Category Archives: Announcements

New publication: Intentionality & Complex Systems Theory

I am proud and happy to announce that Juup Stelma and I have just had a chapter published in New Directions in Language Learning Psychology, an edited collection put together by Christina Gkonou, Dietmar Tatzl and Sarah Mercer, and published by Springer.

In the chapter, we suggest that many activities in language teaching and learning might be easier to understand if we look into the forces that drive and sustain them. These forces, which we call intentionalities, are roughly akin to the ‘purposes’ of each activity, the reasons that make teachers and students behave together in particular ways. We also point out that teaching and learning is usually driven by several intentionalities, which are interwoven into each other. We suggest, therefore that it is useful to try to understand them through a complexity lens.

Juup and I support our theoretical argument by drawing on data from our doctoral theses. Juup describes how a group of learners in Norway got increasingly involved in a set of role-playing tasks, and engaged in increasingly more elaborate theatrics. This activity, he argues, was driven by a ‘performace intentionality’, and he discusses how it came into being, and how it eventually faltered. In my part of the chapter, I talk about how the teaching and learning activity in an evening language school in Greece was driven by what I call a ‘competition intentionality’, which emerged from the interaction with the state school system.

For those of you who find this kind of information useful, the full bibliographical reference for the chapter is:

Kostoulas, A. & Stelma, J. (2016). ‘Intentionality and Complex Systems Theory: A New Direction for Language Learning Psychology’. In Gkonou, C., Tatzl, D. and Mercer, S. (eds.). New Directions in Language Learning Psychology. Berlin: Springer.

Download Chapter

A copy of our chapter can be downloaded by clicking on the link above, and comments and feedback are always welcome!


Image Credit: adikos @ Flickr , CC-BY

No child is unwelcome here: ELT tutoring for refugee children

One of the less visible aspects of the refugee crisis is that the refugee children have their education disrupted. They often have difficulty enrolling in the formal education systems of their host countries, and even when they do, they usually need a lot of extra support.

To help provide some of the support needed, we at the University of Graz ELT Research and Methodology unit have set up a tutoring programme, in cooperation with Caritas. Our plan is to organise a series of tutoring sessions, starting at the 2016 Summer Semester, where refugee children, and other children with migrant backgrounds, can join and practice using English. These sessions will be supervised by staff and trainee teachers studying with us, who will first undergo a five-lecture course on Prejudice Conscious Education, organised by Caritas.

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If you are studying ELT in Graz, join us!

We are aware that this is, probably, not the most pressing need the refugee children are facing at the moment. But even so, I genuinely believe that it is a worthwhile endeavour, not just because of the difference it might make in the children’s lives, but also because a statement must be made that no child is unwelcome here.

Join us for Prof Werner Delanoy’s seminar in Graz!

Those of you who are in Graz or nearby might be interested in attending a seminar by Assoc. Prof. Werner Delanoy, which will be hosted by Fachdidaktik Anglistik at the University of Graz.

In this seminar, titled Transculturality as a New Paradigm for Culture Learning, Prof. Delanoy will discuss the concept of Transculturality, defined as as “a set of differing theories ranging from an entirely positive appraisal of highly critical comments on hybridisation phenomena”. In addition, there will be a description of the concept with reference to concrete text examples, such as literary texts, student essays and newspaper articles.

The seminar will take place on 5 November 2015 (13:30) in Hörsaal 01.15, which is located in Universitätsplatz 3. You are looking forward to seeing you there!

New job, new beginnings

As some of you might already know, next month I am moving to a new academic home at the University of Graz, where I will join the ELT Research and Methodology (Fachdidaktik) centre of the Institut für Anglistik.

Among other things, I’ll be responsible for teaching two undergraduate courses to future language teachers: an Introduction to Foreign Language Didactics, and an Introduction to Applied Linguistics. I also expect that I will be able to carry on with my writing on the ways in which Complex Systems Theory can usefully inform ELT.

As with every transition, there are inevitably mixed feelings to manage. There is the question of achieving closure about what is left behind; and there are feelings of anger and frustration about the state of the academe in Greece; but most of all, there are feelings of anticipation and excitement about working with the brilliant team of educators and researchers at Graz. These are exciting times ahead!

My thesis listed in EThOS

Just a short note to say that my PhD Thesis is now listed in the British Library Electronic Thesis Online Service (EThOS). Registered users can download a pdf copy from EThOS. Alternatively, you can download a copy from eScholar, the University of Manchester institutional repository. Clicking on the link below will take you to the EThOS listing:

A complex systems perspective on English language teaching : a case study of a language school in Greece. 


Featured image by Marja Ligterink @ Flickr, CC BY-NC,