Effect of learner autonomy on English proficiency of non English major students

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Effect of learner autonomy on English proficiency of non English major students. Learner autonomy (LA) has been considered to be one of the important goals in education. This article investigates the effect of LA on English proficiency (EP) of non-English major students. 635 Vietnamese students from five member universities of the University of Danang completed the questionnaire on LA.
38
Ho Si Thang Kiet
EFFECT OF LEARNER AUTONOMY ON ENGLISH PROFICIENCY
OF NON-ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS
Ho Si Thang Kiet
The University of Danang - University of Foreign Language Studies; kiet.ho@ufl.udn.vn
Abstract - Learner autonomy (LA) has been considered to be one
oftheimportantgoalsineducation.Thisarticleinvestigatestheeffect
of LA onEnglishproficiency(EP)of non-Englishmajorstudents. 635
Vietnamese students from five member universities of the University
of Danang completed the questionnaire on LA. The collected data
levels of self-study, while the term LA refers to the ability
and attitude in learning (Dafei, 2007). Although the terms
‘independent learning’ and ‘self-directed learning’ refer to
self-study, they are often used as equivalents for LA.
was comparedwith thescores of theirEnglishlanguage course. The
results show that there are overall positive and significant
correlations between LA and their EP. However, while there are
significant correlations between LA and EP among high proficiency
learners, such correlations do not exist among low proficiency
There is a variety of definitions about LA. LA is
defined as “the ability to take charge of one’s own
learning” (Holec, 1981, p.3). This means that learners have
“a power or capacity to do something and not a type of
learners. The results also indicate that LA can predict students’ EP.
Thestudysuggests that students shouldbeaware of theimportance
of LA and empowered to take charge of their own learning process
to enhance their language proficiency. Also, LA may be used by
university administrators to predict learners’ academic potential.
conduct, behaviour” (Holec, 1981, p.3) which helps them
“to have, and to hold, the responsibilityfor all the decisions
concerning all aspects of this learning” (Benson, 2001,
p.3). Benson and Huang (2008) state that LA is transferred
Key words - learner autonomy; English proficiency; correlations;
predict, learning process.
1. Introduction
from situations in which learning proceeds independently
from teachers and teaching materials (Dickinson, 1987) to
the learner’s capacity to take charge of one’s learning
(Holec, 1981). However, Benson (2001) claims that
Since the 1970s, language teaching and learning has
shifted its focus from teaching methods to learners as
individuals inthe teachingand learningprocess, which was
reflected in the development of language teaching
methods,learningstyles andlearnerstrategies(Hall,2011).
The shift from the teaching process to the learning process
with a focus on learners has shaped the concept of learner
autonomy, an important feature of language learners who
have effective learning strategies (Valadi & Rashidi,
2014). In the globalized world, learner autonomy has
become even more important as it has been considered to
be one of the important educational goals (Benson and
Huang, 2008). Enhancing learner autonomy is therefore a
valuable and ideal goal for every educational institution
because education is a means to achieve the ultimate goal,
not the end means (Valadi & Rashidi, 2014).
Given the importance of learner autonomy in language
education, this article investigates the effect of learner
autonomy on English proficiency of non-English major
students. The article also examines whether learner
autonomy can predict their English proficiency.
Holec’s (1981) definition of LA is not complete as it does
not mention the learner’s self-management. According to
Benson (2001), LA is a multi-dimensional construct that
consists of three levels of control over learning: control
over learning management, control over cognitive
processes and control over learning content. These three
levels are inter-dependent because LA implies that the first
two levels will cover the decisions relating to learning
content (Benson, 2001, p.50). Borg & Al-Busaidi (2012)
also claimthat LAis the learner’s abilityto closely manage
their own learning process in the classroom or outside and
LA in language learning refers to the learner’s close
management of their language learning goals and methods.
In addition, LA is also a social construct which is defined
as “the competence to develop as a self-determined,
socially responsible, and critically aware participant in
(and beyond) educational environments, within a vision of
education as interpersonal empowerment and social
transformation” (JiménezRaya,LamandViera,2007,p.1).
Nguyen (2010) has an operational definition of LA which
consists of two basic threads of self-initiation and self-
regulation. Self-initiation refers to learners’ volition and
2. Theoretical background
2.1. Concept of learner autonomy
The concept of learner autonomy is not a new element
in the history of education. Learner autonomy (hereinafter
referred to as LA), especially in the field of foreign
language learning, was clearly articulated in Holec’s 1979
report for the Council of Europe (Holec, 1981). LA has
been defined in different terms in relation to language
learning. Various terms are used to refer to LA such as
‘self-instruction’, ‘self-assessment’, ‘self-education’, ‘out-
of-class learning’ or ‘distance learning’ (Benson, 2001,
p.48), but in fact they are not synonymous with the term
willingness to learn without being forced by other people,
while self-regulation involves the metacognitive skills of
planning, monitoring, and evaluating (Nguyen, 2010, p.50-
51). Nguyen’s (2010) operational definition of LA
describes the aspects of LA the most specifically;
therefore, the present study adopts the concept of LA as a
combination of self-initiation and self-regulation.
2.2. Importance of learner autonomy in education
Learner autonomy plays an important role in the learning
process. Dafei(2007)claims that LAisonetargetoflearning
and one of the most important issues that determines whether
a learner canachieve their potential or not.
LA. The above terms mainly describe different ways and
Little (2007) mentions three reasons accounting for the
ISSN 1859-1531 - THE UNIVERSITY OF DANANG, JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, NO. 12(133).2018
39
importance
of
LA.
Firstly,
LA
deals
with
learner’s
that there was a significant difference on LA between three
motivation as an autonomous learner is truly motivated to
groups of students including independent users, independent
meet his/her learning needs. Secondly, a motivated learner
learners and dependent learners. Myartawan et al. (2013)
will be likely to study more efficiently and succeed more
investigated 120 students of English at a state university in
easily depending on the level of his/her LA. Thirdly,
Bali and found that the students’ LA and EP were closely
because it is impossible to develop all necessary skills for
related. Two other studies with Iranian students also show
learners in the language classroom, those who have a
their speaking and reading skills in English were positively
higher degree of LA will have more opportunities to
correlated withtheir LA(Valadi &Rashidi,2014; Zafarian&
develop their communication skills than the others. With
Nemati, 2016). Nguyen’s (2010) study on LA in English
these reasons, LA is closely related to effective learning
language learning at two universities in Vietnam showed that
and learners with a higher degree of LA are more likely to
LA wasfeasibleinVietnameseEFLcontextand mostaspects
succeed than those with a lower degree of LA or without
of LA were positively and significantly correlated to the
LA (Myartawan, Latief & Suharmanto, 2013).
learners’EP; however,thelearnersstill needmoretrainingon
2.3. Learner autonomy in Asia
LA was previously considered to be more appropriate
in the Western educational environment than in the Asian
metacognitiveskillsofplanning,monitoringandevaluationin
order to develop LA and achieve a higher level ofEP.
3. Research method
one (Lamb, 2004). This assumption comes from the fact
The
study
applies
the
quantitative
approach
to
that Asian learners are often seen as being more passive
investigate the effect of LA on EP of non-English major
and dependent on the teacher and therefore they have
students. The non-English major students were chosen for
limited LA. According to Sakai, Chu, Takagi and Lee
this studybecause there has been noresearchoncorrelations
(2008), the students from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea
between learner autonomy and English proficiency of non-
wanted their teachers to take more control of the classroom
English major students in Vietnam. The research sample
with
materials,
learning
methods,
pace
of
lessons,
consists of 635 Vietnamese students from five member
assignments
and
assessments.
However,
these
authors
universities
of
the
University
of
Danang
including
claim that this concern has prevented the learners from
University
of
Economics,
University
of
Technology,
developing their LA. It is necessary that students be
UniversityofEducation, UniversityofTechnical Education,
encouraged to take more charge of their learning process in
and College of Information Technology. The majority of
order to enhance their LA. Some researchers claim that
participants are at the pre-intermediate English level. The
some teachers have succeeded in developing LA on Asian
study aims to answer the following research questions:
learners (Morimoto, 2006; Waikui, 2006).
(1)
What is the effect of learner autonomy on English
Compared with learners in other Asian countries, LA of
proficiency of non-English major students?
Vietnamese EFL learners is generally still limited due to the
fact that the learning environment tends to emphasize the
teacher’srole inprovidingknowledgeand the learner-centred
approach is still peripheral and underdeveloped. However,
some researchers express their concern about developing LA
for Vietnamese students. For example, Trinh (2005)
investigates the development of LA through curriculum
adaptation and innovation with tasked-based learning. Dang
(2010) analyzes the situation of teaching English in Vietnam
and findsthattheco-ordinationoftheattributes fromlearning
resources, learners, teaching and learning practices plays an
important role indevelopinglearners’ LA.
In short, LA can be feasible in Asian EFL context as
long as EFL teaching and learning practices are geared
towards the learner-centred approach in which learners are
able to take charge of their own learning process and
develop their LA.
(2) Is it possible to predict students’ English
proficiency based on their learner autonomy?
The study employed the questionnaire on LA
(Appendix) as the research instrument, which is based on
Borg and Al-Busaidi (2012) and Nguyen (2010). The
questionnaire consists of two aspects of LA including
students’ self-initiation, which includes their in-class and
out-of-class activities, and students’ self-regulation, which
involves their learning strategies of planning, monitoring
and evaluation. The questionnaire consists of 25 questions
designed on a 5-point Likert scale. The students completed
the Vietnamese version of the questionnaire so that they
can understand all the questions thoroughly. In order to
ensure all the participants’ questions in the questionnaire
are reliable, Cronbach’s Alpha was calculated to measure
the internal reliability of the questionnaire. The result
shows that the Cronbach’s Alpha of the questionnaire is
2.4. Relationship between learner autonomy and English
.747, which is an acceptable reliability with a Cronbach’s
proficiency in Asia
Alpha from 0.70 and above (DeVellis, 2003).
