Leading the proverbial thirsty horse to water: ESL learners’ experience with language learning contracts Abstract: There is agreement among language educators that the process of language teaching and learning should aim to develop autonomous language learners. While the advantages of autonomy seem to be quite obvious, fostering autonomy in practice can prove to be difficult for some language learners. This paper describes the use of learning contracts as a strategy for enhancing learner autonomy among a group of ESL learners in a Malaysian university. Through learners’ account of their experiences with the contracts, the study concludes that the learning contract has potential use for language learning and that learners’ positive learning experience remains the key to the success of any endeavour seeking to promote learner autonomy. The paper ends with some implications for teachers and learners who wish to use the contracts as a strategy for language teaching and learning.