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CALL and the Development of Learner Autonomy: Towards an Activity-Theoretical Perspective

ReCALL Volume 16, Number 2, ISSN 0958-3440


While the concepts and principles associated with learner autonomy underpin a broad range of CALL applications and research projects, current debates and research paradigms in CALL do not provide adequate tools and models to investigate in depth the relationship between CALL and the development of learner autonomy. This paper explores the potential of cultural-historical activity theory to study this relationship. Starting from the complex and multidimensional nature of learner autonomy, it highlights some of the weaknesses in the CALL literature addressing some aspects of this relationship. Following a presentation of the main tenets of cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), including the notion of contradiction which is at the core of CHAT, it then seeks to demonstrate how activity theory can assist us in rethinking our understanding of learner autonomy in the context of technology-rich language learning environments and in formulating suitable criteria and questions, which can guide judgemental and empirical analyses. The paper concludes by illustrating some of the principles explored through examples drawn from an activity-theoretical judgemental analysis of a French module delivered to first year students in Dublin City University.


Blin, F. (2004). CALL and the Development of Learner Autonomy: Towards an Activity-Theoretical Perspective. ReCALL, 16(2), 377-395. Retrieved May 29, 2020 from .

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