Selected Plenary

Language learners' emotion-regulation strategies

Jakub Bielak and Anna Mystkowska-Wiertelak
Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznan, Poland

(This paper was selected by the Scientific Committee of the conference. If you wanted your abstract to be considered for this award, it should have been indicated in the abstract submission template.)


Despite the sustained interest of education and language learning researchers in learner emotions (e.g., Dewaele & MacIntyre, 2014, 2016; Gkonou, Daubney, & Dewaele, 2017; Pekrun, 2014; Zeidner, 1998) and learner self-regulation (e.g., Boekaerts, Pintrich, & Zeidner, 2000; Griffiths, 2013; Oxford, 2011, 2017; Winne & Hadwin, 2008; Zimmerman, 1990, 2008; Zimmerman & Schunk, 2011), the regulation of emotions for successful learning has been underresearched, with just a handful of studies in existence (e.g., Gkonou, 2015; Oxford, 2017; Webster & Hadwin, 2015; Wolters, 2003). An innovative scenario-based research tool called Managing Your Emotions for Language Learning (MYE) developed by Gkonou and Oxford (2016) may help fill this research gap, particularly in the area of language learning. It taps into different affective (emotion-regulation) strategies related to both positive and negative emotions which language learners employ in various L2 learning situations. It is based on the so-called vignette methodology (Collet & Childs, 2011; Hughes, 1998), in which participants respond to a series of scenarios (vignettes) by listing the emotions and emotion-regulation strategies they would employ or have employed in these situations. An international validation effort concerning MYE is currently under way (Gkonou & Oxford, 2017; Kantaridou & Psaltou-Joycey, 2017; Bielak & Mystkowska-Wiertelak, 2017). Bielak and Mystkowska-Wiertelak (2017) attempted to apply and validate this tool in the context of Polish tertiary-level education. This rendered a wealth of data concerning the emotions learners experience and the emotion regulation strategies they use to boost positive and deal with negative L2-related emotions. In the present paper we discuss some of the same kind of data obtained from an extended sample of 120 participants, which, to gain deeper insight into L2 leaner emotions and strategies, we have complemented by data from semi-structured interviews with selected student participants (n = 15) and their teachers (n = 10). In the interviews we delved into the emotions experienced and emotion-regulation strategies employed by the participants both in class and in self-study. The theoretical model used for analyzing the affective strategies for language learning is Gross’ (1998, 2015) process model of emotion regulation, as proposed by Oxford (2017). The results suggest that the strategies used should be classified further beyond Gross’ and Oxford’s categories of situation selection/modification, attention deployment, cognitive reappraisal, response modification and meaning making strategies, as done by Webster & Hadwin (2015). We also attempt to relate the strategies used to learner emotions and investigate their student-perceived effectiveness. The results reveal among other things relatively broad strategic repertoires of language learners in the area of emotion regulation, with some strategies, however, being used much more often (e.g., cognitive reappraisal to the effect that language errors are perceived as “normal”) than others (e.g., response modification in the form of emotional suppression); and participants’ high level of confidence in the effectiveness of their strategies. We discuss the pedagogical implications of the results, and the challenges and prospects of research in this area having to do with the difficulty of collecting high quality data relating to the highly sensitive learner emotions and related strategies.

Bielak, J., & Mystkowska-Wiertelak, A. (2017, September). Emotion-regulation strategies in the Polish educational context. Paper presented at the 2nd Situating Strategy Use Conference (SSU2), Komotini, Greece.
Boekaerts, M., Pintrich, P. R., & Zeidner, M. (Eds.). (2000). Handbook of self-regulation. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Collett, J. L., & Childs, E. (2011). Minding the gap: Meaning, affect, and the potential shortcomings of vignettes. Social Science Research, 40 , 513-522.
Dewaele, J.-M., & MacIntyre, P. D. (2014). Two faces of Janus? Anxiety and enjoyment in the foreign language classroom. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 4, 237-274.
Dewaele, J.-M., & MacIntyre, P. D. (2016). Foreign language enjoyment and foreign language classroom anxiety: The right and left feet of the language learner. In P. D. MacIntyre, T. Gregersen, & S. Mercer (Eds.), Positive psychology in SLA (pp. 193-214). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Gkonou, C. (2015, October). Listening to highly anxious EFL learners. Paper presented at the 1st Situating Strategy Use Conference (SSU1): The Interplay of Language Learning Strategies and Individual Learner Differences, Alpen-Adria Universität, Klagenfurt, Austria.
Gkonou, C., Daubney, M., & Dewaele, J.-M. (2017). New insights into language anxiety: Theory, research and educational implications. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Gkonou, C., & Oxford, R. L. (2016). Questionnaire: Managing Your Emotions for Language Learning. University of Essex, UK.
Gkonou, C., & Oxford, R. L. (2017, September). Innovation in assessing language learners’ emotion-regulation strategies: the managing your emotions (MYE) questionnaire. Paper presented at the 2nd Situating Strategy Use Conference (SSU2), Komotini, Greece.
Griffiths, C. (2013). The strategy factor in successful language learning. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
Gross, J. (1998). Antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation: Divergent consequences for experience, expression, and physiology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 74, 224-237.
Gross, J. (2014). Emotion regulation: Conceptual and empirical foundations. In J. Gross (Ed.), Handbook of emotion regulation (2nd ed., pp. 3-22). New York: Guilford.
Hughes, R. (1998). Considering the vignette technique and its application to a study of drug injecting and HIV risk and safer behaviour. Sociology of Health and Illness, 20, 381-400.
Kantaridou, Z., & Psaltou-Joycey, A. (2017, September). Emotion-regulation strategies of Greek EFL students in HE. Paper presented at the 2nd Situating Strategy Use Conference (SSU2), Komotini, Greece.
Oxford, R. L. (2011). Teaching and researching language learning strategies. Harlow: Longman.
Oxford, R. L. (2017). Teaching and researching language learning strategies: Self-regulation in context (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.
Pekrun, R. (2014). Emotions and learning. Brussels: International Bureau of Education.
Webster, E. A., & Hadwin, A. F. (2015). Emotions and emotions regulation in undergraduate studying: Examining students’ reports from a self-regulated learning perspective. Educational Psychology, 35(7), 794-818.
Winne, P. H., & Hadwin, A. F. (2008). The weave of motivation and self-regulated learning. In D. H. Schunk, & B. J. Zimmerman (Eds.), Motivation and self-regulated learning: Theory, research and applications (pp. 297-314). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.
Wolters, C. A. (2003). Regulation of motivation: Evaluating an underemphasized aspect of self-regulated learning. Educational Psychologist, 38(4), 189-205.
Zeidner, M. (1998). Test anxiety: The state of the art. New York: Kluwer.
Zimmerman, B. J. (1990). Self-regulated learning and academic achievement: An overview. Educational Psychologist, 25(1), 3-17.
Zimmerman, B. J. (2008). Investigating self-regulation and motivation: Historical background, methodological developments, and future prospects. American Educational Research Journal, 45, 166-183.
Zimmerman, B. J., & Schunk, D. H. (Eds.). (2011). Handbook of self-regulation of learning and performance. New York, NY: Routledge.