Navigating the emotional journey of learning a language

Start - End 
2020 - 2024 (ongoing)
Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication
Research Focus 



In this project, we explore the ways in which emotions and interpersonal interactions impact foreign language students’ learning experiences in both in-person and online English classes.

In our first exploratory case study, we examined students’ interpersonal interactions which occurred in online synchronous lessons during the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak. The language-focused content analysis of text-based chat data and thematic analysis of reflection answers collected from 40 students enrolled on an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) university course in Belgium is guided by the concept of social presence (SP) from the Community of Inquiry (CoI) theoretical framework and further complemented by a qualitative interpersonal pragmatics approach drawing on relational work.

The coronavirus pandemic presented a unique opportunity to take stock of students’ experiences in light of a rapid transition to unknown modes and practices, and to explore associated emotions provoked by such a change. In our second study, which involves the same participants as the first, we investigated students' adjustment process to the role of online learner across six core themes: social, teacher, self, course, technology, and other through a dual theoretical and analytical lens (role adjustment and emotions). Patterns of emotions attached to each theme were also identified.

Our current study focuses on an out-of-class podcast project undertaken by second-year Bachelors students enrolled on an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) vocabulary course in Belgium. The aim of the project was to provide students with the opportunity to use English more frequently and authentically while creating something tangible together through interaction. Research is beginning to emerge demonstrating the advantages of engaging students in collaborative podcast production, such as an improvement in spoken performance and a reduction in foreign language anxiety. This study contributes to the current wave of applied linguistics research which aims to explore learners' foreign language learning experiences through the coexistence of multiple emotions.



Phd Student(s)