Evidence is mounting from a number of studies undertaken with groups of learners of all ages and all abilities that there is a particular factor common to successful language learners: strategic competence involving the use of appropriate learning strategies. The growing body of research into this area has not, however, had much to say so far about the special situation of those learning a language at a distance. Based on the findings of surveys and discussions carried out with students enrolled in the final year of the Diploma in French at the Open University, this paper investigates learner beliefs about learning a language at a distance, difficulties encountered, attitudes to learner support and the use of strategies. It concludes that metacognitive strategies may have an enhanced role for the learner of a language at a distance, but that further research is needed to determine more clearly the nature of this role, how metacognitive strategies relate to learner variables and the specific implications for learner autonomy, tutor support and course design
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