A Concept Of Learner Autonomy Education Essay

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For many years, a concept of learner autonomy has been a popular focus for discussion in language teaching. Holec was the person who first coined the term learner autonomy and defined the term as "the ability to take charge of one's own direct learning" (p.3). The concepts of learner independence and autonomy have also gained momentum within the context of language learning over the last two decades (Little, 1991). Boud (1988) stated that a fundamental purpose to education is to instill each individual with the ability to make their own decisions about what they think and do. It is also supported from outside language teaching by general educational aims and goals which help students become more independent in how they learn, think and behave (Hammond & Collins, 1991). Many language teachers have been convinced of the importance of incorporating principles of learner autonomy into their practice (Cotterall, 2000). Likewise, Tudor (1993) suggested that if teachers are to foster autonomous learning conditions, students will be able to get more benefit from the teaching and learning process, particularly in the following areas: (a) more relevant goal setting with the contributions of students, (b) more effective learning enriched with students' preferences, (c) more benefit from activities, the content of which decided by students, (d) more efficient study program with more student involvement. He also stated that learner-centeredness is not a method, nor might it be decreased to a set of rules. It is, however, an approach, which views students to have more active and participatory roles in the learning and teaching process than in traditional approaches. Additionally, this approach requires different classroom activities, the structures of which are decided by students themselves resulting in increases in students' involvement and motivation. There is also a change in the teacher's role in learner-centered classrooms. The teacher is less likely to dominate classroom events in contrast to traditional classrooms where the learning environment is teacher-centered and teachers are considered as authorities.

Nunan (1996) also found that there are two complementary aims of learner-center. One of them focuses on language content, the other focuses on learning process. To achieve these two aims, learners need to decide what and how they want to study at their own pace, and make a decision regarding their own language competence. Thus, it is the teacher's duty to create such autonomous learning conditions in which students can acquire skills and knowledge while making choices about the process and content of their learning.

In brief, developing and promoting autonomous learning are vital as the aim of all education is to help people think, act and learn independently in relevant areas of their lives. In this respect, developing and fostering autonomy in language learning and teaching will require effective strategies, self-awareness to improve motivation and willingness to take charge of learning.

Emergence and popularity of English language in Cambodia.

The English language is the most widely used language throughout the world. Crystal (1997) claimed that the English language gains its popularity in the world due to political, military and economic power. In Cambodia, because of local and international business, international non-governmental organizations, job requirements, consumerism, computers and mass media, young people are strongly encouraged and highly motivated to learn English as a foreign language (Narith, 2008). Moreover, an English curriculum was also introduced into secondary schools and high schools by the Cambodian Ministry of Education throughout country in 2000. It has also been considered as the leading foreign language in the country (Sam, Ahmad & Hazri, 2012). Additionally, after Cambodia became a member state of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 1999, English became the language of choice of many more Cambodian students because it is the official and working language of ASEAN (ASEAN, 2007).

Looking back in time, English language was used for some purposes during the period of Cambodian Republic Regime (1970 - 1975), but thereafter, English was completely banned during the Genocidal Regime of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge. In 1993, for the first National Election in Cambodia, English language emerged again with the arrival of United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) (Narith, 2008). Since then, the popularity of the English language has gradually grown among the Cambodian people. One of the reasons for this is as Igawa (2008) argued, communicative competence in English can mean a better job and better pay for Cambodians.

In the Cambodian higher education sector too, English has become the dominant language. According to Clayton (2006), most Cambodian academics and administrators at higher education institutions such as the Royal University of Law and Economic (RULE), the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), and the National University of Management (NUM), have seized every chance to change French instruction into English instruction because they believed that English language skills play a key role in improving and enhancing students' learning, communication, employment opportunities, and scholarship opportunities abroad. In addition, Cambodian university students have put more value on studying English than other languages. For instance, when the RUPP and RULE made their new language policies which allowed students to choose their own foreign language options, 80% of RUPP's students selected English and 84% of RULE's students chose English.

Autonomous learning in English language in Cambodia.