Previous
studies
on
English
language
teaching
and
In order to calculate the correlations between LA and
learning in Asian countries have shown that there is a close
EP, the scores of the questionnaire on LA are compared
relationship between LA and learners’ English Proficiency
with the students’ scores of English language course which
(hereinafter referred to as EP). Dafei (2007) investigated 129
reflect the students’ overall EP. The students’ English
non-English
major
students
at
a
university
of
teacher
scores are classified into four levels of English proficiency
educationinChinaand foundthattheirEP waspositivelyand
as giveninTable 1.The four levels ofEP include Excellent
significantly correlated to their LA. Sakai & Takagi’s (2009)
(8.9%), Good (53.4%), Average (32.3%), and Pass (5.4%).
study with 721 students from 16 universities in Japan shows
The students of Excellent and Good EP belong to high
40
Ho Si Thang Kiet
proficiency learners and those of Average and Pass EP
Table 4. Correlations between LA and Good EP
belong to low proficiency learners.
Good
Self-
Self-
Table 1. The students levels of English proficiency
Level of EP Grading in Grading in Number of Percentage
number letter students
Excellent 8.5 - 10 A 57 8.9
Good 7.0 - 8.4 B 339 53.4
Average 5.5 - 6.9 C 205 32.3
Pass 4.0 - 5.4 D 34 5.4
Total 635 100.0
Good EP
Self-
initiation
LA
Self-
regulation
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
EP
1
339
.289**
000
339
.277**
000
initiation
.289**
000
339
1
339
.172**
000
regulation
.277**
000
339
.172**
000
339
1
4. Results
To examine whether there is any effect of LA on the
learners’ EP, the Pearson Product Moment Correlation is
performed.ThePearsoncorrelationcoefficient,alsoreferredto
asthePearson'sr,isameasureofthelinearcorrelationbetween
twovariables.Ithasavaluebetween+1and−1,where1istotal
positive linear correlation, 0 is no linear correlation, and −1 is
total negative linear correlation. The results of the correlations
betweenLAandEP aregiveninTable2.
N 339 339 339
Notes: **p<.01 (2-tailed); EP = English proficiency;
LA = Learner autonomy
Table 5. Correlations between LA and Average EP
Average Self- Self-
EP initiation regulation
Average EP Pearson 1 .099 .071
Sig(2-tailed) 160 313
N 205 205 205
Self- Pearson .099 1 .063
As can be seen in Table 2, there are positive and
significant correlations at the 0.01 level (p<.01) between
EP and the students’ self-initiation and self-regulation with
r = .271 and r = .257 respectively. The correlation of self-
initiation with EP is higher than self-regulation and the
correlations between self-initiation and self-regulation are
initiation Sig(2-tailed) 160 354
LA N 205 205 205
Self- Pearson .071 .063 1
regulation Sig(2-tailed) 313 354
N 205 205 205
Notes: EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy
also statistically significant with r = .191, p<.01.
Table 6. Correlations between LA and Pass EP
EP
LA
Table 2. Correlations between LA and EP
EP Self- Self-
initiation regulation
Pearson 1 .271** .257**
Sig(2-tailed) 000 000
N 635 635 635
Self- Pearson .271** 1 .191**
initiation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000
N 635 635 635
Self- Pearson .257** .191** 1
regulation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000
Pass EP
Self-
initiation
LA
Self-
regulation
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pass
EP
1
34
.043
809
34
.037
834
34
Self-
initiation
.043
809
34
1
34
.031
768
34
Self-
regulation
.037
834
34
.031
768
34
1
34
N
635
635
635
Notes: EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy
Notes: **p<.01 (2-tailed);
LA = Learner autonomy
EP
=
English
proficiency;
As can be seen in Table 3 and 4, there are positive and
significant correlations at the 0.01 level (p<.01) between
Table 3. Correlations between LA and Excellent EP
LA and EP of high proficiency learners. Specifically, the
Excellent EP
Pearson
Excellent
EP
1
Self-
initiation
.358**
Self-
regulation
.332**
correlations between EP and self-initiation and self-
regulation of the students of Excellent EP are r = .358 and
r = .332 respectively and those for the students of Good EP
Self-
initiation
LA
Self-
regulation
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
Pearson
Sig(2-tailed)
N
57
.358**
000
57
.332**
000
57
000
57
1
57
.221**
000
57
000
57
.221**
000
57
1
57
are r = .289 and r = .277 respectively. The correlations
between self-initiation and self-regulation of the high
proficiency learners are also statistically significant with
r = .221 and r = .172 respectively. By contrast, as shown in
Table 5 and 6, there are no significant correlations (p>.01)
between LA and EP of low proficiency learners including
students of Average EP and Pass EP.
Notes: **p<.01 (2-tailed); EP = English proficiency;
LA = Learner autonomy
In order to see whether there are any differences
between LA and the students’ four levels of EP (Excellent,
Good, Average and Pass), the Pearson Product Moment
Correlation is also performed with each level of EP. The
results are given in Table 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Furthermore, in order to see whether LA can predict
learners’ EP, linear regression is performed. Linear
Regression is a statistical model used to predict the value
of a dependent variable (EP) or a result variable based on
the values of at least one independent variable (LA) or the
causal variable. Since the regression model analyzes the
dependence of a variable on a single variable, this is a
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Effect of learner autonomy on English proficiency of non English major students. Learner autonomy (LA) has been considered to be one of the important goals in education. This article investigates the effect of LA on English proficiency (EP) of non-English major students. 635 Vietnamese students from five member universities of the University of Danang completed the questionnaire on LA..

