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University Language Centre

Independent language learning

Explore what kind of learner you are and find out how this might determine how you learn and which resources you choose.

What is independent learning?

  • A major opportunity: you choose what you do, where, when and why
  • A chance to make your learning fun by choosing material which really interests you
  • You taking responsibility for your own progress and achievements
  • Working on the language skills which you particularly need to work on
  • Developing your confidence about learning new languages in the future
  • Developing your effectiveness as a learner, whatever the subject or skill
  • Making effective use of your study hours outside the constraints of lectures/seminars and set work
  • An opportunity to work constructively with friends and native speakers of the language you are learning

What it isn't

  • A lonely activity
  • Something which infringes on your leisure time
  • Being abandoned by tutors who aren't interested in your learning
  • A soft option

Managing your learning

In order to manage your own learning, you will need to think about the following questions.

  • What kind of a learner are you? Do you really know yourself? Why not try a questionnaire about your learning style?
  • Why are you learning this language?
  • What do you want to be able to achieve and by when? Why not try a questionnaire to identify your motivation styles?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • How much time are you required to spend on your language learning per week?
  • How much time are you prepared to spend on your language learning per week?
  • What resources will you need?
  • What kind of support will you need?
  • How will you stay motivated?

Needs analysis

Why not complete our needs analysis form to focus your mind on your learning needs?

Revisit your document after a year to compare how you felt at the beginning of the process to how you feel after working on your language learning in a focused manner.

Write an action plan

Keep a journal of learning activities

Students of French can use a Journal d'apprentissage de la langue française:

Keep a language learning portfolio/dossier

Other activities which will help your language learning

Engage in learning activities meaningfully: don't just passively watch some TV or scan a magazine article. You need to work on the language actively. Suggested ways of doing so are provided below.

Familiarise yourself with the resources available to you:

  • in the University Language Centre;
  • on the internet (see Online resources);
  • in the University of Manchester Library.

Assessing your progress

How will you know if you are making progress?

  • Set yourself achievable, specific goals and sub-goals so that you can 'tick' them off as you progress.
  • Maintain a language learning journal - you can track your progress.
  • After each learning activity: note what you have learnt and achieved.
  • After each activity: note what you still need to work on further and make yourself a commitment to do so.
  • Every few weeks, reflect on your learning and review your strategies.
  • Seek feedback from friends and/or your Face-to-Face partner.
  • Apply what you have learnt independently to work which is required by your lecturers/tutors and note how your performance is being enhanced.