Independent language learning

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

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 where you particularly need to progress.
  • 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 first-language 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

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 Centre for Academic English;
  • 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.