The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Choonkyong Kim

Second Advisor

James H. Robinson

Third Advisor

Timothy R. Fountaine

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


Autonomy involves learners taking responsibility and control of their language learning. A great deal of language learning happens outside of the walls of the classroom. So for language learners to succeed and continue beyond their ESL courses, they must at some point take charge of their learning process. In explicit vocabulary learning, learner autonomy can be promoted by giving the learner choices, providing input on planning and recording methods, teaching useful review strategies and encouraging reflective practice.

Personalization has been proposed as a potentially significant propellant for learner autonomy in language learning for decades. It has recently come to the forefront of the conversation in general education as well. This research builds on studies showing a connection between the use of vocabulary notebooks and autonomy while looking more closely at the relationship between personalization and autonomy in L2 vocabulary learning.

The primary question for this research was: Will ESL learners benefit from developing their own personalized vocabulary learning plan (PVP) that is based on their starting vocabulary level, perceived needs and personal vocabulary goals? The conclusion was that most participants did benefit in some key areas, though not all. The PVP was a useful tool in developing learner autonomy when used for planning, student-teacher collaboration and reflective practices. Additionally, this study provides evidence that, for some aspects of vocabulary learning, there is a relationship between a learner’s perception of ability and the degree of responsibility he or she assumes. This study confirms that one way to encourage learners to become more autonomous is to increase their confidence in their own abilities.