Publication Date

Spring 4-1-2018

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (Master of Arts in TESOL)

First Advisor

Elka Todeva

Second Advisor

Elka Todeva

Third Advisor

Elka Todeva


Optimal language learning facilitation requires drawing on insights from many feeder disciplines. Key among them has been the field of second language acquisition. With the significant developments in technology and the urgency for English learners to compete in today’s globalized world, there has been a particular focus on more advanced learning strategies as well as on research in the area of student autonomy. The latter type of research has tapped into insights offered not just by applied linguists but also by polyglots who have achieved high levels of fluency in multiple languages. Independent language learning has drawn further attention as it has been shown to be an important factor in the experiences of learners who have acquired exceptional levels of attainment. This has necessitated a careful analysis and some revision of extant theories of language acquisition, with some promoting self-directed language learning as perhaps the most feasible method for individuals seeking optimal language development and cultural immersion conducive to deeper, expedited learning. This research paper seeks to understand traditional theories of second language acquisition as they relate to self-directed learning, and the fostering of autonomy in adult learners with limited educational background, studying in a somewhat mixed level context. The author will examine factors such as age, motivation, and aptitude, and correlate their interpretation in the literature with observations, surveys, and analyses of students in the context under study. To these she will add an emic perspective to self-directed learning, describing her own experience with three months of self-directed language learning. The goal of this multifaceted description is to shed light on methods, learning strategies, and other variables that determine levels of attainment outside conventional language learning approaches.


Adult and Continuing Education | Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education