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38 Ho Si Thang Kiet EFFECT OF LEARNER AUTONOMY ON ENGLISH PROFICIENCY OF NON-ENGLISH MAJOR STUDENTS Ho Si Thang Kiet The University of Danang - University of Foreign Language Studies; kiet.ho@ufl.udn.vn Abstract - Learner autonomy (LA) has been considered to be one oftheimportantgoalsineducation.Thisarticleinvestigatestheeffect of LA onEnglishproficiency(EP)of non-Englishmajorstudents. 635 Vietnamese students from five member universities of the University of Danang completed the questionnaire on LA. The collected data was comparedwith thescores of theirEnglishlanguage course. The results show that there are overall positive and significant correlations between LA and their EP. However, while there are significant correlations between LA and EP among high proficiency learners, such correlations do not exist among low proficiency learners. The results also indicate that LA can predict students’ EP. Thestudysuggests that students shouldbeaware of theimportance of LA and empowered to take charge of their own learning process to enhance their language proficiency. Also, LA may be used by university administrators to predict learners’ academic potential. Key words - learner autonomy; English proficiency; correlations; predict, learning process. 1. Introduction Since the 1970s, language teaching and learning has shifted its focus from teaching methods to learners as individuals inthe teachingand learningprocess, which was reflected in the development of language teaching methods,learningstyles andlearnerstrategies(Hall,2011). The shift from the teaching process to the learning process with a focus on learners has shaped the concept of learner autonomy, an important feature of language learners who have effective learning strategies (Valadi & Rashidi, 2014). In the globalized world, learner autonomy has become even more important as it has been considered to be one of the important educational goals (Benson and Huang, 2008). Enhancing learner autonomy is therefore a valuable and ideal goal for every educational institution because education is a means to achieve the ultimate goal, not the end means (Valadi & Rashidi, 2014). Given the importance of learner autonomy in language education, this article investigates the effect of learner autonomy on English proficiency of non-English major students. The article also examines whether learner autonomy can predict their English proficiency. 2. Theoretical background 2.1. Concept of learner autonomy The concept of learner autonomy is not a new element in the history of education. Learner autonomy (hereinafter referred to as LA), especially in the field of foreign language learning, was clearly articulated in Holec’s 1979 report for the Council of Europe (Holec, 1981). LA has been defined in different terms in relation to language learning. Various terms are used to refer to LA such as ‘self-instruction’, ‘self-assessment’, ‘self-education’, ‘out-of-class learning’ or ‘distance learning’ (Benson, 2001, p.48), but in fact they are not synonymous with the term LA. The above terms mainly describe different ways and levels of self-study, while the term LA refers to the ability and attitude in learning (Dafei, 2007). Although the terms ‘independent learning’ and ‘self-directed learning’ refer to self-study, they are often used as equivalents for LA. There is a variety of definitions about LA. LA is defined as “the ability to take charge of one’s own learning” (Holec, 1981, p.3). This means that learners have “a power or capacity to do something and not a type of conduct, behaviour” (Holec, 1981, p.3) which helps them “to have, and to hold, the responsibilityfor all the decisions concerning all aspects of this learning” (Benson, 2001, p.3). Benson and Huang (2008) state that LA is transferred from situations in which learning proceeds independently from teachers and teaching materials (Dickinson, 1987) to the learner’s capacity to take charge of one’s learning (Holec, 1981). However, Benson (2001) claims that Holec’s (1981) definition of LA is not complete as it does not mention the learner’s self-management. According to Benson (2001), LA is a multi-dimensional construct that consists of three levels of control over learning: control over learning management, control over cognitive processes and control over learning content. These three levels are inter-dependent because LA implies that the first two levels will cover the decisions relating to learning content (Benson, 2001, p.50). Borg & Al-Busaidi (2012) also claimthat LAis the learner’s abilityto closely manage their own learning process in the classroom or outside and LA in language learning refers to the learner’s close management of their language learning goals and methods. In addition, LA is also a social construct which is defined as “the competence to develop as a self-determined, socially responsible, and critically aware participant in (and beyond) educational environments, within a vision of education as interpersonal empowerment and social transformation” (JiménezRaya,LamandViera,2007,p.1). Nguyen (2010) has an operational definition of LA which consists of two basic threads of self-initiation and self-regulation. Self-initiation refers to learners’ volition and willingness to learn without being forced by other people, while self-regulation involves the metacognitive skills of planning, monitoring, and evaluating (Nguyen, 2010, p.50-51). Nguyen’s (2010) operational definition of LA describes the aspects of LA the most specifically; therefore, the present study adopts the concept of LA as a combination of self-initiation and self-regulation. 