Book of Abstracts – Icfsla


Antonio Damasio, famed neuroscientist/neurobiologist once said, “I continue to be fascinated by the fact that feelings are not just the shady side of reason but that they help us reach decisions as well” (2005). On another occasion, he stated, “Rather than being a luxury, emotions are a very intelligent way of driving an organism toward certain outcomes” (2001). That said, emotions are a critical dimension in language learning and teaching. They guide our decision-making and drive our outcomes. Attempting to teach a target language without considering learners’ emotional and psychological dimensions is like... One of the problems with our historical approach to emotions in language teaching and learning was that we tended to concentrate our efforts on eradicating negative emotions like language anxiety without considering how the whole array of positive emotions might be strategically used. We understand that language learners suffering negative emotions like anxiety tend to focus their attention on getting rid of the threat through avoiding interaction, engaging in negative self-talk, ruminating over poor performance, missing class, procrastinating on assignments, freezing up during speaking activities, forgetting previously learned material and other behaviors posing a detriment to learning. Negative emotion, therefore, have a narrowing effect (Fredrickson, 2002). But what would happen if we strategically tapped into positive emotion? Fredrickson hypothesizes that positive emotions have a broadening effect on our momentary thought-action repertoires, discarding automatic responses and looking for creative, flexible and maybe even unpredictable new ways of thinking and acting. Hence, a pedagogical implication is that positive emotions may have an undoing effect on the residue of negative emotions. Fredrickson stated, “The psychological broadening sparked by one positive emotion can increase an individual’s receptiveness to subsequent pleasant or meaningful events, increasing the odds that the individual will find positive meaning in these subsequent events and experience additional positive emotions” (2000, p. 16). In heeding Martin Seligman’s plea to “broaden the scope of positive psychology well beyond the smiley face” (2011), several of us in applied linguistics took up the gauntlet to examine and test the effects of positive psychology interventions in the language learning classroom. My presentation will bring together the results of numerous studies in which interventions were incorporated into pre-service language teacher training and language learning classrooms, and will provide the preliminary results of an instance of incorporating them into the treatment of a bilingual selectively mute child. These interventions include using music, pets, altruism, gratitude, laughter, and exercise, among others. I will conclude with ideas for other possible language classroom activities and a vision for future positive psychology research that continues to examine the efficacy of language classroom interventions.

Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Gregersen2015BookOA, title={Book of Abstracts – Icfsla}, author={Tammy S. Gregersen and Hanna Komorowska}, year={2015} }