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TEFL Masterclass – Learner Independence: Promoting Metacognition in EFL Lessons

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André Hedlund – Chevening Alumnus & Lecturer, Reviewer for National Geographic Learning.

André Hedlund is a Chevening Alumnus, MSc Psychology of Education – University of Bristol, Educational Consultant, Speaker, and Guest Lecturer on Bilingualism and Cognition in Postgraduate courses. He currently works as an Edify Bilingual Program Mentor and as a member of BRAZ-TESOL’s Mind, Brain, and Education SIG. He blogs at

What you will learn

Self-directed students who are able to set and stick to goals are probably every teacher’s dream.

However, not everyone can achieve this on their own. Is there anything teachers can do to help their learners to study more independently?

This workshop will look at a few ideas that might promote a sense of ownership when it comes to students’ learning process.

We will discuss metacognition, how it can be woven into your lesson design, and focus on regulation strategies that are helpful in creating more successful study routines as well as self-study.

Workshop Summary

Introduction to Learner Independence and Metacognition

Andre Hedlund presents a masterclass for gallery teachers, focusing on fostering learner independence and metacognition in ESL classes. The session aims to explore these concepts and their interconnectedness. Learner independence is defined as the ability of learners to take control of their educational journey, emphasising autonomy and self-direction. This approach has been shown to increase student engagement, achievement, and satisfaction, fostering intrinsic motivation.

Influences and Frameworks in Education

The significance of active learning and student participation is highlighted, drawing on insights from educational theorists like Paulo Freire, Sir Ken Robinson, and Sugata Mitra. Freire critiqued traditional education models, advocating for collaborative knowledge construction. Robinson viewed education as an organic process fostering individual growth, while Mitra’s experiments demonstrated the effectiveness of unsupervised, curiosity-driven learning. Hedlund introduces the ‘Learning Cosmos’ framework, emphasising the interplay of cognition, emotion, and attitudes in learning, particularly the role of metacognition.

Understanding and Implementing Metacognition

Metacognition, a term coined by John Flavell, is explained as the awareness and control of one’s cognitive processes. It involves understanding personal learning strategies and adapting them to various situations. This concept is key to modifying learning approaches for better outcomes. Metacognitive strategies like planning, monitoring, and evaluating learning processes are essential for enhancing learner independence and overall educational success.

The Role of Metacognition in Learning Success

Metacognition’s role in learning is multifaceted, extending beyond mere academic instruction. It requires students to be active participants in their learning journey, documenting their progress to make learning visible. Metacognitive students typically exhibit better problem-solving abilities and academic performance. The ‘Triple A’ strategy – Awareness, Accountability, and Action – is suggested to nurture metacognition and learner independence. This involves shifting the focus to the learning process, encouraging student ownership, and implementing learning strategies effectively.

Strategies for Promoting Metacognition

The ‘Triple A’ strategy emphasises three key aspects: awareness, accountability, and action. Awareness focuses on understanding the learning process, debunking myths, and utilising cognitive psychology. Accountability involves students taking ownership of their learning, with teachers providing support and progress checks. Action encourages the application of learning strategies, advocating for progress over perfection and the implementation of small, manageable steps towards learning goals.

Conclusion: The Importance of Metacognition in Education

In conclusion, metacognition and learner independence transcend traditional knowledge acquisition, focusing on teaching students to be self-sufficient and responsible for their learning. This approach shifts the focus from simply learning content to employing effective learning strategies. Teachers play a crucial role in guiding students towards becoming more self-efficacious and metacognitive, contributing to more effective learning. Gallery Teachers offers additional resources and masterclasses for further exploration of these topics.

Reflective Questions

Have a quick think about the reflective questions below in order to get the most out of the workshop:

  1. How do you understand learner independence and what do you as a teacher do to help your students become independent learners?
  2. Do you think it is your responsibility to overtly teach metacognitive skills?

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