The value of defining autonomy at three different levels:
1. autonomy of language competence The threshold level at which learners can say or write whatever they want to
2. autonomy of language learning competence The level at which learners can deploy cognitive and metacognitive strategies consistent with or in place of the teacher's teaching approaches, and also without the immediate presence of a teacher
3. autonomy of choice The learners' role in determining personal language goals, the designated purposes for learning the language and proficiency goals, and the extent to which the learner has input into the content and modality of the language curriculum
The third level is crucial for lifelong language learning, especially when there is no teacher or tutor on the scene.