Although the English has become the most wide spread foreign language in Cambodian, the way that it is learnt often reflects Cambodian cultural values rather than language learning strategies that are commonly used in many parts of the world. Concerning the style of learning, conformity is considered more important than the freedom of expression from the majority of Cambodian learners' perspective. This attitude does not provide the strong basis for development for autonomous leaning and self-accessing language resources (Jones, 1995). Additionally, Cambodian students culturally seem to be respectful, obedient, and passive towards their teachers, the style which has been encouraged by teacher-center approach and culture (Ravascol, 2007).

However, in 2000, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) began to introduce the important concept of "Child Friendly Schools (CFS)" and adopt new "student-centered" teaching and learning methods as a means to improve enrolment and performance of students in primary school (MoEYS, 2007). Following the emergence of the student-center approach in Cambodia over the last ten years, the roles of teacher and students have been gradually changing in the modern classroom. Students have been given more possibilities to actively engage in discovering and constructing new knowledge through a wide range of meaningful projects and activities and to participate in collaborative work with their teachers and fellow students. The student-center method has also enabled students to acquire other strategies and techniques which help them develop active and critical thinking skills in their learning process (Nith, Wright, Hor, Bredenburg, & Singh, 2010). Similarly, since learners following the student-center approach have been viewed as one of key players and the main source of information in the learning process, the practice of learner autonomy has begun to grow in language learning and teaching (Benson, 2001).

This study will take place in a Phnom Penh language school (C school) which is for adult English learners and where teachers try to implement the learner-center method in each small class accommodating approximately 20 to 25 students.

Statement of the Problem

With this novel concept of learner autonomy, students in Cambodia and particularly in the C school, are expected to take more responsibilities to demonstrate a great deal of autonomy in their language learning process in order to succeed academically.

However, as a practicing teacher at the C school providing English language courses, the researcher has noticed that many teachers have suffered from investing endless amounts of energy in their students and getting very little response. Most teachers have become frustrated with groups of students who never did their homework, who were reluctant to use the target language in pair or group work, who did not listen to each other, who did not learn from their mistakes, who did not use opportunities to learn outside the classroom, and so on. These reveal that students are being heavily dependent on their teacher and not making efforts in their learning. Moreover, most of them are not likely to be aware of their roles in their learning process, and particularly they lack learning strategies to enable them to excel in their language performance. Regarding this issue, students make slow progress in their learning, performing poorly, thereby affecting their ultimate achievement in English language learning (Jones, 1995). And to the best of our knowledge, there is little research conducted on assessing learner autonomy in Cambodian EFL context. Thus, the aim of the present work is to identify learners' perspectives about their learning responsibly and their actual practice of learner autonomy in C school.

Research Questions

The study on the current practice of learner autonomy is aimed at answering two questions below in order to meet the objectives.

1. How do the level seven students at the C school perceive their own and their teachers' responsibilities in learning English?

2. To what extent are autonomous learning strategies (inside and outside the classroom) used in learning English by ESL learners at C school?

Significance of the Study

As mentioned above, there is little literature about language autonomous learning in Cambodia context. Therefore, this study will be expected to provide empirical support for the identification of factors considered to be significant for the promotion of autonomy in foreign language classrooms and examines the claims made in language learning literature about each of these factors. By exploring them, teachers will also construct a shared understanding of the essential foundation of learner autonomy and obtain considerable insights into what roles they have to play in order to facilitate learner autonomy. Furthermore, it will be able to increase learners' awareness of how to be in charge of their own learning and inform the learners which learning strategies that they need to learn more and apply in their learning process. Similarly, it will help learners change their behavior by encouraging them to take responsibility for their own language learning, to change their attitudes towards the English class, and to deal with their foreign language learning problems. And finally, it may serve as a preliminary idea for any interested researchers in the area.

Chapter Two

Literature Review

To obtain literature for this study, the researcher reviewed both international and national literature review. The literature for this study was found from the Hun Sen Library of the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP), and by using the websites of Asian EFL Journal, Cambridge, Google Scholar, and Oxford to identify relevant books, journals and articles focusing on Autonomous learning in English language. Other reviews was obtained from numerous articles and the list of references by several well-known scholars such as, Beson, Gardner, Holec, Lee, Little ,Tudor and Wenden. These scholars are long established writers in this field and have written and conducted many researches about this area. The key words used to identify the articles are Lerner Autonomy, Learner Responsibility, Self-regulated Learner, Self-access Learner, and Lerner Motivation.