2.2. Importance of learner autonomy in education Learner autonomy plays an important role in the learning process. Dafei(2007)claims that LAisonetargetoflearning and one of the most important issues that determines whether a learner canachieve their potential or not. Little (2007) mentions three reasons accounting for the ISSN 1859-1531 - THE UNIVERSITY OF DANANG, JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, NO. 12(133).2018 39 importance of LA. Firstly, LA deals with learner’s motivation as an autonomous learner is truly motivated to meet his/her learning needs. Secondly, a motivated learner will be likely to study more efficiently and succeed more easily depending on the level of his/her LA. Thirdly, because it is impossible to develop all necessary skills for learners in the language classroom, those who have a higher degree of LA will have more opportunities to develop their communication skills than the others. With these reasons, LA is closely related to effective learning and learners with a higher degree of LA are more likely to succeed than those with a lower degree of LA or without LA (Myartawan, Latief & Suharmanto, 2013). 2.3. Learner autonomy in Asia LA was previously considered to be more appropriate in the Western educational environment than in the Asian one (Lamb, 2004). This assumption comes from the fact that Asian learners are often seen as being more passive and dependent on the teacher and therefore they have limited LA. According to Sakai, Chu, Takagi and Lee (2008), the students from Japan, Taiwan and South Korea wanted their teachers to take more control of the classroom with materials, learning methods, pace of lessons, assignments and assessments. However, these authors claim that this concern has prevented the learners from developing their LA. It is necessary that students be encouraged to take more charge of their learning process in order to enhance their LA. Some researchers claim that some teachers have succeeded in developing LA on Asian learners (Morimoto, 2006; Waikui, 2006). Compared with learners in other Asian countries, LA of Vietnamese EFL learners is generally still limited due to the fact that the learning environment tends to emphasize the teacher’srole inprovidingknowledgeand the learner-centred approach is still peripheral and underdeveloped. However, some researchers express their concern about developing LA for Vietnamese students. For example, Trinh (2005) investigates the development of LA through curriculum adaptation and innovation with tasked-based learning. Dang (2010) analyzes the situation of teaching English in Vietnam and findsthattheco-ordinationoftheattributes fromlearning resources, learners, teaching and learning practices plays an important role indevelopinglearners’ LA. In short, LA can be feasible in Asian EFL context as long as EFL teaching and learning practices are geared towards the learner-centred approach in which learners are able to take charge of their own learning process and develop their LA. 2.4. Relationship between learner autonomy and English proficiency in Asia Previous studies on English language teaching and learning in Asian countries have shown that there is a close relationship between LA and learners’ English Proficiency (hereinafter referred to as EP). Dafei (2007) investigated 129 non-English major students at a university of teacher educationinChinaand foundthattheirEP waspositivelyand significantly correlated to their LA. Sakai & Takagi’s (2009) study with 721 students from 16 universities in Japan shows that there was a significant difference on LA between three groups of students including independent users, independent learners and dependent learners. Myartawan et al. (2013) investigated 120 students of English at a state university in Bali and found that the students’ LA and EP were closely related. Two other studies with Iranian students also show their speaking and reading skills in English were positively correlated withtheir LA(Valadi &Rashidi,2014; Zafarian& Nemati, 2016). Nguyen’s (2010) study on LA in English language learning at two universities in Vietnam showed that LA wasfeasibleinVietnameseEFLcontextand mostaspects of LA were positively and significantly correlated to the learners’EP; however,thelearnersstill needmoretrainingon metacognitiveskillsofplanning,monitoringandevaluationin order to develop LA and achieve a higher level ofEP. 3. Research method The study applies the quantitative approach to investigate the effect of LA on EP of non-English major students. The non-English major students were chosen for this studybecause there has been noresearchoncorrelations between learner autonomy and English proficiency of non-English major students in Vietnam. The research sample consists of 635 Vietnamese students from five member universities of the University of Danang including University of Economics, University of Technology, UniversityofEducation, UniversityofTechnical Education, and College of Information Technology. The majority of participants are at the pre-intermediate English level. The study aims to answer the following research questions: (1) What is the effect of learner autonomy on English proficiency of non-English major students? (2) Is it possible to predict students’ English proficiency based on their learner autonomy? The study employed the questionnaire on LA (Appendix) as the research instrument, which is based on Borg and Al-Busaidi (2012) and Nguyen (2010). The questionnaire consists of two aspects of LA including students’ self-initiation, which includes their in-class and out-of-class activities, and students’ self-regulation, which involves their learning strategies of planning, monitoring and evaluation. The questionnaire consists of 25 questions designed on a 5-point Likert scale. The students completed the Vietnamese version of the questionnaire so that they can understand all the questions thoroughly. In order to ensure all the participants’ questions in the questionnaire are reliable, Cronbach’s Alpha was calculated to measure the internal reliability of the questionnaire. The result shows that the Cronbach’s Alpha of the