Independent learning is a term in common use in relation to teaching and learning in higher education. In fact, the word ‘independent’ occurs at least eight times in the UK Subject Benchmarking statement for Languages and Related Studies (QAA 2002) where it is associated with terms such as ‘learner autonomy’, ‘responsibility’, ‘effective’ and ‘self-aware’ and is said to be ‘usually undertaken in close relationship with classroom-based learning’. However, there still seems to be some confusion as to what we mean by independent learning; it is sometimes used to describe a major educational objective, as in the quotation above, or it is used to refer to all work carried out beyond the classroom or lecture theatre. Sometimes it is another term for self-instruction. This chapter aims to introduce some of the current thinking in the area of independent learning/learner independence and to discuss practical implications for the language teacher. It refers to and builds on the work of the CIEL (Curriculum and IndEpendence for the Learner) project (see www.ncteam.ac.uk/projects/ fdtl/fdtl2/index.htm) which was funded between 1997 and 2001 under the second phase of the UK’s Fund for the Development of Teaching and Learning to support the integration of independent language learning with the curriculum and to achieve more effective use of university self-access centres.