This chapter will deal with the definition of concepts and terms related to learner autonomy in foreign language teaching and learning. It will also refer to the previous research studies conducted in Cambodia and abroad on promoting learner autonomy in language classrooms.

Cambodian Literature on Learning Processes

In the past fifteen years, there has been a growing literature on Cambodian style of leaning. Overall, the literature indicates that traditional Cambodian styles of leaning continue to be influential (Bit, 1991; Chandler, 1998; Jones, 1995; & Ravascol, 2007).

The traditional classroom, as it is commonly practiced, is mainly focused on a teacher-centered approach offers few opportunities to students to engage in their learning, because most often the teacher plays a crucial role as a knowledge transmitter to students. Moreover, there is little interaction among teachers and students. The teacher usually spends a great deal of time speaking and explaining in the class; while students are required to sit passively and listen to the teacher attentively (Ravascol, 2007). Van Lier (as cited in Ravascol, 2007) also stated that teachers in traditional Cambodia classrooms believed that their main duty and activity was to transfer their knowledge to the students, so they would allow interaction in the classrooms to happen only in examinations or quizzes where students just had to answer the specific questions given to them. Within the context of language teaching, teachers have initiative to frame question and afterwards give feedback to students.

Culture has also had a great impact on Cambodian students regarding to the style of learning. Bit (as cited in Ravacol, 2007) stated that because Cambodian society heavily emphasized on acceptance of the given order as the path to a satisfying existence, it did not encourage original thought focused on either personal development or innovation in the society at large. This was why we generally found Cambodian learners in a school environment of conformity rather than in a competitive search for knowledge and competency. Ponchaud (1977) further added that the rule of conduct in society always prevented students from behaving differently from others, or from pushing themselves forward. It also discouraged students from taking the initiative, for fear of finding themselves alone, disgracing themselves in front of others, being derided for possible failure, and being judged. Moreover, Bit (1991) found that teachers were respected as leaders whose roles were something similar to parental roles. Their proper roles as leaders were to explain and clarify what were expected of people. The leaders never drew out suggestions or involvement by the followers in searching for alternatives. He further added that the teachers' relation to their students, like so many relationships in Cambodian society, were hierarchical and imbalanced. The teachers were typically considered as parents who bestowed, transmitted, and commanded. Whereas, students were usually treated as children who received, accepted, and obeyed. There was no change in the transmission process, except perhaps in the ignorance of the student. (Bit 1991; Chandler 1998)

What Is Learner Autonomy?

The definition of learner autonomy seems to be interpreted in many different ways. Holec (1981) was the person who first coined the term learner autonomy and defined the term as "the ability to take charge of one's own direct learning" (p.3). Dickinson (1995) characterized autonomous learners as those who are capable of being independent and active in the learning process. While, Higgs (1988) viewed it as "a process, in which the learner works on a learning task or activity and largely independent of the teacher who acts as manager of the learning programme and as resource person" (p.41). In fact, learners accomplishment of autonomy relies on a various factors such as, learners' ability to take responsibility, personal constructs, availability and flexibility in learning environment, teacher support, and peer support, (Little, 1990; McDevitt, 1997; Lee, 1998). Even though there is a slightly different interpretation of learner autonomy, those meanings may contribute to the understanding deeply of the term.

According to Benson and Voller (1997), there are five categories of the term learner autonomy, including a process where learners study completely on their own, a set of knowledge and skills in which can be acquired and applied in self-access learning, an innate ability to learn language which is suppressed by institution of education, the learners' responsibility for their own learning, and the right to determine their own direction in learning.

However, there is also a great deal of misconceptions about the definition of autonomous language learning. Esch (1996) stated that autonomy is not self-instruction or learning without a teacher, does not mean that initiative or invention on the part of a teacher is forbidden, is not something teachers do to learners, is not a single easily identifiable behavior, and is not a fixed process attained by learners once and for all.

Why Learner Autonomy?