questionnaire is .747, which is an acceptable reliability with a Cronbach’s Alpha from 0.70 and above (DeVellis, 2003). In order to calculate the correlations between LA and EP, the scores of the questionnaire on LA are compared with the students’ scores of English language course which reflect the students’ overall EP. The students’ English scores are classified into four levels of English proficiency as giveninTable 1.The four levels ofEP include Excellent (8.9%), Good (53.4%), Average (32.3%), and Pass (5.4%). The students of Excellent and Good EP belong to high 40 proficiency learners and those of Average and Pass EP belong to low proficiency learners. Table 1. The students’ levels of English proficiency Level of EP Grading in Grading in Number of Percentage number letter students Excellent 8.5 - 10 A 57 8.9 Good 7.0 - 8.4 B 339 53.4 Average 5.5 - 6.9 C 205 32.3 Pass 4.0 - 5.4 D 34 5.4 Total 635 100.0 4. Results To examine whether there is any effect of LA on the learners’ EP, the Pearson Product Moment Correlation is performed.ThePearsoncorrelationcoefficient,alsoreferredto asthePearson'sr,isameasureofthelinearcorrelationbetween twovariables.Ithasavaluebetween+1and−1,where1istotal positive linear correlation, 0 is no linear correlation, and −1 is total negative linear correlation. The results of the correlations betweenLAandEP aregiveninTable2. As can be seen in Table 2, there are positive and significant correlations at the 0.01 level (p<.01) between EP and the students’ self-initiation and self-regulation with r = .271 and r = .257 respectively. The correlation of self-initiation with EP is higher than self-regulation and the correlations between self-initiation and self-regulation are also statistically significant with r = .191, p<.01. Ho Si Thang Kiet Table 4. Correlations between LA and Good EP Good Self- Self-EP initiation regulation Good EP Pearson 1 .289** .277** Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 N 339 339 339 Self- Pearson .289** 1 .172** initiation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 LA N 339 339 339 Self- Pearson .277** .172** 1 regulation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 N 339 339 339 Notes: **p<.01 (2-tailed); EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy Table 5. Correlations between LA and Average EP Average Self- Self-EP initiation regulation Average EP Pearson 1 .099 .071 Sig(2-tailed) 160 313 N 205 205 205 Self- Pearson .099 1 .063 initiation Sig(2-tailed) 160 354 LA N 205 205 205 Self- Pearson .071 .063 1 regulation Sig(2-tailed) 313 354 N 205 205 205 Notes: EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy Table 6. Correlations between LA and Pass EP Table 2. Correlations between LA and EP EP Self- Self-initiation regulation EP Pearson 1 .271** .257** Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 N 635 635 635 Self- Pearson .271** 1 .191** initiation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 LA N 635 635 635 Self- Pearson .257** .191** 1 regulation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 N 635 635 635 Pass Self- Self-EP initiation regulation Pass EP Pearson 1 .043 .037 Sig(2-tailed) 809 834 N 34 34 34 Self- Pearson .043 1 .031 initiation Sig(2-tailed) 809 768 LA N 34 34 34 Self- Pearson .037 .031 1 regulation Sig(2-tailed) 834 768 N 34 34 34 Notes: EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy Notes: **p<.01 (2-tailed); EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy Table 3. Correlations between LA and Excellent EP Excellent Self- Self-EP initiation regulation Excellent EP Pearson 1 .358** .332** Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 N 57 57 57 Self- Pearson .358** 1 .221** initiation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 LA N 57 57 57 Self- Pearson .332** .221** 1 regulation Sig(2-tailed) 000 000 N 57 57 57 Notes: **p<.01 (2-tailed); EP = English proficiency; LA = Learner autonomy In order to see whether there are any differences between LA and the students’ four levels of EP (Excellent, Good, Average and Pass), the Pearson Product Moment Correlation is also performed with each level of EP. The results are given in Table 3, 4, 5 and 6. As can be seen in Table 3 and 4, there are positive and significant correlations at the 0.01 level (p<.01) between LA and EP of high proficiency learners. Specifically, the correlations between EP and self-initiation and self-regulation of the students of Excellent EP are r = .358 and r = .332 respectively and those for the students of Good EP are r = .289 and r = .277 respectively. The correlations between self-initiation and self-regulation of the high proficiency learners are also statistically significant with r = .221 and r = .172 respectively. By contrast, as shown in Table 5 and 6, there are no significant correlations (p>.01) between LA and EP of low proficiency learners including students of Average EP and Pass EP. Furthermore, in order to see whether LA can predict learners’ EP, linear regression is performed. Linear Regression is a statistical model used to predict the value of a dependent variable (EP) or a result variable based on the values of at least one independent variable (LA) or the causal variable. Since the regression model analyzes the dependence of a variable on a single variable, this is a ISSN 1859-1531 - THE UNIVERSITY OF DANANG, JOURNAL OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY, NO. 12(133).2018 41 simple linear regression. The results in Table 7 show that the LA coefficient has statistical significance at the 0.05 level (t = 37.056, p <.05). Therefore, it can be concluded that LA can significantly predict students’ EP. Table 7. Linear Regression between LA and EP Unstandardized Standardized coefficients coefficient B Error Beta (constant) .224 .170 1.315 .021 LA .924 .025 .827 37.056 .000* Note: *p<.05; LA = Learner autonomy; EP: English proficiency; B= Beta. 5. Discussions The