LD Journal 6: Learner Development Beyond the Classroom
While a growing amount of attention in our field has been given to learner autonomy in recent years, much of the research tends to focus on the classroom context or formal teaching practices. In-class learning, however, is only one part of a learner’s journey. As we often work closely with individual students independent of the classroom context, we, the members of the editorial team, often see first-hand how much of a person’s development as an autonomous learner comes from learning done outside of class, or even outside of formal institutions. Educators who primarily focus on classroom teaching risk missing out on chances to appreciate the extent to which their students grow outside of their periods of direct contact.
For this issue of the LD Journal, we hope to inspire explorations of how learners grow beyond the environments that teachers are most familiar with and also encourage a holistic and ecological view of an individual’s growth, taking into account multiple parts of learners’ experiences.
Writing these accounts can provide opportunities for educators to gain insight into the processes or environments which learners use when they are not in direct contact, and which the educators might not be aware of; in turn, this can help to inform teaching practices. This can also be an opportunity for professionals who do work with students outside of classroom time (e.g., learning advisors, counselors) to illustrate relevant examples of this kind of learning.
Although learner autonomy is a major facet of this learning beyond the classroom, it is also far from being the only dimension. The dimensions which contribute to such development interconnect with each other, but other dimensions could be the basis for contributions. Reinders and Benson (2017) suggest potential directions for future research on language learning beyond the classroom in the general areas of learning settings, learning experiences and processes, and the relationship between teaching and learning beyond the classroom.
“Beyond the classroom” can also be interpreted to include any period “after the classroom.” We see that career changes in the years following formal education are becoming more commonplace in the Japanese context, and this trend highlights the importance of lifelong learning. This aspect of the theme could provide opportunities for addressing lifelong learning or for following up with former students: Do they use what they’ve learned in our classes, or how do they use what they’ve learned?
We hope that potential contributors would be interested in questions such as these:
- In what way do learners assert their autonomy in learning environments outside the classroom, and how can language teachers/practitioners support them in this development?
- How can language teachers or educational practitioners support learners in their well-being (i.e., their sense of being connected to their learning environment in a way that is congruent with their language goals), whether in terms of their subjective well-being or a more specific definition such as Seligman’s (2011) PERMA model?
- In what ways does a learner’s path of development change after leaving the classroom or formal education?
- What affordances for learning are available in a specific setting outside of formal academic institutions, and how do learners use these for their development?
- How do specific experiences of using language outside the classroom affect a learner’s identity and/or subsequent development?
- In what ways do learners change during periods of notable growth or transition?
- In what ways do learners use technology for their development outside of the classroom?
- How can teachers facilitate opportunities for learners to develop outside of the classroom?
- To what extent do learners transfer skills, processes, or beliefs learned to other learning contexts (for example, from the classroom to other contexts, or vice versa)?
- What are learners’ perspectives on learning beyond the classroom? For instance, what do they think of such learning, what do they think they can learn more effectively beyond the classroom than inside it, or what do they think is missing inside the classroom?
For this upcoming issue, we hope to work with teachers, educational practitioners such as learning advisors or professionals working in self-access centers, and learners themselves—as authors or coauthors—in formal or informal settings, at any level of education. We would also be interested in studies from teachers exploring what their students do beyond the classroom, and we enthusiastically welcome contributions involving the learning of non-English languages or those from contexts outside Japan.
Potential topics for inquiry
Contributors may choose to explore topics such as:
- Informal or formal learning environments outside of academic institutions, how learners use them, and how educators can support them in using them.
- Self-access centers or similar social learning spaces within institutions. These could be explored in terms of how learners use them, the degree of formality or informality in the learning which takes place there, or how users attain or are granted access to affordances available in the centers.
- Affordances for development unique to a given environment, and how they might connect to other aspects of students’ or users’ learning. Consideration could be given to the fact that such affordances may be positive or negative.
- The effect of physical boundaries or the passage of time on the opportunities for learning or action—or conversely, the constraints on possible action—in a given learning space. How do learners interact with such possibilities beyond the space, or does their interaction with those features change over time?
- Affinity spaces (Gee, 2005) and how learners make use of them for their development. Exploration could incorporate the use of online spaces (e.g., social media) as affinity spaces.
- The effect that teachers or practitioners (e.g., advisors) have on learners’ beliefs and strategies after a period of contact has finished (e.g., after a course or formal education).
- The ways we can use what we learn from learners’ experiences beyond the classroom as feedback to improve our own practices as educational professionals.
- Preparation for and the impact of high-stakes tests on a learner’s development beyond the classroom, as the non-classroom setting does not mean precluding the need to take such tests (Benson & Reinders, 2011).
- Learners’ experiences in study abroad settings: how they exercise their autonomy in such settings and/or how their paths change after returning.
- Specific meaningful experiences of using language outside of the classroom or periods of notable growth and transition, and how they affect learners’ subsequent development.
- Strategies and learning behaviors taken by lifelong learners after formal education has ended; how they discover or choose them, what informs their decisions, what effect they have.
- The use of technology by learners for their own development outside of a language classroom: how they learn about or choose specific technologies or strategies, and how their learning behaviors connect to their overall learning.