In fact, the cultivation of learner autonomy is a long process. Teacher should help students develop gradually from teacher dependence to autonomy. As an old English saying goes "if you give a man a fish, you feed him a day; if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a life time". Moreover, old English saying "you can bring the horse to water, but you cannot make him drink" can clearly illustrate why we need learner autonomy in teaching learning process. In language learning, a teacher can create favorable environment and offer all the necessary tools and input to students, but learning can only occur if learners are willing to get involved and participate (Scharle & Szabo, 2000). Further, Scharle and Szabo (2000) stated that learners can be successful in learning when they have a responsible attitude. Therefore, we can understand that learners need a great deal of responsibility and active involvement in conducting learning activities in order to accomplish tremendous achievement in language learning and they constantly reflect on what they are learning, why they are learning, and with what degree of success; and their learning is fully integrated with the rest of what they are.

Characteristics of Autonomous Learners

Thanassoluas, (2007) found that Autonomous learning can be achieved by certain conditions such as using cognitive and metacognitive strategies, learner attitudes and motivation, self-esteem, and learners' awareness and knowledge about language learning. Therefore, autonomous language learners have to be responsible for all decisions that they have to make in their own learning and be self-directed in the sense that they act independently of the teacher without remaining passive or waiting to be told what to do from teachers. According to Hedge (2000) characterized autonomous learners as those who:

are aware of their needs and work effectively with the teacher towards the achievement of their objectives.

study both inside and outside the classroom and know how to make use of resources autonomously.

are able to take classroom based material and manage to build on it and adjust and adapt their learning strategies when necessary to better learning.

learn by thinking actively and manage and divide the time in learning properly.

do not consider the teacher as a god who can offer them ability to master the language.

Further, Wenden (1991) also characterized autonomous learners as those who:

are willing and possess the capacity to control or supervise learning.

are willing to take risks and form and reject hypothesis.

select material, methods and tasks and chose the criteria for evaluation .

exercise purpose and choice in organizing and performing the chosen task.

are motivated to learn and take an active approach to the task.

pay attention to both form and content and are good guessers.

The Role of Teachers and Students to Promote Learner Autonomy

Holden and Usuki (1999) who questioned Japanese students' perceptions of learner autonomy concluded that it was not learners who were innately passive, but it was teachers that created an environment which discouraged learner autonomy. Moreover, they also concluded that the vast majority of students view their instructor as playing a major role in the development of their language skills.

However, they stress that learner autonomy, is not something that teachers do to learners, or another teaching method that can be taught (Little ,1990; Benson, 2001). Also, Dickinson (1987) stated that learners are entirely responsible for all of their own decisions concerning with learning and implementation of those decisions. There is no involvement of an institution or a teacher in a full learner autonomy. And learners are also independent of specially prepared materials. For instance, the early research on language learning strategies carried out by such researchers as Rubin (1975) indicated that good learners have an active involvement with language learning, that they have clear ideas about the best ways for them to go about language learning, and that they set up their own learning objectives. Nevertheless, this research has no strong reason to support that autonomous learning requires teachers or institutions, does not mean that it must be proceeded independently.

Even there is a contradiction between the role of the teacher and the learner in promoting learner autonomy, McCarthy (2000) argued that, in developing learner autonomy, the teacher-student relationship is crucial. The trust and cooperation between the teacher and the students makes the students feel comfortable and secure in the classroom. Only then can the students have the confidence to adventure in language learning. Benson and Vollers (1997) study also found that teachers play a major role in leading learners to self-access learning and in helping them to stay afloat. In this investigation, they found that there is a great change for both teachers and learners. Teachers are no longer in their dominant position as speakers in class while learners are not passive receivers any more. However, it does not necessarily mean teachers are less important. On the contrary, the teachers' job is more demanding and challenging in helping students grow up as creative and independent learners. Teachers must focus their attention on how to learn instead of how to teach. They must play different role in class as guides, facilitators and counselors. Therefore, adjusting the teacher's and student's roles, and establishing proper relationship are the keys to the success in promoting autonomous learning (Benson & Vollers, 1997).

Language Learning Strategies

There are a number of researchers who have defined the term language learning strategies (LLS) in different ways. According to Wenden (1991), LLS was defined as, mental steps or a process in which learners use to study a new language and to regulate and maintain their efforts in studying that new language. O'Malley and Chamot (1990) defined LLS as the special behaviors or thought that each individual use to help them learn, comprehend or retain new information. By understanding various definitions from different researchers, we can see that learning strategies are very important in learning a language. Similarly, Cotterall (1999) indentified language learning strategies as one of the most important factors in autonomous language learning. Therefore, all students have to be trained on how to use them appropriately in order to be successful learners.

