With the advent of new technologies, a great deal of self learning books, interactive language courses, etc. have emerged all over the world. These didactic materials ensure that the user “learner” will master the skills needed in no time. But in fact, most of them do not deliver. Especially when it comes down to language courses! ¿Have you ever bought any of them? ¿Did they work for you? Was it a waste of money? Were they created considering firm theoretical grounds?
I've not used any of these things myself but neither have I heard any success stories from bought sourses. I imagine you have to be a very motivated person to succeed in this way. I think I would struggle in any case.
However, now I think about it, when I lived in Spain I had a flatmate who had learned English to an impressive level more or less autonomously. His strategy was essentially extensive reading. He would download loads and loads of books in English and struggle through them.
So I can't say he had any theoretical system behind his learning but he succeeded in any case. Doe sthat mean it's simply a matter of motivation and dedication when learning autonomously?
The reason many of the texts and courses don't deliver in terms of making learners more autonomous is that there is a lack of practical understanding of what is involved in becoming autonomous. Most of it is theory with formulaic exercises.
One aspect in becoming autonomous - bearing in mind we all once were when we learnt L1, and continue to be in some areas - is that we don't fully appreciate the value of the feedback we get from what we do. Instead of learning from it, many people run from it, hide from it, ignore it or are not aware of it. Once we become attentive to the feedback we are always getting, we are on the road to autonomy. Check out http://www.strategiesinlanguagelearning.com/learn_another_language/ for further insights into same.
The concept of "autonomous learning" is not new, because human beings, for a variety of reasons have always tried to be independent. when in my teens, I myself lived in a small village where there was almost no facility to learn English. Because I thought learning English would give prestige and make me feel different, I was highly motivated to learn it. I had only some old books (mainly conversational), I picked up the sentences from those books and went over to the Indian doctor working in my village to practice with him. Believe me I was able to learn more English than my friends and what I had been taught at school. Note that in school, some distorted form of GTM was used and there was no interest in learning English. Besides, I also recorded short English lessons mainly broadcast on the BBC Persian service and listened to them several times. Whenever I got the chance, I would practice with the Indian doctor what I had learnt from the recordings.