Several of these were inspired by suggestions made by Reinders and Benson (2017). This article or other literature may also inspire other ideas. If you have a topic related to learner development beyond the classroom that does not necessarily fit into any of the above topics, please do not hesitate to check with us by email prior to sending in a proposal.
Types of contributions
We are seeking either longer explorations (4,000-6,000 words) or shorter practice-based reviews (see below).
For longer pieces, we hope to get around 6-10 contributions. We particularly encourage writers to try exploring their writing through different approaches. This can be an opportunity to approach a topic using a methodology that is new to you. Some of the topics may lend themselves to explorations through approaches such as:
- ethnographic observation
- mixed methods
- case studies
- papers coauthored with students or incorporating student voices
- narrative inquiry
- reflexive methodology
- action research (collaborative, participatory, emancipatory)
- critical reflective practice
Practice-Based Book Reviews
We also invite proposals for book reviews of 1,500-2,500 words.
Book reviews, rather than being objective summaries of entire books, would ideally be a combination of a personal narrative, a reflection on practice, and a review of the book content. Writers may wish to highlight one portion of the book (i.e., one or more chapters or a particular section) that is particularly relevant to themselves and to their beliefs and practices in connection with learning beyond the classroom.
Potential books for review
Damasio, A. (2019). The strange order of things: Life, feeling, and the making of cultures. Vintage.
Little, D., Dam, L., Legenhausen, L. (2017). Language Learner Autonomy: Theory, Practice and Research. Multilingual Matters.
Liu, W. C., Wang, J. C. K., & Ryan, R. M. (Eds.) (2016) Building Autonomous Learners: Perspectives from Research and Practice using Self-Determination Theory. Springer.
Menegale (Ed.) (2019, originally printed in 2012). Autonomy in Language Learning: Getting Learners Actively Involved. Candlin and Mynard.
Murray (Ed.) (2014). Social Dimensions of Autonomy in Language Learning. Palgrave Macmillan.
Murray & T. Lamb (2018). Space, Place and Autonomy in Language Learning. Routledge.
Mynard, M. Tamala, & W. Peeters (Eds.) (2020). Supporting Learners and Educators in Developing Language Learner Autonomy. Candlin and Mynard.
Mynard, J. et al. (2020). Dynamics of a Social Language Learning Community: Beliefs, Membership and Identity. Multilingual Matters.
Schedule for Writing
Rather than submitting a completed draft from the outset, we are hoping that contributors will benefit from the process of gradually developing their explorations and sharing their progress with each other.
For LD Journal 6, authors will build their inquiries and/or writing in stages, sharing and discussing their work in progress within collaborative groups of authors who are focusing on related themes, receiving feedback from their fellow contributors, and revising their work in an iterative process. At later stages, contributors will receive feedback from members of the LD Journal Review Network as well as from the LD Journal Issue 6 editors.
The tentative schedule for publication is as follows:
January 15, 2021 Proposal deadline
End of February 2021 Notifications of acceptance
March & April 2021 Discussion of inquiries and plans
End of April 2021 First piece of writing: papers: 1,000-1,300 words;
practice-related reviews: 400-600 words; peer responses within groups
End of August 2021 Second piece of writing (building on, reworking, and extending the first piece): papers: 1,600-2,500 words; practice-related reviews: 900-1,200 words; peer responses within groups
Choice of blind peer or open review by LDJ Review Network members
September & October 2021 Feedback from LDJ Review Network members
January 31, 2022 Third piece of writing (building on, re-working, and extending the second piece): full draft
February & March 2022 Feedback from peers, editors, and LDJ Steering Group
April & May 2022 Finalised drafts
June-August 2022 Finalisation of all texts , including abstracts and keywords (English and Japanese, plus another language) and author bios (English and Japanese, plus another language)
September 2022 Proofreading and final checks
October 2022 Publication
Submission of Initial Proposals (Deadline January 15, 2021)
If you have any questions prior to submitting your proposal (e.g., if you would like to ask about a particular topic or methodology you have in mind), please email us at: email@example.com, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
The deadline for all proposals is January 15, 2021.
For your proposal, please include the following information in a Google Docs or Word document:
Member of JALT LD SIG? Yes/No
Indicate which type of writing you plan to do. We recommend including a brief explanation of your interest in exploring learner development beyond the classroom.
For a longer paper, write around 400 to 600 words to introduce your proposed exploration. Please include the approach you plan to take in exploring the topic, and include any concerns you have.
For a practice-related review, write around 200 to 300 words, identifying the book (and/or a section within) which you are interested in reviewing and why, focusing on the specific aspects of learning beyond the classroom, practices, and/or questions that you plan to focus on in your review.
Send your completed proposal to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We look forward to hearing from you. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Isra Wongsarnpigoon, Dominique Vola Ambinintsoa, Phillip A. Bennett, André A. Parsons, and Stuart D. Warrington
Benson, P., & Reinders, H. (2011). Beyond the language classroom. Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230306790
Gee, J. (2005). Semiotic social spaces and affinity spaces: From The Age of Mythology to today’s schools. In D. Barton & K. Tusting (Eds.), Beyond communities of practice: Language power and social context (pp. 214-232). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511610554.012
Reinders, H., & Benson, P. (2017). Language learning beyond the classroom: A research agenda. Language Teaching, 50(4), 561-578. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0261444817000192
Seligman, M. E. P. (2011) Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. Atria.