The focus on the psychology of autonomous learning has been of interest to RILAE researchers for some time. Previous and current projects have included research designed to understand more about the psychological, affective and motivational processes that ​​impact on autonomous language learning. For example, how do self-directed learners keep going? How can we support learners in managing their anxiety for speaking? How can affective support be given to learners outside the classroom? If you are interested in joining one of our current projects, or proposing a related project, please get in touch.

Current research projects

Supporting autonomy in a SALC through classroom-based discussions Amelia Yarwood, Michelle Lees, Crystal Rose-Wainstock, and Alecia Wallingford, Kanda University of International Studies

To understand more about students’ views on whether we are creating suitable conditions (autonomy, competence, relatedness) to foster English language use in the SALC (Original research aim). Also, to understand more about students’ views and behaviours when given opportunities to develop their autonomy from within


Affordances for L2 learning beyond the classroom during study abroad
Andrew D. Tweed, Meijo University, Nagoya, Japan

Japanese study abroad students in ESL contexts were asked to capture their daily experiences of learning and using English outside of the classroom using an application. The results will help determine the degree of effectiveness of this kind of pedagogical intervention, in terms of encouraging students to notice, act and reflect on affordances for language learning during study abroad, as well as in motivating them to continue learning English.

Academic discourse socialization: Multiple case study of first-year Japanese college students (Project ID: Identity-1-2018)
Kie Yamamoto, Kanda University of International Studies 

The aims of this project are to understand how a small group of first year students negotiate their identities in the new academic community.

Creating materials for a CBT-based approach for supporting anxious foreign language learners (Project ID: CBT-18-1)
Neil Curry, Kanda University and Kate Maher, Kyoto University of Foreign Studies

The researchers will develop an instrument which is based on Managing Your Emotions for Language Learning, a scenario-based questionnaire developed by Gkonou and Oxford 2016. It is hoped that the questionnaire might serve as a classroom tool – a means of raising awareness of these issues and giving students an opportunity to discuss them.

The Confidence-Building Diary as a tool for managing positive emotions (Project ID: Affect-1-2018)
Scott Shelton-Strong and Jo Mynard, Kanda University

The purpose of this project is to understand more about students’ engagement with confidence-building activities included in the affect unit of the SALC’s self-directed learning courses to see how/whether we can further support students in developing strategies for maintain positivity in self-directed learning.

Feelings and perceptions related to experience with learning advisors and advising sessions in the SALC (Project ID: ADV-2018-1)

Scott Shelton-Strong

The purpose of this project is to understand more about our students’ perceptions and feelings in relation to their experience with learning advisors and advising sessions to determine if these are meeting their needs and our expectations.

Publications related to psychology of autonomous learning

Curry, N. (2014). Using CBT with anxious language learners: The potential role of the learning advisor. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 5(1), 29-41. Retrieved from

Imamura, Y. (2017). Exploring effects of socially mediated interactions on learners’ L2 motivation. Learning Learning, 24(3).

​McLoughlin, D., & Mynard, J. (2015). How do independent language learners keep going? The role of interest in sustaining motivation. rEFLections: Special issue: Innovation in ELT, 19, 38-57.

McLoughlin, D., & Mynard, J. (2018). How do self-directed learners keep going? The role of interest in sustained learning. 2017 PanSIG Journal, 74-81. LINK

Mynard, J. (2014). Self-access and motivation. Learning Learning, 21(2), 18-23. Retrieved from

Mynard, J., & McLoughlin, D. (2014). Affective factors in self-directed learning. Working Papers in Language Education and Research, 2(1), 27-41. Retrieved from

Mynard, J., & McLoughlin, D. (2016). Sustaining motivation: Self-directed learners’ stories. Proceedings of the 7th International CLS Conference, 1-3 December 2016, National University of Singapore. Retrieved from

Mynard, J., & Shelton-Strong, S. J. (2019). Drawing on self-determination theory in order to investigate the autonomy-supportive nature of a self-access centre. LASIG Blog.

Ota, A., & Yamamoto, K. (2018). Disseminating a learner voice through collaborative reflection. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 9(2), 234-242. 

Shelton-Strong, S. J., & Mynard, J. (2018). Affective factors in self-access learning. Relay Journal, 1(2), 275-292.

Shelton-Strong, S. J., & Mynard, J. (2018). Incorporating affective factors into self-directed learning courses. In J. Mynard & I. K. Brady (Eds.), Stretching boundaries: Papers from the 3rd international Psychology of Language Learning conference, Tokyo, Japan. 7-10 June, 2018 (pp. 63-65). Tokyo, Japan: International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning.

​Valdivia, S., McLoughlin, D., & Mynard, J. (2011). The importance of affective factors in self-access language learning courses. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 2(2), 91-96. Retrieved from

Yamashita, H. (2015). Affect and the development of learner autonomy through advising. Studies in Self-Access Learning Journal, 6(1), 62-85. Retrieved from

Yarwood, A., Lorentzen, A., Wallingford, A., & Wongsarnpigoon, I. (2019). Exploring basic psychological needs in a language learning center. Part 2: The autonomy-supportive nature and limitations of a SALC. Relay Journal, 2(1), 236-250.