Hedge (2000) found that there are four types of learning strategies utilized by language learners, including cognitive strategies, meta-cognitive strategies, socio-affective strategies, and communication strategies.

Cognitive strategies.

Hedge (2000) defined cognitive strategies as thought processes used directly in learning which enables learners to deal with the information presented in tasks and materials

by working on it in different ways. According to Tudor (1996), cognitive strategies include some strategies like:

Repetition: repeating a piece of language (a word or phrase) in the course of using language and completing language task.

Summarization: Making a written or mental summary of language and information presented in a task.

Note taking: Writing down key concepts and words in abbreviated verbal, numerical or graphical form to improve performance of language tasks.

Elaboration: Relating new information to existing knowledge; relating different parts of new information to each other; making meaningful personal associations to information presented.

Translation: expressing ideas from one language to another language in a relatively verbatim way.

Meta-cognitive strategies.

According to Oxford (1990), metacognitive strategies are actions which go beyond purely cognitive devices, which provide a way for learners to coordinate their own learning process. He also mentioned that there are three metacognitive strategies such as centering learning, arranging and planning learning, and evaluating learning. Moreover, Tudor (1996) also states that metacognitive strategies consist of planning, monitoring and evaluating; some of these strategies are:

Planning: previewing the organizing principle or concept of an predictable learning task (advance organization); proposing strategies for dealing with an upcoming task; making a plan for main ideas, the parts, sequence, or language functions to be used in a performing task (organizational planning).

Self-management: being aware of the conditions that help one successfully achieve language tasks and arranging for the presence of those conditions controlling one's language performance to maximize use of what is already known.

Self-evaluation: examining the outcomes of one's own language performance against an internal measure of accuracy and completeness and checking one's language repertoire, ability to perform the task, or strateg use.

Problem identification: unambiguously indentifying the essential point needing resolution in a task or noticing an aspect of the task that hamper its successful completion.

Thus, it is very essential to teach students about metacognitive strategies in order to make their language learning effectively.

Socio-affective strategies.

According to Oxford (1990), the term affective strategies refer to emotion, motivation, attitudes, and values. He claimed that affective strategies are concerned with the affective elements of the learners such as self-esteem, attitudes, confidence, motivation, and anxiety. He also suggested that there are three main sets of affective strategies: lowering your anxiety, encouraging yourself, and taking your emotional temperature. While Tudor (1996) suggested some of the affective strategies are:

Questioning for clarification: asking for explanations, rephrasing, verification, or examples about the material; asking for clarification or verification about the task; posing questions to the self.

Self-talk: Lowing anxiety by using mental techniques that enable one to feel competent to perform learning tasks.

Self-reinforcement: Giving personal motivation by arranging and providing rewards for one self when a language activity has been successfully completed.

Cooperation: cooperatively working with peers to handle a problem, check a learning task, pool information, model a language activity, or receive feedback on written and oral performance.

Therefore, good language learners should be aware of how to control their attitudes and emotions about learning (Oxford 1990).

Communication strategies.

According to Hismanoglu (2000), communication strategies are employed by speakers when confronted with some difficulties because of the fact that their communication was misunderstood or was not caught clearly. Hedge (2000) also stated that learners use communication strategies in order to make them understood and to maintain a conversation; these strategies contain gesture, mime, synonym, and paraphrases. The significance of these strategies is to help learners get involved in conversations when they practice the language and to assist learners in getting their message across or clarify what the speaker conveyed.

Learner beliefs

Benson and Voller (1997) stated that language learning is not only a cognitive task and the learner does not only reflect on his or her learning regarding to the language input to which she or he is exposed. Rather, the success of learning activities is partially contingent upon a learner's stance towards the world and the learning activities in particular, his or her sense of self, and their desire to learn. That is, language learning involves affective elements such as attitude, motivation and self-esteem. Also, Chan (2001) stated that increasing of the level of learner control will result in growth of the level of self-determination and promoting overall motivation in the development of learner autonomy. Therefore, learners need to be self-directed and to determine the direction of their own language learning process.