resultsofthis studyshowthat there are positive and significant correlations between LA and learners’ EP as a whole. These results echo those of previous studies (Dafei, 2007; Myartawan et al., 2013; Nguyen, 2010; Sakai & Takagi, 2009; Valadi & Rashidi, 2014; Zafarian & Nemati, 2016), which offer evidence of the overall correlations between LA and EP of Asian EFL learners. However, the present study has investigated in depth the correlationsbetweentwoaspectsofLAincludingself-initiation and self-regulation and each level of EP including Excellent, Good, Average and Pass. The results show that there are significantcorrelationsbetweenLAandEPofhighproficiency learners (learners of Excellent and Good EP), while no such correlations exist among low proficiency learners (learners of Average and Pass EP). The results also show that the correlations between learners’ self-regulation and the levels of EP are always lower than those of their self-initiation. These results imply that high-proficiency learners are highly autonomous learners who are more responsible for their own learning and have better self-management of their learning insideandoutsidetheclassroom;therefore,theycanadoptmore effective learning strategies of planning, monitoring and evaluation to achieve a high level of EP. By contrast, low-proficiency learners are less autonomous learners as they lack self-management and self-regulated learning; therefore, they are morelikelytoachievealowerlevelofEP. The present study also indicates that LA can significantly predict learners’ EP, which reflects some previous studies showing the correlations between LA and learners’ language skills (Masita, 2016; Safari & Tabatabaei, 2016; Zafarian and Nemati, 2016). However, the previous studies only indicate the correlations between LA with one individual language skill such as reading, speaking, writing or listening skill, but not with learners’ overall EP as the present study did. proficiency learners, such correlations do not exist among lowproficiencylearners.Inaddition,thestudyalsoindicates that LA can predict learners’ overall EP. This means that if learners have a high degree of LA, it is very likely that they will achieve a better level of EP. This shows that LA has a great decision on learners’ academic achievement. The results of the study prove to reflect the current EFL learningsituationofnon-Englishmajorstudentsat member universities of the University of Danang. In the author’s teaching experience, low-proficiency learners of non-English majors are still dependent a great deal on the teacher’s provision of knowledge and consequently their lowdegreeofLA resultsina lowlevel ofEP. These results suggest some implications for English language teaching and learning. Firstly, it is crucial that EFL learners be informed and aware of the importance of LA to facilitate their language learning process as LA has a positive and significant effect on their EP. The more autonomous a learner is, the higher level of EP he/she can achieve. Secondly, English language teachers should engage EFL learners in a more active learning environment, inside and outside the classroom, where learners can maximize their LA. This means that EFL learners should be empowered to take more charge oftheirownlearningprocessanddevelop the ability to control their own learning in order to achieve the ultimate goal of their English learning. Thirdly, as high proficiency learners tend to be more autonomous than low proficiency learners, English language teachers should provide the latter with appropriate scaffolding based on their level of EP so that they can gradually develop LA to improve their level of EP accordingly. Fourthly, as the correlations between learners’ self-regulation and EP tends to be lower than those of their self-initiation, it is necessary that EFL learners be equipped with more effective strategies of planning, monitoring, and evaluation in English language learning in order to achieve a higher degree of LA. Last, but not least, as LA can predict learners’ overall EP, curriculum designers should develop a strong focus on LAincurriculuminnovation and LA may be used by university administrators as one of the important variables to predict learners’ academic potential. Acknowledgements: This research is funded by Funds for Science and Technology Development of the University of Danang under grant number B2017-ĐN05-08. REFERENCES [1] Benson, P. Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. Essex: Pearson Education Ltd, 2001. [2] Benson, P., & Huang, J. Autonomy in the transition from foreign language learning to foreign language teaching. D.E.L.T.A., 24 (esp.), 421-439, 2008. 6. Conclusions In today’s globalized world, LA has become one of the important goals in education in general and in English language learning in particular. This study confirms previous studiesthat AsianEFLlearnersdohave LA, thatis, LA is feasible in Asian EFL learning context. The study shows that while there are positive and significant correlations between aspects of LA and EP of high [3] Borg, S. and Al-Busaidi, S. Learner autonomy: English language teachers’ beliefs and practices. London: British Council, 2012 [4] Dafei, D. An exploration of the relationship between learner autonomy and English proficiency. Asia EFL Journal, 1-23, 2007. [5] Dang, T.T. Learner autonomy in EFL studies in Vietnam: A discussion from sociocultural perspective. English Language Teaching, 3(2), 3-9, 2010. [6] DeVellis, R. Scale development: theory and applications. Thousand Okas, CA: Sage, 2003. [7] Dickinson, L. Self-instruction in language learning. Cambridge: 42 Cambridge University Press, 1987. [8] Hall, G. Exploring English language teaching. Taylor &Francis e-Library, 2011. [9] Holec, H. Autonomy and foreign language learning. Oxford: Pergamon Press. (First published in 1979, Strasbourg: Council of Europe), 1981. Ho Si Thang Kiet 3. I observe the way my classmates speak, write or learn English so that I can learn from them. 1 2 3 4 5 4. I ask the teacher questions when I do not understand the lessons. 