to peer advising and class-based advising. The main sub-themes are:

  1. Training and professional development for learning advisors and peer advisors
  2. Research and practice in advising
  3. Peer advising for language learner autonomy
  4. Advising tools (i.e. learning plans, diaries, online support tools, etc.)
  5. Dialogue and discourse of advising in language learning
  6. Context-related issues for advisors and peer-advisors

Plenary speaker

The plenary speaker is Dr. Marina Mozzon-McPherson, who is the Associate Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at the University of Hull. Dr. Mozzon-McPherson has published widely on advising and has influenced the field in a significant way. She will be giving a plenary talk that explores advising discourse from a theoretical perspective.

The venue

KUIS is situated in Makuhari (Chiba), just 40 minutes by local train from Tokyo. The registration price includes refreshments, lunch (obento), drinks reception on Saturday night, IATEFL certificate of attendance, and tours of the self-access centres at KUIS and KIFL.

Call for papers

Submissions will undergo a blind peer-review selection process with adeadline of 30 Jun 2011.

Peer-reviewed proceedings

The conference proceedings will take the form of a special issue of SiSAL Journal (Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal) in March 2012.


Esch, E. (1996). Promoting learner autonomy: Criteria for the selection of appropriate methods. In R. Pemberton, E. S. L. Li, W. W. F. Or, & H. D. Pierson (Eds.), Taking control: Autonomy in language learning (pp. 35–48). Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

Mozzon-McPherson, M., & Vismans, R. (2001). Beyond language teaching towards language advising. London: CILT Publications.

Mynard, J., & Navarro, D. (2010). Dialogue in self-access learning. In A. M. Stoke (Ed.), JALT2009 Conference Proceedings. Tokyo: JALT.

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