The term attitudes refer to "learned motivations, value beliefs, evaluations, what one believes is acceptable, or responses oriented towards approaching or avoiding" (Wenden, 1998, pp, 52-53). There are two kinds of attitudes which are crucial: learners' attitudes toward their role in the learning processes, and their capability in learning as effective learners. Thus, it appears that if learners have positive attitudes towards their learning, then those attitudes will play an important role in increasing learners' motivation, and contribute to their achievements in learning.


In educational context, many researchers or experts have defined the term motivation differently. So there is little agreement on the exact meaning of the term. According to Dornyei (2001) the father of motivational strategies, the term motivation refers to a keen, committed, and enthusiastic learner who has good reasons for learning. "Motivation explains why people decide to do something, how hard they are going to pursue it and how long they are willing to sustain the activity" (Dornyei, 2001, p.7). Furthermore, according to Gardner and Macintyre (1993) indicate that motivation consist of three elements, including desire to accomplish a goal, effort extended in this direction and satisfaction with the task. Indeed, people are motivated in various ways and different degrees. And learners should encourage focusing more on their intrinsic motivation because it emerges with the inner drive or interest of the learners in doing something which they can sustain their motivation longer. Therefore, motivation is a key factor that contributes to the success of language learning. If learners are more aware of the importance of motivation, then they will be more likely to achieve their desire goals or outcomes.


Indeed, attitudes and motivation are the concept of self-esteem (Thanasoulas, 2007). James (1983) defines self-esteem as a ratio found by dividing one's achievements in areas of life of importance to a given individual by the failures in them or one's success. Branden (2001) stated that self-esteem is the combination of self-respect (a feeling of personal worth) and self-confidence (a feeling of personal capacity). Once learners have a high self-esteem, then, they may achieve highly in their learning process. Conversely, if they have a low self-esteem, then it can lead to negative attitudes towards their learning, possibly deteriorate their cognitive perform and lowering their success (Wenden, 1991). Likewise, self-esteem refers to beliefs about their possession of the capability to accomplish a task. Learners' self-esteem has been shown to be positively correlated with the tendency of engaging in more self-regulatory activities and demonstrating greater intrinsic interest in their studies (Miller, Behrens, Greene, & Newman 1993).

In conclusion, the review of literature indicates that autonomous learning is indispensable for effective language learning which will enable language learners to develop more responsibilities for their own learning. Therefore, most of the relevant research studies stress the importance of promoting learner autonomy in language classrooms. Some of them have revealed that learners' believe and responsibility is a key to autonomous learning. Moreover, some studies have found that there is strong relationship between autonomy and culture, style of teaching and learners' motivation, strategies in and out-of-class learning, etc. Additionally, Most of the autonomy studies in various contexts highlight the importance of changing teacher-dependent learning habits, increasing learners' motivation, and use of effective learner strategies throughout development of autonomous learning in language classroom.

Chapter Three


In this chapter, methodological details of the study will be presented. The first section will illustrate the overall research design of the proposal. The second section will describe about a site, a sample size and a sample technique of the study. The third section will explain about data collection instruments. In the fourth, the details regarding the data collection process will be addressed. Finally, the fifth section will demonstrate the ethical consideration.

Research Design

The research will be conducted in the form of a case study. To meet the research objectives and answer the research questions, the researcher will adopt both quantitative and qualitative methods. In quantitative method, the researcher will utilize self-administered questionnaires in order to describe the current practice of autonomous learning by level seven students at the C school. By using this method, it will also assist to illustrate the fundamental problems that challenge the practice. The method will be suitable in attempting to describe the attitudes, opinions, behaviors, or characteristics of a sample or the entire population (Creswell, 2009 & Kurma, 1996). Additionally, qualitative method will be employed. The researcher will include cross-sectional studies using focus group interviews for second data collection aims at generalizing from a sample to the population (Creswell, 2005, 2009, in press).

Sample of the Study

The C school will be selected to be a site for this study because it is not only accessible but also practical. There are several reasons for choosing this site as a target of study. First, this school has implemented a student-center method into classrooms in order to promote autonomous language learning. Hence, it will be interesting to find out students' actual practices and perceptions toward this style of learning. Secondly, there are adequate students to constitute a sufficient sample size. Thirdly, this school is convenient because the researcher will spend less time traveling and have easy access to the school as the researcher is a part-time staff there (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007).