1 2 3 4 5 5. I volunteer first to do the tasks asked by the teacher. [10] Jiménez Raya, M., Lam, T. and Viera, F. Pedagogy for autonomy in language education in Europe: Towards a framework for learner and teacher development. Dublin, IE: Authentik, 2007. 1 2 3 4 5 6. I try to think and express my ideas in English. 1 2 3 4 5 [11] Lamb, M. “It depends on the students themselves”: independent language learning at an Indonesian state school. Language, Culture, and Curriculum, 17(3), 229-245, 2004. [12] Little D. Learner autonomy: Drawing thethreads of self-assessment, goal-setting, and reflection. Retrieved from http://archive.ecml.at/mtp2/Elp_tt/Results/PagEF/e06.html, 2007 [13] Masita, D. D. EFL students’ ability in performing autonomous learning and their writing proficiency across cognitive styles. Jurnal Pendidikan, 1(6), 1204 - 1215, 2016. [14] Morimoto, Y. “How we get hooked”-what motivated students to commit themselves so fervently into autonomous and collaborative English learning projects? In E. Skier & M. Kohyama (Eds.), Learner and teacher autonomy in Japan 2: Autonomy you ask! (pp. 113-140). Tokyo, Japan: The Learner Development Special Interest Group of the Japan Association for Language Teaching, 2006. [15] Myartawan, I.P.N.W, Latief,M.A. and Suharmanto. Thecorrelation between learner autonomy and English proficiency of Indonesian EFL college learners. TEFLIN Journal, 24 (1), 63-81, 2013. [16] Nguyen, T.C.L. Learner autonomy and EFL learning at the tertiary level in Vietnam (Doctoral thesis). Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 2010. [17] Sakai, S.,Chu,M., Takagi, A., Lee, S. Teachers’ roles in developing learner autonomy in the East Asian region. The Journal of ASIA TEFL, 5(1), 93-117, 2008. [18] Sakai, S. and Takagi. Relationship between learner autonomy and English language proficiency of Japanese learners. The Journal of Asia TEFL, 6(3), 297-325, 2009. [19] Saffari, S and Tabatabaei, O. Relationship between autonomy and listening comprehension ability among Iranian EFL learners. International Journal of Foreign Language Teaching and Research, 4 (13), 33-46, 2016. [20] Trinh, Q.L. Stimulating learner autonomy in English language education: A curriculum innovation study in a Vietnamese context. Amsterdam: unpublished thesis, 2005. [21] Valadi, Aand Rashidi, V. Howarelanguagelearners’ autonomyand their oral language proficiency related in an EFL context? International Journal of Language Learning and Applied Linguistics World, 7(1), 124-131, 2014. [22] Wakui, Y. Developed autonomy through self- and peer-assessment and reflection: Awareness and success in students’ presentation skills. In E. Skier & M. Kohyama (Eds.), Learner and teacher autonomyin Japan2:Autonomyyou ask!(pp.63-72).Tokyo,Japan: The Learner Development Special Interest Group of the Japan Association for Language Teaching, 2006. [23] Zafarian, S. E. and Nemati, A. The effect of learners' autonomy on EFL learners reading comprehension. Journal of Administrative Management, Education and Training, 12(3), 526-533, 2016. Appendix: Questionnaire on learner autonomy 1. Self-initiation Instructions: How many times a week do you do the following activities? Circle the correct number: 1 = Never (0 time/a week) 2 = Rarely (1 time/a week) 3 = Sometimes (2-3 times/a week) 4 = Often (4-5 times/a week) 5 = Always (6-7 times/a week) 1. Itryto speak as much English as possiblein pair work or group work. 1 2 3 4 5 2. I encourage my classmates to speak English so that I can practise English with them. 1 2 3 4 5 7. At the end of each lesson, I try to work out what I can do and review what I cannot do to improve my English. 1 2 3 4 5 8. I try to do all exercises in the textbook/workbook after school. 1 2 3 4 5 9. I do independent study in the library or at home. 1 2 3 4 5 10. Itryto speak English to foreign teachers at myuniversityor anyother foreigners I meet. 1 2 3 4 5 11. I make friends with people from other countries and communicate with them in English or via email. 1 2 3 4 5 12. I watch English programmes on TV (news, movies, sports, etc.) or listen to radio in English. 1 2 3 4 5 13. I use online English-learning programmes to study English. 1 2 3 4 5 14. I join English-speaking clubs (at my university or elsewhere) to practise English. 1 2 3 4 5 15. I take advantage of various learning resources such as the library, the Internet, dictionaries, etc. to improve my English. 1 2 3 4 5 2. Self-regulation Instructions: How true are these statements to you? Circle the correct number: 1 = Not true at all 2 = Slightly true 3 = Moderately true 4 = True 5 = Definitely true 16. When studying English, I establish practical goals for myself based on the course requirements and my true English level. 1 2 3 4 5 17. I have a clear plan for studying on my own. 1 2 3 4 5 18. I am good at adjusting my study plans and creating a practical study schedule based on my progress. 1 2 3 4 5 19. I make an effort to overcome emotional issues that may hinder my English studies such as lack of confidence, shyness, anxiety, and inhibition. 1 2 3 4 5 20. I can consciously employ effective learning strategies to improve my English skills. 1 2 3 4 5 21. I monitor my learning process consciously. 1 2 3 4 5 22. I am conscious of whether my learning strategy is effective or not. 1 2 3 4 5 23. If I realize my learning strategy is impractical, I quickly find a more suitable one. 1 2 3 4 5 24. While practicing English, I am able to realize my own mistakes and correct them. 1 2 3 4 5 25. I consider the teacher’s assessment criteria to judge how well I learn English. 1 2 3 4 5 (The Board of Editors received the paper on 05/11/2018, its review was completed on 25/12/2018)

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