Research in learner autonomy acknowledges the significant role of personal and affective aspects in the co-construction of a reflective learning dialogue (Yamashita & Mynard 2015; Mynard & Carson 2012; Tassinari, 2016; Mozzon-McPherson, 2019). The context of this research embraces one-to-one sessions (often taking place in a self-access centre or a tutorial) to a classroom or online context.
The fundamental premise in this work is that these co-constructed 'learning conversations' (Gremmo 2007) are designed to help language learners become better and more autonomous learners. Ultimately, successful teaching can be defined by the quality of the self-reflection and self-direction learners develop and the impact this has on the quality of their language learning (retention, performance, motivation). At the heart of this pedagogic approach is the focus on mindful listening and its related skills. The latter requires explicit professional development on the part of the teacher.
‘Mindful' describes a non-judgemental ability to observe what is immediately around/in us, and draws attention to habits that might impede effective communication – the latter begins with the core skill of listening. In this context, mindful listening is therefore the practice of bringing full awareness to a learners’ needs, and helping them notice, and work through, their learning barriers (Mozzon-McPherson 2018). However, for this to work, teachers themselves have to develop the ability to notice their own filters, barriers in effect, and apply mindful listening techniques to redirect their thoughts, manage their emotions, and offer undivided attention.
Extending from it, a range of mindful listening exercises will be explored as a new means to reflect on the quality of teachers’ communications skills when engaged in language learning conversations in different academic contexts.
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