An Exploration of English Language Learners’ Emotions and Beliefs: Insights From Self-reported Experiences and Observed Classroom Practices


Due to the ‘emotional turn’ (Pavlenko, 2013) in the field of Second Language Acquisition (SLA) – and particularly thanks to the advent of Positive Psychology – closer attention has been devoted to the role that emotions and related processes such as (self-)beliefs play in foreign/second language learning. This presentation is based on my doctoral dissertation, which aims to explore the English language learning beliefs and emotions students display and have constructed in relation to (i) the teaching methodology and the type of tasks (particularly oral tasks), and (ii) the role of the teacher and student-teacher relationships. A qualitative approach has been adopted in four independent yet intertwined studies in which both observational (classroom audio/video-recordings) and non-observational (interviews, focus groups and open-ended items) data have been analyzed. Findings indicate that many students have constructed insecure self-concepts with interrelated dysfunctional (self-)beliefs and negative emotional experiences – especially regarding speaking tasks – largely due to a tradition of grammar-based approaches and scarce oral production. The analysis shows that change towards more positive mindsets is possible but the adaptation process involves difficult periods of transition for those students who appear to feel more insecure with their language abilities. During this process, the role of the teacher has been proven to be crucial in fostering positivity in class by promoting positive teacher-student contact and by creating a safe environment in which students respect and work collaboratively in order to overcome English speaking inhibition.

Author Information
Irati Diert-Boté, Universitat de Lleida, Spain

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2021
Stream: Psychology of the learner

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon