Independent Learning Part 1


This interactive lesson will introduce you to the concept of independent learning, its unique features and numerous benefits, as well as the steps you may take to become an efficient autonomous learner who actively takes responsibility for the content and direction of your own learning. 

Autonomous (independent) learning has been defined in several ways.

Henri Holec (1981) defined it as ‘the ability to take charge of one’s own learning’

Phil Benson (1991) referred to it as ‘a capacity to take control of one’s own learning’

Philip Candy (1991) elaborated on this definition by referring to independent learning as ‘a process, a method and a philosophy of education in which a student acquires knowledge by his or her own efforts and develops the ability for inquiry and critical evaluation’. This includes ‘freedom of choice in determining those objectives, within the limits of a given project or program and with the aid of a faculty adviser’. It also requires ‘freedom of process to carry out the objectives and places increased educational responsibility on the student for the achieving of objectives and for the value of the goals’ (p 13).

The advantages of learning independently have been well-researched and documented over the past 30 years. This has revealed many benefits for students, including enhanced:

  • academic performance
  • motivation and confidence
  • awareness of limitations and ability to deal with them
  • awareness of how to learn effectively
  • appreciation of the learning process
  • time management and other important life skills
  • passion and curiosity
  • ability for self- critiquing
  • resourcefulness

As you can see, independent learning allows learners to ‘take charge’ of their own learning, bringing a wide array of benefits to those who take engage in it.

Benson, P. (2001).  Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited.
Candy, P. C. (1991) Self-direction for lifelong learning: A comprehensive guide to theory and practice. (1st ed.) Jossey Bass
Deneen, J. (2013, January 23). [Web log message]. Retrieved from
Holec, H. (1981) Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning, Oxford: Pergamon Press
Meyer, B., Haywood, N., Sachdev, D., & Faraday, S. : Department for Children,
Schools and Families, (2008). What is independent learning and what are the benefits for students? (051). Retrieved from London: Department for Children, Schools and Families Research Report website:[sitetimestamp]/Whatisindependentlearningandwhatarethebenefits.pdf


Audio clip: Independent Learning Part 1

Audio clip: Independent Learning Part 1

Audio clip: Independent Learning Part 1

Audio clip: Independent Learning Part 2

Audio clip: Independent Learning Part 2

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