Leadership and Learner Autonomy for Achieving Your Dreams

Hello, ESPers worldwide!

At Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan, there is an internationally renowned self-access learning center—the SALC. The KUIS SALC is described as follows on its website:

The Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) at Kanda University of International Studies is a learning community designed to help KUIS students to develop lifelong language learner autonomy. The SALC provides a social space to motivate learners and to facilitate the development of fluency and confidence. The SALC is filled with over 10,000 resources such as books, magazines, games, DVDs, CDs and online resources in order to provide individualised learning opportunities for students. In addition to the large variety of materials, there are different areas and rooms within the SALC where students can carry out language learning. There are areas equipped with everything students need to use the materials. The SALC is designed to enable students to learn in their own time and to develop language skills for the real world. Learning advisors and other staff are on hand to help users and the SALC offers various modules and courses designed to promote learner autonomy.

A new and bigger SALC is under construction and will be completed by April 2017. The director of the SALC is Dr. Jo Mynard. As colleagues at KUIS, Jo and I have been collaborating on creating a global leadership competition in the SALC.


Dr. Jo Mynard
Director of the SALC at KUIS
Contact: joanne-m@kanda.kuis.ac.jp

At KUIS, my research and teaching have been related to leadership. (See The Leadership Connection Project.) For me, leadership has become a creative activity, and my students are involved in project leadership. (In my seminars, my students propose and achieve their project visions.) Accordingly, when I read an email that Jo had sent to the KUIS faculty, I could see “leadership.”

The following are extracts from Jo’s email replicated with her permission:

Class Visits, SALC Orientations, and Reorientations

We offer SALC orientations and reorientations all year round. Feel free to get in touch to arrange for your students to come to the SALC or for one of us to visit your class. Freshman classes have all been assigned a learning advisor (LA) and you can contact them directly to make arrangements…

If you are not a freshman English teacher, but would like to arrange a class visit or a SALC (re)orientation for your students, you are still welcome to get in touch (email salc@kanda.kuis.ac.jp or talk to Jo).

In addition to orientations, we can do workshops on a variety of learning-related topics such as:

  • Managing motivation
  • Goal setting
  • Making a learning plan
  • Managing learning anxiety
  • Choosing and evaluating learning resources
  • Time management

Student Conference: Empowering Students in Self Access Conference (ESSAC)

The SALC is holding a student conference on Saturday, October 15th. We welcome presentation proposals from students who would like to share their experiences of self-access learning. The submission date has been extended to September 30th. Details and the submission form can be found online.

Staff and students are welcome to attend the event. The Facebook page is here.

In Extract 1, Jo writes about the action that is important in creating and achieving personal development visions. Further, project management can be seen in the learning-related topics such as goal setting, making a plan, choosing and evaluating resources, and time management. In Extract 2, project leadership appears as students take the role to train other students about self-access learning. In summary, the SALC empowers students to achieve their goals.

Empowering students is the aim of ESSAC. Similarly, empowering students to take project leadership roles to create their visions is an objective of the global leadership competition in the SALC. It is not surprising perhaps that the ESP Project Leader Profiles enter my thoughts when I consider the leadership competition in the SALC. The profiles describe how the leaders achieved their visions/goals. Leadership and learner autonomy are both focused on “achieving your dreams”!

Are your ESP programs promoting learner autonomy? If you have questions or comments about self-access learning and/or learner autonomy, please contact Jo directly or leave comments below!

All the best,


About Kevin Knight

Kevin Knight
Kevin Knight (PhD in Linguistics, MBA, MPIA) is an associate professor in the Department of International Communication (International Business Career major) and has also been working in the Career Education Center of Kanda University of International Studies in Chiba, Japan. In the TESOL ESP Interest Section (ESPIS), he has served as chair and English in occupational settings (EOS) representative, and he is currently the ESPIS community manager. He was also a member of the Governance Review Task Force (GRTF) appointed by the board of directors. In addition, he has been a TESOL blogger in the area of English for Specific Purposes (ESP). He has more than 30 years of professional experience working for private, public, and academic sector institutions including Sony and the Japan Patent Office. His doctoral research on leadership communication (i.e., discourse) as a basis for leadership development was under the supervision of Emeritus Professor Christopher Candlin and Dr. Alan Jones.
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