Autonomous Language Learning at Tertiary Education Level in Saudi Arabia: Students’ and Instructors’ Perceptions and Practices


The ultimate goal of educational institutions is to create self-independent, lifelong learners and discourage regurgitation of information in exams and evaluation. Thus, this study investigated (a) autonomous learning perceptions and practices among Saudi EFL students (n=312) and (b) instructors’ perceptions of their students’ autonomous language learning at a rural college at Jouf University in Saudi Arabia. This study utilizes a mixed method explanatory sequential research design using both quantitative (questionnaires) and qualitative (interviews) research. The results of this study reveal that the students perceive their teachers as being largely responsible for most (50%) of the learning practices. The rest of the practices were viewed as either their own responsibility or mutually shared responsibility with their teachers with 25% for each. The quantitative analysis also indicates a medium frequency level (mean=3.2) of learning activities among students indicating that students have little exposure and experience in autonomous learning at their current institution. As for the gender differences, there are minor differences seen in the results, but they are not statistically significant. Semi-structured interviews provided in-depth insights on students’ (n=14) and teachers’ (n=6) perceptions of autonomous learning. Based on the findings, the instructors have positive attitude towards autonomous learning and are cognizant about its importance, but it is not effectuated in the educational process. Students and instructors agree that weakness in English attenuate utilising autonomous learning practices. The study proposes training programs, re-evaluate curriculum and implement self-access learning time to promote autonomous learning at the tertiary level in Saudi Arabia.


Mohammad N. Khreisat and Ahmad Ibrahim Mugableh


autonomous learning, autonomous language readiness, EFL autonomy, Saudi EFL, student centred learning