A Lens into the Psychological Experiences of Learners and Teachers in Integrated Content and Language Settings

This month we published The Psychological Experience of Integrating Content and Language edited by Kyle Read Talbot, Marie-Theres Gruber and Rieko Nishida. In this post Kyle explains how the book came about.

The three of us (Kyle, Marie-Theres, and Rieko) are all interested in the psychological factors that impact language learning and teaching. As such, we are thrilled that our edited collection, The Psychological Experience of Integrating Content and Language, has found a home as a part of Multilingual Matters’ Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series. We happen to think that this book offers a unique perspective into what we believe is an under-researched area; namely, how learners and teachers think and feel about teaching in integrated content and language (ICL) settings (e.g. FMI/EMI, CLIL, CBI, etc.). This collection of research papers covers a diverse range of settings and educational levels and topics such as the self and identity, cognition, learner and teacher beliefs, challenges and opportunities of learning and teaching in ICL programs, well-being, and self-efficacy, as well as professional development, classroom interventions and implementations.

The idea for this collection came together quickly. Kyle and Marie-Theres were working together as part of a nationally funded research project in Austria (ÖNB fund no. 17136) with several wonderful colleagues (thanks all!). The primary focus of this research project was on teacher well-being in CLIL settings across educational levels in Austria. Essentially, we were curious as to how CLIL contexts impacted the way teachers felt about their teaching in these settings, how this affected their lives on a more holistic level, and whether they were thriving in their roles or merely rolling with the punches. The primary investigator, Sarah Mercer, presented some of the preliminary findings of this research project as part of a symposium at the PLL3 conference in Tokyo. As it happened, Rieko was also featured in that symposium and was also researching CLIL settings. Before too long we were all brainstorming about a possible edited collection to house some of the work from our various research projects.

So why did we choose to center this collection of research papers on the psychological experiences of learners and teachers in ICL contexts specifically? Put simply, we view ICL programs as forms of educational innovations. Educational innovations have the potential to be destabilizing for learners and teachers (though they can also be enriching or everything in between). We are also aware that ICL settings are rapidly expanding globally and across levels of education. In speaking to the spread of EMI in higher education specifically, Macaro, Curle, Pun, An, and Dearden (2018) suggest that, “it is hard to see anything but further expansion of EMI in HE” (p. 68). In our view, the same can be said for other ICL program types across educational levels. With this in mind, we think some urgency is needed in addressing how these programs impact the experiences of the learners and teachers and we hope this collection is a small step in that direction. We think this collection of papers will be informative for teachers who find themselves teaching in various ICL settings, researchers interested in the integration of content and language or the psychology of language learning and teaching, and policymakers who may be faced with decisions of how to implement an ICL program in their context.

In sum, we are incredibly proud of this collection and excited that it has made its way into the world. We hope that this book finds its way onto many bookshelves and serves as a spark for future ideas and research in this domain and beyond.

Kyle Read Talbot

kylereadtalbot@gmail.com

For more information about this book please see our website.

If you found this interesting, you might also like Investigating Content and Language Integrated Learning edited by Liss Kerstin Sylvén.

How do Editors and Potential Contributors to a Volume Find Each Other?

We recently held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre.

How do you go about finding contributors for an edited volume? What about new researchers who want to publish a chapter in an edited collection? How can they find out about relevant collections? 

Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre

This question has two parts, the first part is from the editors’ perspective. Finding contributors often is a matter of reading the literature and getting to know the people working in an area, including those who shape the history of a field and the recent work as well. Sometimes, as an editor, you hit on an idea whose time has come, and contributors are excited to be part of a collection that recognizes the emergence of a new research area or integrates work on a topic that seems to require it.  When an editor has a good idea for a book, new and established scholars alike will want to be part of it. When inviting contributors, especially people who have established themselves in a field, it is important to give enough time to allow them to write a contribution. An editor might also entice contributions with an innovative or flexible format.

From a contributor’s perspective, one way you find out about publishing opportunities is to watch for calls for papers. These might come via an association or mailing list. Perhaps the most popular mailing list is LinguistList. If you follow authors in your field, they might put out a call on social media. Not all books provide an open call for papers, as some are by-invitation only. But there might still be collaboration opportunities with faculty members. A new researcher can join up with an experienced researcher or mentor as a co-author, if they know you are interested.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

Journal Article or Book Chapter? How to Decide…

We recently held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre.

How do you decide whether to submit an article to an academic journal or mould it into a chapter?

