Love and enjoyment in context: Four case studies of adolescent EFL learners

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Liana Maria Pavelescu
Bojana Petrić


This study explores the foreign language learning emotions of four EFL adolescent students in Romania and the ways in which their emotions emerge in their sociocultural context. Multiple qualitative methods were employed over a school semester, including a written task, semi-structured interviews with the learners and their teachers, lesson observations and English-related events outside the classroom. It was found that, while all four participants reported experiencing positive emotions in language learning, a distinction was identified in the intensity and stability of their emotions. Two participants expressed a strong and stable emotion of love towards English, while the other two participants experienced enjoyment in their English language learning without an intense emotional attachment to English. Unlike enjoyment, love was found to be the driving force in the learning process, creating effective coping mechanisms when there was a lack of enjoyment in certain classroom situations and motivating learners to invest greater effort into language learning in and out of the classroom. The findings thus revealed that, unlike enjoyment, love broadened cognition and maintained engagement in learning. The study emphasizes the role of strong, enduring positive emotions in teenage students’ language learning process.


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Author Biographies

Liana Maria Pavelescu, Guildford College

Liana Maria Pavelescu is an ESOL Tutor at Guildford College, UK. She holds a PhD in language teaching from Birkbeck, University of London, UK. Her research interests include emotions and motivation in foreign language learning, the psychology of language learning and professional development in foreign language teaching.


Bojana Petrić, Birkbeck, University of London

Bojana Petrić is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. Her research interests are multilingual writers’ academic literacy practices and experiences. She has co-authored Experiencing Master’s Supervision: Perspectives of International Students and their Supervisors with Nigel Harwood (2017, Routlege) and co-edited Thinking Home: Interdisciplinary Dialogues with Sanja Bahun (2018, Bloomsbury). She has recently co-founded the Professional, Academic, and Work-Based Literacies SIG within the British Association for Applied Linguistics. She is the Book Reviews Editor for Journal of English for Academic Purposes and recently served as Deputy Chair of the European Association for the Teaching of Academic Writing.


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