The target populations of this study will be Level seven students whose levels are pre-intermediate. The sample of 80 students of the entire population (about 1000 variety of students) will be chosen purposively to complete the questionnaires. This is a good sample because it will be accurate 19 times out of 20 (Blalock, 1979). The researcher will also consider about participants' gender, age, shifts, classes (full or part-time) and achievement of their study. Besides, 8 to 12 students will also be selected purposively to involve in the two focus group discussions and there will be four to six students per group (Morgan, 1988). The researcher will work with his assistants (participants' teachers) to invite and identify good representatives of questionnaire participants to participate in the two focus groups.

The researcher will intend to choose a non-probabilistic purposive sampling procedure for the study because, as its name suggests, it ensures that all the level seven students at the C school are represented (Dawson, 2007). Also, it will be easy to conduct and the participants will be available and voluntary to participate in the study. And yet, the sampling may fail to represent the whole population and may not be generalizable as it is purposely and shamelessly selective and biased (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007).

Data Collection Tools

Chamot (2004) suggested that appropriate methods in conducting this kind of the study need to be utilized. Those recommending research tools in data collection are focus groups, interviews and questionnaires. Also, these methods will help the researcher to ensure the reliability and validity and assist him to conduct the study in an ethical and feasible manner (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).


The questionnaires will be the first data collection tool used to obtain descriptive and frequencies data of the study and participants will spend from 20 to 30 minutes to complete them. The researcher will employ the questionnaires because questionnaires can be used to gather information from a large number of respondents highly and efficiently (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007). Moreover, they will be able to be administered with or without presence of the researcher and be easy to analyze with many computer software packages (Dörnyei, & Taguchi, 2010; Wilson & Mclean, 1994). In addition, nearly everyone will be familiar with questionnaires and able to complete them in inapprehensive way. In general, uniform questions in questionnaires will also reduce bias as there will be no verbal or visual clue to influence the participants to answer questions in a certain manner. Nevertheless, the researcher will need to invest great amount of time to develop, pilot, and refine questionnaires and data collected may lack of flexibility of responding (Wilson & Mclean, 1994). The rate of return will also become one of major concerns when the researcher uses this data collecting instrument (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).

The self-administered questionnaires will be utilized so that the participants will have a choice to complete questionnaires either in the presence or in the absence of research administrators. If the participants decide to fill in the questionnaire in their presences, the research administrators can provide more clarification and additional time to participant to complete their questionnaires. Also, they can make sure that all items in questionnaires will be totally completed. On the other hand, if participants want to complete questionnaires elsewhere (at homes or workplaces) the research administrators will allow the participants to complete the questionnaire in private and to spend as much time as they want. Furthermore, they will be able to maximize high rate returned questionnaires with good and more honest responses (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007).

Focus group discussions.

In order to verify the data gathered from the questionnaires and to make the data more enriched and valid, the researcher will use two focus group discussions consisting of four to six students per group as a second data collection tool for this study. The two focus groups will also enable the researcher to know whether outcomes of the each group discussions are similar or different and make the focus group discussions much more dynamic and representative (Mogan, 1988).Each focus discussion will last approximately 30 to 45 minutes. By using focus group discussions, the researcher will also be able to explore more insights in some particular areas found from the results of the questionnaires and can cross check and probe more information about the study (Creswell, 2009). Moreover, the focus groups will offer a collective view rather than an individual view and it will be economical and less time-consuming (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007). Besides, they will create relaxed, secure and natural setting where participants are encouraged to share both positive and negative comments (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998). However, focus groups may yield the data less than the survey questionnaires and the data may lack overall reliability as group disagreements and even conflicts may arise. Additionally, the quality of the data that is collected will depend on the skill of the facilitator to motivate and maintain control over the group discussion and to transcribe or take notes where there are a number of voices (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998; Creswell, 2009) Also, Data obtained from focus groups will be difficult to analyze concisely (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007).

Semi-structured questions will be used and there will be five or six guided and open-ended questions designed for the focus group discussions. The semi-structured questions will assist the researcher to know specific and reliable information which can be compared or contrasted with information gathered from the previous questionnaire and another focus group (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006; Dawson, 2007). They also allow participants to have a freedom to express their views in their own terms (Cohen & Crabtree, 2006). Moreover, they make the questions to be flexible so that other important questions can still arise (Dawson, 2007).