Ali H. Al-Hoorie and Peter D. MacIntyre

One consideration is preferences in your discipline or university for one format or the other, for purposes of landing a position, then getting promotion and tenure. In the humanities, for example, monographs (books) may be considered more valued than articles, and the reverse may be true in the social sciences. That is not always the case, but each researcher might ask senior colleagues about the relative value placed on different formats.

A second consideration is content-related. The peer review process for articles can be quite strict as a journal has a limited number of pages per issue and a continuous stream of submitted papers. In some cases journals have very high rejection rates (80-90%) so the review process may decline good papers because they don’t fit exactly within the scope of the journal or its preferences (e.g. journals often have preferred methodologies). A chapter, which is often invited by an editor as part of a collection of papers, is more likely to offer the writer a little more freedom to explore ideas. Manuscripts that are theoretical in nature may not be as welcome at a journal that focuses on research papers as they would be in an edited collection. Another consideration is of course the reach of a paper and who you think the most suitable audience is.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

What are Editors Looking for in a Proposal when Deciding Whether to Publish a Book or Not?

We recently held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by series editors Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan.

What are editors looking for in a proposal when deciding whether to publish a book or not?

Sarah Mercer
The key thing is a contribution that belongs in the series you’re submitting your proposal to, so in our case, it must be about the psychology of language learning and teaching. It should have something original to say and the authors need to show that they can identify the gap their research is filling.

Your proposal should be relevant for a global market – it can be researched at a local level but must be reflected on in global terms too. It must be professional in terms of writing and content and should be worthy of book-length treatment and not something that could be covered by an article. It should have a clear coherent thread running through it – something to watch out for especially with an edited collection.

Stephen Ryan
In the case of a proposal from an early-career academic, the initial question we are asking is along the lines of “Do we believe this person can deliver a first-class manuscript?” We only have a few pages on which to make that evaluation. We go to each proposal in a positive state of mind; we are looking to encourage publication, not prevent it. It may sound obvious, but a professional presentation of your proposal is important. Careless mistakes, such as errors with names or dates of works cited or clumsily copied chunks of text, start to raise red flags. Basic care and attention make a difference.

Once we start considering the content of a proposal, we are looking for a clear idea; what is the proposed book about and where does it fit within the existing literature? What is unique about the proposed book? Who is likely to be interested in the proposed book?

My own personal view is that reading academic works should not be an ordeal. Reading should be a pleasant, rewarding experience. Evidence of a clear, engaging writing style is always welcome.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

How Do You Prepare a Successful Proposal as an Early Career Academic? 

Last month we held an online event with series editors and authors from our Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series about publishing their books, with an opportunity for audience questions at the end. Here’s a taster of one of the questions that was discussed, answered by series editors Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan.

How do you prepare a successful proposal as an early career academic? 

Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan

Perhaps the biggest challenge in preparing a book proposal is adapting your research to a very different kind of audience than that of a PhD. As an early-career academic, your potential audience is likely to be unfamiliar with you or your work. That potential audience needs to be persuaded to engage with your work and needs to be persuaded quickly. This means that the scope and purpose of your book must be clear and you must ensure that the findings are relevant beyond the immediate local setting – they must have something to say globally.

When preparing your proposal, it may be a useful strategy to formulate a very brief explanation of your book and why someone should read it – an elevator pitch, if you like. Once you have this in mind, you can use it as a guide for writing the proposal; make sure your proposal does not divert too far from these central ideas.

The proposal should be professionally presented and follow the template provided on the website by Multilingual Matters. It needs to be offering something fresh and appealing to a global audience, so the proposal should make clear what gap it is filling. We would recommend giving your proposal to colleagues for feedback and getting them to ask you questions about it. If you can get hold of examples of past successful proposals, that can help to give you an idea of what is expected.

Take time to get the proposal right, which means getting clarity in your own mind about what exactly you intend and what your main message is. In many respects, a proposal is a unique genre of writing: your task is to present complicated and nuanced ideas clearly and briefly. It is a very difficult balance. When struggling with that balance it is probably better to lean towards the side of clarity and brevity, but a little careful wording can help show that you aware of complexities.

One more point worth thinking about is your title. An attractive, memorable title can go a long way to getting the prospective reader to engage with your work.

You can watch the recording of the event and find out the answers to the rest of the audience questions here:

The Importance of Language Teacher Psychology

This month we published Language Teacher Psychology edited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas. In this post, the book’s editors introduce us to the collection.

Language learners are the end recipients who should benefit from everything we do, so it is perhaps unsurprising that they have been the focus of much of our work as language educators. However, as we explored the teacher-learner relationship, we have become aware that teacher psychology can also have considerable influence on the teachers’ ability to teach as effectively and creatively as possible, as well as on their learners’ psychology. But what do we really know about teachers’ motivations, their emotions, wellbeing, and thinking?

