“Positive feelings about my work: I needed it!” Emotions and emotion self-regulation in language teachers

Elena Gallo, Maria Giovanna Tassinari

Emotion self-regulation, Functions of emotions, Language teaching, Language teachers, Well-being


Similar to learning, teaching is not exclusively a cognitive matter. Teachers’ emotions play a significant role in their teaching practice. For language teachers especially, the link between teachers’ emotions, identities and well-being has been identified as a key factor in their lives (Day & Lee, 2011) as well as in their professional development (Golombek & Doran, 2014; Kubanyiova, 2012). Although teachers’ well-being is essential in remaining engaged in the profession, little empirical work has been done to investigate how teachers cope with the affective complexities of teaching. Expectations, interest and satisfaction, as well as anxiety and frustration, are often an unspoken part of a teacher’s everyday work. This empirical exploratory study aims at investigating which emotions language teachers in higher education experience and what strategies they use to self-regulate these emotions. For this purpose, we collected and analysed data from teachers in two university language centres in Germany using a variety of instruments, including questionnaires, group discussions and researchers’ logs. The data show that both positive and negative emotions occur and are related to three main sources: the learners, the teaching-learning context and the teachers themselves. In addition, we identified a number of self-regulation strategies that are affected by various factors, such as individual sensitivity or personal attitudes. This paper will focus on the crucial role that emotions seem to play in the professional well-being of university language teachers and will link to theories of emotion and teaching practice.

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Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies