Achilleas Kostoulas

Applied Linguistics & Language Teacher Education

Stockholm Public Library (interior view)

Chapters and journal articles


Tracing the connections among ideology, language and education

Motsiou, E. & Kostoulas, A. (2021). Αναζητώντας τις σχέσεις ιδεολογίας, γλώσσας και εκπαίδευσης [Tracing the connections among ideology, language and education]. In E. Motsiou, E. Vasilaki, E. Gana & A. Kostoulas (eds), Ιδεολογίες, Γλωσσική Επικοινωνία και Εκπαίδευση [Ideologies, Linguistic Communication & Education] (pp. 9-32). Gutenberg.

This is the introductory chapter of the Ideologies, Linguistic Communication & Education edited volume. In the chapter we define and discuss ideology, as it relates to language. A distinction is made between ideological values that are encoded in linguistic form (ideology in language) and ideological beliefs that pertain to language itself (ideology about language). We also draw attention to the way language form and language use can encode and sustain ideological beliefs, often in ways that are not easy to observe. Lastly, we discuss the role of education in perpetuating such ideological beliefs and in raising awareness of their role with a view to enabling a transformative outlook.

Ideological processes of language standardisation in education

Kostoulas, A. (2021). Ιδεολογικοί μηχανισμοί γλωσσικής προτυποποίησης στην εκπαίδευση: Ποια αγγλικά διδάσκονται στο σχολείο; [Ideological processes of language standardisation in education: what kind of English is taught at school?]. In E. Motsiou, E. Vasilaki, E. Gana & A. Kostoulas (eds), Ιδεολογίες, Γλωσσική Επικοινωνία και Εκπαίδευση [Ideologies, Linguistic Communication & Education] (pp. 162-189). Gutenberg.

This chapter takes a critical look at the coursebooks that are used in English Language Teaching in the Greek state education system, in order to unveil the way in which these sustain an ideology of linguistic conservatism. By looking at the curriculum aims, the content, the tasks and the assessment activities included in the book, I note the traces of a number of processes (which I call ideological processes of language standardisation) with valorise standard language forms and understate linguistic and cultural diversity. The chapter concludes by discussing the pedagogical implications of these processes and suggesting alternatives.

The chapter is a revised version of a paper presented at the Ideologies, Linguistic Communication and Education conference that took place in Volos in October 2019.

Translanguaging interaction phenomena

Motsiou, E. & Kostoulas, A. (2021, to appear). Φαινόμενα διαγλωσσικής αλληλεπίδρασης: Περιγραφές και ερμηνείες [Translanguaging interaction phenomena]. In Διγλωσσία: Γλωσσική ανάπτυξη και εκπαιδευτικές προεκτάσεις [Bilingualism: Language development and implications for education]. Hellenic University Press.

This book chapter reviews research in the linguistic output of bilingual and multilingual speakers, which is variously described as code-switching, code-mixing and translanguaging. The chapter discusses overlaps and key differences between the terms, and juxtaposes form-focussed and usage-focussed perspectives.


Family Language Policy in Mixed-Language Families

Kostoulas, A. & Motsiou, E. (2020). Family language policy in mixed-language families: An exploratory study of online parental discourses. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. Advance Access. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2020.1715915

  • In this article we describe the language policies of mixed language families. We conceptualise family language policy as having two components: language ideology, i.e., beliefs and attitudes about language and plurilingualism, and language transmission and management, i.e., the practices used in these families to help children learn multiple languages.
  • Data were drawn from two online communities for mixed-language family parents / caregivers. One of these communities consisted mostly of plurilingual families living in Greek-speaking communities (Greece and Cyprus). The other community was more international in scope, but we focussed only on families where Greek was one of the family languages.
  • An early version of this paper was presented in the 40th Annual Meeting of Greek Linguists. This article builds on the conference presentation, by adding more data and a more refined theoretical frame.

Resilience in language teaching: Adaptive and maladaptive outcomes

Kostoulas, A. and Lämmerer, A. (2020). Resilience in language teaching: Adaptive and maladaptive outcomes in pre-service teachers. In C. Gkonou, J. King, & J.-M. Dewaele. (eds), The Emotional Rollercoaster of Language Teaching (pp. 89-110). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

  • This chapter is part of the resilience project that I coordinated during my tenure at the University of Graz.
  • In the chapter, we argue that, as individuals-who-teach develop resilience, their coping mechanisms might make them more suitable, or less, suitable for their professional roles as teachers. We call these processes adaptive and maladaptive resilience.
  • We go on to describe a theoretical model of resilience that brings together all the resources that produce resilience, and push individuals towards adaptive or maladaptive developmental trajectories.


Educators’ Attitudes towards Research and Professional Development

Kostoulas, A., Babić, S., Glettler, C., Karner, A., Mercer, S., & Seidl, E. (2019). Lost in Research: Educators’ Attitudes towards Research and Professional Development. Teacher Development, 29(3), 307-324 doi: 10.1080/13664530.2019.1614655

  • This paper reports on a study that examined how educators in Austria conceptualise research, how they engage with academic literature, and what attitudes they have towards academic development.
  • This paper grew out of a research methods seminar, conducted by Prof. Mercer at the University of Graz. Most authors were participants in the seminar, and were involved in conducting the literature review, formulating the research design and generating the data, under Prof. Mercer’s guidance. I was invited to provide statistical expertise and write up the article.

Editorial contributions to Challenging Boundaries in Language Education

Repositioning language education theory

Kostoulas, A. (2019). Repositioning language education theory. In Kostoulas, A. (ed.) Challenging Boundaries in Language Education (pp. 33-50). Cham: Springer.

  • This is a conceptual contribution that puts forward a framework for describing language education theory as an interdisciplinary synthesis of applied linguistics, language education psychology, and pedagogy.
  • The chapter builds on the invited plenary talk I delivered in the ELT Connect 2017 conference in Graz.


TESOL researchers reflecting on complexity

Kostoulas, A. & Mercer, S. (2018). TESOL researchers reflecting on complexity. Theory and Practice in Second Language Acquisition 4(2), 109-127. 

  • This article synthesises reflective narratives from eight researchers and educators (including the authors), who take stock of the impact of Complex Dynamics Systems Theory in language education.
  • Written on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the publication of Dianne Larsen-Freeman and Lynne Cameron’s seminal volume Complex Systems in Applied Linguistics, the article explores how complexity thinking evolved in the field of language education, the challenges it poses and the opportunities it affords us.

Editorial contributions to Language Teacher Psychology

  • Mercer, S. and Kostoulas, A. (2018). ‘Introduction to Language Teacher Psychology’. In Mercer S. and Kostoulas, A. (eds), Language Teacher Psychology (pp. 1-17). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  • Kostoulas, A. and Mercer, S. (2018). ‘Conclusion: Lessons learned, promising perspectives’. In Mercer S. and Kostoulas, A. (eds), Language Teacher Psychology (pp. 330-337). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

Resilience as a process of growth

Kostoulas, A. & A. Lämmerer. (2018). ‘Making the transition into teacher education: Resilience as a process of growth’. In S. Mercer & A. Kostoulas (eds), Language Teacher Psychology (pp. 247-263). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

  • In this chapter, which appears in Language Teacher Psychology, Anita Lämmerer and I look into the construct of resilience, i.e., the ability people have to bounce back after adversity.
  • In the chapter, we put forward a conceptualisation of resilience as an emergent process, which comes into being from the interaction of trait-like characteristics, relationships and learned coping strategies.
  • We then use a case study of a teacher educator, who was going through a transition phase in her career, in order to illustrate how resilience functions in the face of low-level but persistent stressors.

Complex Systems Theory as a Shared Discourse Space for TESOL

Kostoulas, A., Stelma, J., Mercer, S., Cameron, L., and Dawson, S. (2018). Complex Systems Theory as a Shared Discourse Space for TESOLTESOL Journal, 9(2), 246-260. doi: 10.1002/tesj.317

  • In this article, we explore how insights from complex systems theory might resonate with the experience of TESOL practitioners and argue that complexity can function as a shared discourse space where connections might be drawn between research and practice.
  • The article grew out of a meeting between TESOL practitioners and researchers at the Manchester Roundtable on Complexity Theory and English Language Teaching.
  • It builds on that discussion by exploring how language education practices and processes that are familiar to education practitioners and researchers can be understood in complexity-informed terms. To that end, we outline elements of complex systems theory that can be shown to resonate with what TESOL educators already know. These include a discussion of what complex systems are, how they operate, and how they evolve, all of which are illustrated with examples from research and language education experiences.
  • We show that the complexity-informed perspective they outline can provide teachers and researchers alike with an interpretive frame that may make more accessible the interconnected, sometimes unpredictable, invariably creative, and intuitively recognisable nature of language education.


Understanding curriculum change in an ELT school in Greece

Kostoulas, A. and Stelma, J. (2017). Understanding curriculum change in an ELT school in GreeceELT Journal 71(3), 354-363. doi: 10.1093/elt/ccw087

  • This article reports on a case study of a language school in Greece, with a view to putting forward an understanding of the drivers that sustain or delay curricular innovation. Key to this understanding is the construct of intentionality, defined as ‘purposes’ that drive teaching and learning activity. In the article, we describe three main intentionalities that were present in the language school: (1) ‘credentialism’, an imperative to provide learners with certification; (2) ‘supplementation’, a drive to attain learning outcomes that students failed to attain in the state school system; and (3) ‘protectionism’, an unstated agenda of maintaining the status of local Greek L1 ELT practitioners. We describe how these intentionalities generated fluctuating dynamics, from which different pedagogical patterns emerged. Finally, we discuss the implications of this perspective for understanding and managing change and innovation in ELT settings.
  • The article builds on previous work that was presented at the Manchester Roundtable and 7th BAAL LLT SIG conference, and draws on data that were originally published in my thesis.