As we looked more closely at what has been published to date, we did find some fascinating, relatively well-explored lines of inquiry, but we also discovered that there was not nearly the same depth, breadth or complexity of research that exists for learners and their psychologies. We felt that this gap was disconcerting, especially in the light of the challenges within the teaching profession, and we were keen to explore how the constructs that were being used in language learner psychology might also apply to teachers. It was encouraging that our concerns and motivations for this volume were shared by other scholars in the field, whose enthusiastic response to our invitation has helped to make this such a rich and diverse collection.

The structure of this book reflects these concerns and attempts to address them. The first few chapters offer new insights into aspects of language teacher psychology that have already received some attention in research, such as motivation and identity. The next set of contributions broadens the agenda by looking into aspects that have only more recently begun to be examined. The third part of the book explores a relatively new line of inquiry considering how insights from positive psychology can be applied to language teaching. The final chapter illustrates how language teacher psychology can be studied as an integrated whole and not just as a collection of fragmented constructs.

As editors, we feel privileged to have worked with such great scholars who contributed their time and insights to the collection. We hope that readers derive as much enjoyment as we did by engaging with the chapters that make up the book. We also hope that it generates more research, more discussion, and more awareness of the importance of language teacher psychology. Indeed, the new book series Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching, would welcome contributions that extend this discussion. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about the book, you might want to take a look at the table of contents which are found at the bottom of this page.

Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas

If you found this interesting, you may be interested in Positive Psychology in SLA edited by Peter D. MacIntyre, Tammy Gregersen and Sarah Mercer. You can also find more information on Language Teacher Psychology on our website.

New series: Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching

In January 2018 we will be publishing Language Teacher Psychology edited by Sarah Mercer and Achilleas Kostoulas, which is the first book in our new series, Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching. In this post, series editors Sarah Mercer and Stephen Ryan introduce the new series and explain the inspiration behind it. 

Both of us started our careers in the classroom as language teachers and it was there that we first developed our fascination with the differences we noted in how our learners approached their learning … or did not, as the case may be. Little did we know back then just where that fascination would take us. From those initial sparks began an ongoing interest in language learning psychology. Our curiosity led us to seek ways to understand what made our learners tick and, somewhat inadvertently, into the exciting world of educational psychology. Once exposed to these – at least to us – new ideas, we then became interested in how best to apply these insights in our teaching. It was classroom practice that triggered our early interest and that practical focus continues to be a key driver for us in our research and we hope in this new Multilingual Matters series too.

Over time, our own understandings of psychology have grown and become – we like to think – more nuanced. In the same way, and over a similar timeframe, a new academic field has grown, both in scale and sophistication, around in interest in the Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching (PLLT). One of the great joys for us in recent years has been the discovery of many like-minded, curious teachers/teacher-researchers/researchers looking to explore the potential of educational psychology theory and research in an attempt to better understand language teaching and learning. For many years, discussions of psychology in language education were dominated by the concept of learner motivation and while that remains a key area of inquiry, we are now seeing a whole range of other topics moving into focus. In addition to motivation, the new field covers various dimensions of the self, identity, affect, cognition, attributions, personality, strategies, self-regulation, and agency among others. A distinguishing trait of this new field is that it seeks to explore the connections between these concepts as opposed to separating them from each other and attempting to analyse them in isolation. Another key shift has been a growing attention to teacher psychology. While there is a strong body of research in certain areas, large domains of teacher psychology have remained almost completely unexamined in the field of language education. Given the tight connections between learner and teacher psychology, it is surprising we know so little about what makes such key stakeholders in classroom life function and potentially flourish in their professional roles.

The first book in the series, Language Teacher Psychology

As a part of the emergence of this new field, there has been an accompanying increase in the number of publications with a PLLT focus. At first, these were scattered across publishing houses, but we felt that there was a need to bring them together under one roof to make it easier for people to find related works, to see connections across areas of research and practice, and to foster cooperation rather than further fragmentation. Multilingual Matters already housed many key PLLT publications within its broader SLA series and it is from that highly successful series that the new PLLT was born. The birth of the new PLLT series has coincided with the further growth of a biennial conference dedicated to the field as well as the formation of a professional association for those working in the area. It is tremendously exciting to witness the new series taking shape and we feel enormously privileged to be a part of this innovative new project. We can already see some thrilling publications on the horizon as academics from across the globe come forward to share their work on PLLT through the series. We hope you will enjoy reading the books that will make up the new series and we also hope that some of you may consider making your own contribution in the future.

For more information about the Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series, please see our website. Book proposals for this series should be sent to Laura Longworth.