Introduction to the Column: Curriculum-Based Approaches

Neil Curry, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan
Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Japan

Curry, N., & Mynard, J. (2019). Introduction to the column: Curriculum-based approaches. Relay Journal, 2(1), 73-74.

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Welcome to the curriculum column of Relay Journal. Here our aim is to provide a space in which we can view and discuss items relating to the facilitation of language-learner autonomy and the explicit teaching of self-directed learning (SDL) skills. As so much of learning takes place beyond a formal classroom setting, it is vital that as educators we help to equip our students with the cognitive and meta-cognitive abilities to make best use of their own skills and opportunities to improve their abilities to effectively learn languages. Many learners can be unaware of exactly what their strengths and skills are, and thus some form of formal training in tandem with learner advising can be very effective (Kato & Mynard 2016). In addition, taking a curriculum-based approach allows the provision of “scaffolding structures that support learners in decision-making processes” (Benson 2001 p.170). A discussion and examination of how best to do this, and the different means by which these goals could be achieved, is the ambition of this column. We welcome insights into this process from colleagues based elsewhere to develop a deeper understanding of our research and practice, to learn from each other, and to develop a collection of papers over time that can serve as a starting point to others. Papers in this column can include descriptions of classroom practice, research-in-progress papers, full research papers, or examples of resources related to curriculum approaches to promoting learner autonomy. If you would like to respond to one of the papers in this column, please get in touch. We welcome you to the discussion.

The first column begins with a description by Neil Curry which outlines the justification and rationale behind attempts to ensure that all new students at an institution in Japan can begin to develop autonomy in their learning. At Kanda University of International Studies our curriculums and courses are consistently reviewed, but currently we are in a period of major transformation as the Self-Access Learning Center (SALC) seeks to integrate its SDL skills curriculum into that of regular English language classes.

The second paper is a description of the initial stage of the first sub-project of this integration, focusing on the instruction of time-management skills. Chris Arnott, Neil Curry, Phoebe Lyon and Jo Mynard are collaborating on developing activities for this aim, while also seeking to understand the beliefs and habits of students when it comes to managing their schedules.

Notes on the Contributors

Neil Curry is a principal learning advisor in the Self-Access Learning Center (SALC) at Kanda University of International Studies. His main areas of interest are self-directed learning, language anxiety and curriculum development.

Jo Mynard is a professor, Director of the Self-Access Learning Centre (SALC) and Director of the Research Institute for Learner Autonomy Education (RILAE) at Kanda University of International Studies. Her research interests include learner autonomy and the psychology of language learning.


Benson, P. (2001). Autonomy in Language Learning. Harlow, UK. Pearson Education.

Kato, S., & Mynard, J.M., (2016). Reflective Dialogue: Advising in Language Learning. New York, NY. Routledge