All items in both the questionnaires and the focus groups will be piloted by eight intended participants and a supervisor in order to increase validity, reliability and practicality of each question (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998; Wilson & Mclean, 1994). Additionally, all items will be translated into participants' native language (Khmer language) so that participants will be able to express their views comfortably and freely. Then, the data will be transcribed and translated into English afterward.

Data Collection Process

The research administrators will send first invitations attached with consent papers to invite and inform each student about natures and purposes of the research and how data will be used anonymously and confidentially. The consent papers will also notify participant of their rights and detail of participation in questionnaires and focus groups. If the students volunteer to participate they have to sing on consent papers and put those papers in research box which will be placed in front of the C school library.

A separate piece of second invitation will be attached to each questionnaire. This piece of second invitation will recruit participants for focus group interviews and it will require contact information of the participant. The research administrators will also explain students about this second invitation used for focus group interview which will be held at a particular time and this is a voluntary participation. They can reject or agree with the second invitation and it will not affect the results of questionnaires. If they are not willing to participate in focus groups, they can keep it blank, but if they agree to participate, they are required to write down their contact detail information such as name, sex, phone number, e-mail address, and name of their class teacher because these are the necessary information which the researcher can contact and invite them to join in focus group interviews. When they finish filling the questionnaire, they are asked to put the second invitations in a separate box from questionnaire so that their questionnaire will be anonymous.

The self-administered questionnaires will be distributed to the participants by research administrators (the researcher, assistants and their teachers). If the participants decide to fill in the questionnaire in their presences, the research administrators will avoid creating potential threats, placing pressure and causing uncomfortable feeling and any influences on participants. The research administrator will also expect that participants may also need some clarification and extra time to complete their questionnaires, so the research administrators will be friendly, patient and helpful to work with them. In addition, the research administrators will ensure that each participant will completes all items in questionnaire correctly by scanning quickly to only check that all sections of questionnaires are completed before they finally receive the questions. On the other hand, if participants want to complete questionnaires elsewhere (at homes or workplaces) the research administrators will reassure them that it will be always convenient and available for the research administrators to address any queries or problems that the participants may have.

There will be 8 to 12 participants invited purposely to participate in the two focus groups. The researcher will work with their assistants who are participants' teachers to identify and select variety of students regarding to age, sex, shifts, classes (full-time or part-time) and educational background in order to make good a representation of the study. The participants will be students who are the respondents in the previous instruments. The discussion will be conducted in the C school in order to allow the participants to express their ideas freely. To employ focus group successfully, the researcher will use his facilitation, management and communication skills to harmonize the group discussion. There may be some disagreements and even conflicts existing. Hence, the researcher will works hard to establish a favorable environment where everyone feels pleased and comfortable with group process by avoiding sensitive questions and being as flexible and adaptive as possible. Moreover, one or two participants in the group may dominate the whole group discussion intentionally or unintentionally; voices of the other participants may be denied, so the researcher will control dominant individual, encourage equal discussion and balance the contribution. Also, the researcher will remain conscious of time and respect each participant's contribution regardless of their background, experiences and education (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998).

Ethical Considerations

The researcher will get formal approval from the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) and official permission from the C school and participants prior to conducting this study (Kemmis & Mc Taggaart, 1992). In addition, the researcher will be honest and open to inform each participant about natures and purposes of the research. Particularly, the researcher will ask participants to read and sign on consent papers which are attached with invitation papers. All the participants will be invited to participate willingly and voluntarily without being coerced or tricked, and they will have a right to discontinue at any time in this research. Participant will also be well informed about process of participation in this research. Moreover, the researcher will show great respect for the participants' privacy and time. For instance, the questionnaire will not be administered before or during their class but at the end of their class and participants will be allowed to take the questionnaire to their homes or workplaces to complete and bring it back to the research administrators tomorrow or the following day and the research will ask for special permission from the focus group participants to record their voices. Besides, the researchers will be glade and will not hesitate to clarify any questions which may arise (Anderson & Arsenault, 1998). Also, the researcher will keep all the participants' names anonymous and confidential. Particularly, the participants will not be required to put their name in questionnaires and those mentioned in focus group will be addressed as Student 1, Student 2, Student 3, and so on (Cohen, Manion & Morrison, 2007).