Oral skills and learner agency in the foreign language classroom

Reflections on self-regulated learning and feedback in a Nordic perspective

  • Maria Håkansson Ramberg Uppsala University
  • Henrik Bøhn


Learner agency is frequently advocated as a basic principle of contemporary language education, involving learner engagement and autonomy. This principle is supported by research in the fields of Self-Regulated Learning (SRL) and formative assessment (FA). These two perspectives may be further linked to models of feedback in the sense that feedback is not only related to feedback on tasks, but also to learning strategies and self-regulation. Related to this, there is evidence that self-assessment (SA) and communication strategies (CSs) have potential for advancing student learning in the language learning classroom.

In the national curricula of foreign languages in the Nordic countries, the concepts of learner agency and self-regulated learning are emphasized as important for developing students’ proficiency. However, in the research literature, little attention has been paid to the combined strategies of SRL and agency in relation to learners’ oral skills. In this article, we discuss factors influencing the usefulness and effectiveness of feedback and how SRL and FA, more specifically SA and CSs, may promote oral skills in the foreign language classroom. Finally, we stress the need for more empirical studies, involving teachers and researchers, examining SRL strategies and learner agency in a Nordic school context.


Keywords: Learner agency; formative assessment; self-regulated learning; student involvement, communication strategies