Learner Autonomy and Vocabulary Development for Female Learners of English as a Foreign Language at a College Level in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
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This dissertation examines how English language learners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) realize learner autonomy, especially in the context of the learner’s meaning development via purposeful vocabulary acquisition. This project is a qualitative case study that engages both teachers and English learners as subjects over a prolonged period of time, examining their teaching and learning practices, agentive roles in language development, and strategies in accessing and developing meaning. It investigates EFL students’ perceptions and applications of autonomous learning strategies for the purpose of English vocabulary development, as well as their adapted methods for learning English. This research draws on a social constructivist framework and transformative learning theory, both of which approach the learner as an agentive self and in the sociocultural context of language learning. Data collection took place at the Female University Campus in the KSA. It includes face-to-face semistructured interviews of 8 students and 6 teachers from two different classrooms, classroom observations (of the 8 students and 2 of the 6 teachers), and audio recordings of instructional practices. It also examines the student participants’ reflections on specific English coursework and English learning autobiographies. The findings reveal that the implementation of autonomous learning is a significant factor in students’ intrinsic engagement and motivation to develop vocabulary knowledge. The findings also confirm the students’ appreciation of the English language and showed how various autonomous learning methods developed their sense of self-possession. This study aims to offer guidance to language teachers and researchers who advocate for learner autonomy theory and innovative classroom practices. It recommends new strategies for cultivating learner autonomy in English education, both in the KSA classroom and elsewhere.