This paper addresses issues related to autonomy in the context of online distance learning in order to examine possible connections between autonomy and distance learning, examine different concepts of autonomy, and map the language of autonomy in asynchronous communication. Three theoretical areas have given support to the study: distance learning as critical inquiry, as proposed by Garrison et al. (2003); autonomy development as proposed by Benson (2001); and interpersonal communication as proposed by systemic functional linguistics (Halliday & Matthiessen 2004; Martin & Rose 2003). The context of situation to be focused on is an online teacher development course for Brazilian teachers of English as a foreign language - Teachers' Links. Within that context, specific reference will be made to some processes of apparent development of autonomous behavior and the linguistic trails they have left behind for us to observe. Data originates from asynchronous communication in discussion forums. Results indicate that the language of autonomy development can be mapped both at the level of register and genre.
autonomy development; language indicators; distance learning