Entrance to a city high schools (early 20th century)

Language Teacher Psychology

Some of you are already aware that Sarah Mercer and I recently published an edited collection, Language Teacher Psychology (Multilingual Matters, 2018). Sarah and I have already blogged about this elsewhere, but I would like to add a few more remarks about the book in the paragraphs that follow.

Why did we put this collection together?

This collection was prompted by our concern that, as the field makes increasingly good progress towards understanding the psychological processes associated with language learning, it seems to be focusing rather too narrowly on the learner and assuming — as Zoltán Dörnyei points out in the foreword to the collection —  that the teacher is just ‘one of many factors affecting learner success’. In some ways, such a focus seems natural, even inevitable. For one thing, communicative language teaching is underpinned by a learner-focused ideology, and perhaps rightly so. To this, one might add that reaching a large enough population of practicing teachers to study has always been pragmatically challenging.

As teachers and teacher educators, Sarah and I felt very strongly that this was an imbalance that needed to be redressed. We can point out to a copious amount of research that shows how much of learning is affected by teachers, and from this it must follow that a better understanding of what teachers think, feel and do is requisite to improving learning outcomes. But even more importantly, this book is our way of asserting our fundamental belief in the teachers’ value as professionals and as people. In the context of a culture of narrowly-defined accountability, which brings teachers under sustained scrutiny, and even occasionally hostile public discourse, this was a statement that we felt compelled to make.

Contents of the book

As editors, we have had the privilege of working with some of the most inspiring scholars in the emerging field of language learning (and teaching) psychology, as well as authors who are at the start of what seems like a very promising academic trajectory. The collection consists of 19 chapters, which cover familiar topics, as well as topics that have only recently began to receive empirical attention. These chapters are listed below:

  1. LTPcover
    Introduction to Language Teacher Psychology (Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas)
  2. Language Teacher Motivation (Phil Hiver, Tae-Young Kim and Youngmi Kim)
  3. ‘The English Class of My Dreams’: Envisioning Teaching a Foreign Language (Paula Kalaja and Katja Mäntylä)
  4. Language Teacher Motivation: From the Ideal to the Feasible Self (Taguhi Sahakyan, Martin Lamb and Gary Chambers)
  5. Drawing on Cultural Models and Figured Worlds to Study Language Teacher Education and Teacher Identity (Manka M. Varghese)
  6. Exploring Novice EFL Teachers’ Identity Development: A Case Study of Two EFL Teachers in China (Wendy Li and Peter I. De Costa)
  7. Language Teacher Cognition: An Emergent Phenomenon in an Emergent Field (Anne Feryok)
  8. Language Teachers’ Self-efficacy Beliefs: An Introduction (Mark Wyatt)
  9. Teacher Emotions and the Emotional Labour of Second Language Teaching (Jim King and Kwan-Yee Sarah Ng)
  10. The Relational Beliefs and Practices of Highly Socio-emotionally Competent Language Teachers (Christina Gkonou and Sarah Mercer)
  11. Variation in ESL/EFL Teachers’ Attitudes towards their Students (Jean-Marc Dewaele and Sarah Mercer)
  12. Language Teacher Agency (Cynthia J. White)
  13. Teachers Crafting Job Crafting (Joseph Falout and Tim Murphey)
  14. Teachstrong: The Power of Teacher Resilience for Second Language Practitioners (Phil Hiver)
  15. Making the Transition into Teacher Education: Resilience as a Process of Growth (Achilleas Kostoulas and Anita Lämmerer)
  16. Signature Strengths as a Gateway to Mentoring: Facilitating Emergent Teachers’ Transition into Language Teaching (Tammy Gregersen and Peter D. MacIntyre)
  17. Psychological Insights from Third-age Teacher Educators: A Narrative, Multiple-case Study (Rebecca L. Oxford, Andrew D. Cohen and Virginia G. Simmons)
  18. Exploring Language Teacher Psychology: A Case Study from a Holistic Perspective (Mehvish Saleem)
  19. Conclusion: Lessons Learned, Promising Perspectives (Achilleas Kostoulas and Sarah Mercer)

Some concluding remarks

Working on this book and with this impressive team of contributors has been was a very rewarding experience for me. As a newcomer to language learning and teaching psychology, engaging with the ideas of some of the most influential scholars in the field gave me a unique opportunity to learn from their accumulated experience. Having the support of one of the best production teams in the industry also meant that the process of putting the collection together was a much more enjoyable experience than it could otherwise have been.

The book is available in hardcover, paperback and electronic editions from Amazon or directly from the publishers. I hope you enjoy reading it, and I would very much appreciate any feedback or thoughts you might want to share in the comments or the contact page.


  1. It is a cracking book and I found Mark Wyatt’s chapter very interesting as it applied to a situation I found myself in and unsure of what to do about it. Thanks Achilleas (and Sarah).

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