Dear friends and colleagues,UoB_logo

Thank you very much for your assistance with this research project. As I mentioned, this study will form the basis of my Master’s dissertation in TEFL/TESL from the University of Birmingham. I would like to survey as many students as possible at all ages, levels and contexts by February 1st. So by asking your students, and asking your colleagues to ask their students (or friends, neighbours, colleagues, any non-native English speaker) to take the survey, you would be doing me an incredible service.

I want to make it as simple as possible for you, so here are three ways you can easily pass this request on:

  • Print out this pdf with all of the information (one A4 page to be cut in half) and pass it out in your classes: Research project invitation
  • Print out the pdf and leave some copies in your self-access centre: Research project invitation
  • Copy the text of “Email to students” below and send it to the ones in your address book.

Email to students (click here to reveal the text)


A colleague is doing research for his Master’s dissertation and he hopes you will take his survey. He asked me to send you this message:

I am researching the question, “What do you do to practice English?” for my Master’s dissertation in Teaching English from the University of Birmingham. I need lots of people to answer my survey about independent learning by 1 February 2015. It will only take a few minutes and you can do it online, on your phone or tablet – at the end you will receive a useful “thank you” gift and there are prizes to win!

PLEASE TAKE MY SURVEY! You can find it here:

Your help is greatly appreciated! To say thank you, I’ll send you a giant list of free resources (more than 100 websites and ideas) that you can use to practice your English. And three people who take the survey will win €25 of exam preparation (FCE, CAE, CPE, IELTS, TOEFL, etc.)!

Who should take this survey? In short: everyone. I want to hear from all kinds of students: if you are at a high level or at a low level, if you are currently taking a class or you aren’t, if you practise a lot or only a little, if you use computers and iPads or you only use pencil and paper… You are exactly the person I need for my survey!

Tell your friends!

If you have friends who are also English-language learners, they can take the survey too. I need as many responses as possible. Please help me and ask them to take my survey, too by

Thank you so much!

I’ve made a short video about it:

You can find the survey here:

The survey will close on 1 February 2015.

Thanks again!

Ben Hoyt

The aim of the research is to learn more about student behaviour and differences between student types (based on language groups, ESL/EFL context, level, age, etc.). We all advise students what to do and there are hundreds of products for independent study, but what do our learners actually do when they’ve finished their homework and want extra practice? Do intermediate learners do different types of activities than advanced learners? What differences will there be between students who say they’ve learned a lot from independent activities as opposed to those who say they haven’t really helped? I’ve categorised the activities in different ways so that I will be able to see the amount of individual vs social activities or reflective vs non-reflective activities the different groups of students are doing, for example. I still have quite a lot of work to do and obviously the focus of the paper will depend on the results of the survey so I’m afraid I don’t have much more I can say about the project at this point. Thank you again for your help! If you would like the resource list for yourself or have any questions or comments, please get in touch. Here are a few references if you are interested:

Benson, P. (2011) Teaching and researching autonomy. Applied linguistics in action. 2nd ed. Harlow, England ; New York: Longman/Pearson
Bialystok, E. (1978) A theoretical model of second language learning. Language Learning, 28: 69–83
Brown, H.D. (2007) Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. 5th ed. USA: Pearson Longman
Conole, G., Dyke, M., Oliver, M., et al. (2004) Mapping pedagogy and tools for effective learning design. Computers & Education, 43 (1-2): 17–33
Ellis, R., Basturkmen, H. and Loewen, S. (2002) Doing focus-on-form. System, 30 (4): 419–432
Jones, F.R. (1994) The lone language learner: a diary study. System, 22 (4): 441–454
Laurillard, D. (2002) Rethinking university teaching: a conversational framework for the effective use of learning technologies. 2nd ed. London; New York: Routledge Falmer
Lightbown, P. and Spada, N.M. (2006) How languages are learned. Oxford [england]; New York: Oxford University Press
Meredith, S. and Newton, B. (2003) Models of eLearning: Technology promise vs learner needs literature review. The International Journal of Management Education, 3 (3): 43–56
Sheerin, S. (1989) Self-access. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Vygotsky, L. (1978) Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press