The Future of
English Language
Teaching Conference

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Wellbeing at the heart of language teaching: Teacher and learner perspectives

Sarah Mercer

Saturday 11 June, 15:45 - 16:30 (UK time)


The pandemic has drawn attention the critical role played by wellbeing in teaching and learning. In this talk, I make plea not to lose sight of this vital ingredient of good practice as we move forward. I begin by outlining a timeline of research on language teacher wellbeing and consider lessons learned from the pandemic research that we can draw on for future practice. I explore what we know about learner wellbeing and its effects on engagement and learning outcomes. We then reflect on ways in which language education could incorporate the teaching of wellbeing competences, not only to enhance language learning in the present but as a core life skill for students’ futures. I describe Positive Language Education (PLE) which is a dual-focused approach for teaching life skills and language. Importantly, we look at how language teacher and learner wellbeing are two sides of the same coin - we cannot address one without the other. In sum, we already know that good teaching, management, and learning comes from more than knowing linguistic forms. Now it is time to consciously and explicitly put wellbeing at the heart of our professional practice. In this talk, I argue why we must do this as a matter of urgency and offer practical suggestions of how this can be done.







Sarah Mercer


Sarah Mercer is Professor of Foreign Language Teaching at the University of Graz, Austria, where she is Head of ELT methodology. Her research interests include all aspects of the psychology surrounding the foreign language learning experience. She is the author, co-author and co-editor of several books in this area including, ‘Exploring Psychology for Language Teachers’ (Winner of the IH Ben Warren Prize), ‘Teacher Wellbeing’ (ELTon Finalist), and Engaging Language Learners in Contemporary Classrooms (ELTon Finalist). She has also published over 150 book chapters and journal articles and has served as Principal Investigator on several funded research projects. In 2018, she was awarded the Robert C. Gardner Award for excellence in second language research by the International Association of Language and Social Psychology (IALSP).



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