Fifteen years of research on self & identity in System

Kostoulas, A. and Mercer, S. (2016). Fifteen years of research on self & identity in System. System, 60,  128-134. doi: 10.1016/j.system.2016.04.002

This is the second in a series of Virtual Special Issues published by System, which showcase selected articles that have appeared in the journal. In this issue, we focus on the psychological construct of the self in language teaching and learning, as viewed from diverse theoretical perspectives. Forty articles published in the last 15 years were reviewed, of which ten were selected for inclusion in this issue, taking into account their impact, their conceptual salience or their potential to exemplify theoretical developments in the field.

Intentionality and Complex Systems Theory:

Kostoulas, A., & Stelma, J. (2016). Intentionality and complex systems theory: A new direction for language learning psychology. In C. Gkonou, D. Tatzl, D., & S. Mercer (Eds.), New directions in language learning psychology (pp. 7-23). Cham: Springer.

  • This chapter examines the combined potential of the concept of ‘intentionality’ and ‘complex systems theory’ as a new theoretical direction for language learning psychology. The explanatory and predictive utility of the combined constructs for language learning psychology is then illustrated by juxtaposing two case studies, from Norway and Greece.


Intentional Dynamics in TESOL: An Ecological Perspective

Stelma, J., Onat-Stelma, Z., Lee, W. &Kostoulas, A. (2015). Intentional dynamics in TESOL: An ecological perspective. Teachers College, Columbia University Working Papers in TESOL and Applied Linguistics, 15(1), 14-32.

  • This paper puts forward a conceptual model of intentionality, which builds on previous work on ecological psychology. A re-analysis of previously published data is used to demonstrate the relevance of the model to TESOL.


Understanding and Challenging ‘the Known’

Kostoulas, A. (2014). A Greek Tragedy: Understanding and Challenging ‘the Known’ From a Complexity Perspective. In Rivers, D. (ed.) Resistance to the Known: Counter-Conduct in Foreign Language EducationHoundmills: Palgrave Macmillan.

  • This chapter synthesises empirical data and post-modern theorisations in order to describe English Language Teaching (ELT) as a locally embedded global phenomenon. The overall aims of the chapter are to encourage teaching professionals to reflect on how established practice (the ‘Known’) sustains and is sustained by vested interests, and to encourage them to move beyond (or ‘resist’) it through pedagogically and politically appropriate praxis.
  • If you are interested in getting a copy of the book, please consider following clicking on the button below to make your purchase. I reclaim 4% of the cover price for every purchase made from my referrals, which I use to fund this blog.


Constructing small-t theories in Greek ELT

Kostoulas, A. (2011). From applying Theory to theorising practice: Constructing small-t theories in Greek ELT. Aspects Today 32, 14-21.

  • This invited article builds on the talk delivered at ‘Empowering Language Teaching’ professional development day, which was organised by the Panhellenic [Greek National] Association of State School Teachers of English [ΠΕΚΑΔΕ].
  • In the article, I contrasted (Capital-T) Theory, or research-driven narratives about language education, with (small-t) theory, for a practice-first approach to developing personal understandings of our professional existence.

Navigating a pathway to partnership

Breen, P.B., De Stefani, M. and Kostoulas, A. (2011). ‘Navigating a pathway to partnership through turbulent seas of adversity.’ In Tripathi, P. and Mukerji, S. (eds.). Cases on Innovations in Educational Marketing (pp. 273-294). Hershey PA.: IGI Global.

  • This chapter was a collaborative project written with two close colleagues during the early stages of my PhD studies.
  • It describes aspects of our collaboration as we engaged with our assessed coursework, using the Community of Practice framework.
  • All authors contributed equally to the publication and are listed in alphabetical order.
  • The chapter was short-listed for The University of Manchester Student Partnership Awards 2010.

English as a Lingua Franca & Methodological Tension

Kostoulas, A. (2010). English as a Lingua Franca & methodological tension in a language school in Greece. in esse 1(1), 91-112.

  • This is the first article I published. Despite its imperfections, it is one that I am still very fond of.
  • In the article, I use qualitative methods to juxtapose official policy in a language school in Greece, which adhered closely to normative assumptions about the standard language, and actual practice, which was closer to the ELF model.
  • This article is a revised and expanded version of the paper presented at the ‘Said and Unsaid’ conference at the University of Vlorë in September 2011.
  • You can read some information about the peer-review process that shaped the final form of the article in this blogpost.

Image: Inside view of the Stockholm Public Library, Wikipedia

Create a website or blog at