Through the looking glass of student perception: How foreign language students see teacher trait emotional intelligence and why it matters

Main Article Content

Sharona Moskowitz
Jean-Marc Dewaele


The aim of this study is to examine how students perceive teacher trait emotional intelligence (TEI) and how those perceptions relate to students’ own self-reported attitudes and motivation. Adult students of ESL/EFL were given an online questionnaire consisting of two parts: one to provide observer-reported data on their teacher’s trait emotional intelligence and the second to measure students’ own attitudes and motivation. In total, 129 participants of 28 nationalities took part. The results showed that the perceived teacher TEI domains of teacher sociability and teacher self-control were significant predictors of student positive feelings and attitudes towards the teacher. With this paper, we make the case that observer reports of teacher TEI by students could be a valuable tool in L2 instruction by offering teachers unique insight into their own classroom behavior, thereby increasing teacher self-awareness which could lead to improved classroom practices.


Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

Author Biographies

Sharona Moskowitz, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Sharona Moskowitz is a PhD candidate in applied linguistics at Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. Her research focuses on the role of student perception of teacher emotion in the foreign language learning process. She is interested in various aspects of psycholinguistics related to foreign language acquisition, as well as the complex emotional dynamics of the student-teacher relationship in the language classroom.

Contact details: Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Birkbeck, University of London, 26 Russell Square, WC1B 5DT London, UK (

Jean-Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck, University of London, UK

Jean-Marc Dewaele is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism at Birkbeck, University of London. He has published widely on individual differences in psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic, pragmatic, psychological and emotional variables in second language acquisition and multilingualism. He is former president of the International Association of Multilingualism and the European Second Language Association. He is General Editor of the Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development. He won the Equality and Diversity Research Award from the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (2013) and the Robert Gardner Award for Excellence in Second Language and Bilingualism Research (2016) from the International Association of Language and Social Psychology.

Contact details: Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Birkbeck, University of London, 26 Russell Square, WC1B 5DT London, UK (


  1. Acheson, K., & Nelson, R. B. (2020). Utilizing the emotional labour scale to analyse the form and extent of emotional labour among foreign language teachers in the US public school system. In C. Gkonou, J.-M. Dewaele, & J. King (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 31-52). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  2. Barsade, S. G., & Gibson, D. E. (2007). Why does affect matter in organizations? Academy of Management Perspectives, 21(1), 36-59.
  3. Beadle, P. (2009). A good teacher is an entertainer as well as an educator. The Guardian from
  4. Benesch, S. (2012). Considering emotions in critical English language teaching: Theories and praxis. New York, NY: Routledge.
  5. Benesch, S. (2017). Emotions and English language teaching: Exploring teachers’ emotion labor. New York, NY: Routledge.
  6. Beyer, S. (1998). Gender differences in self-perception and negative recall bias. Sex Roles, 38, 103-133.
  7. Brackett, M. A., Reyes, M. R., Rivers, S. E., Elbertson, N. A., & Salovey, P. (2011). Classroom emotional climate, teacher affiliation, and student conduct. The Journal of Classroom Interaction, 46(1), 27-36.
  8. Chance, Z., Norton, M. I., Gino, F., & Ariely, D. (2011). Temporal view of the costs and benefits of self-deception. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108 (Suppl. 3), 15655-15659.
  9. Clark, C. M., Gage, N. L., Marx, R. W., Peterson, P. L., Stayrook, N. G., & Winne, P. H. (1979). A factorial experiment on teacher structuring, soliciting, and reacting. Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 534-552.
  10. Cooper, A., & Petrides, K. V. (2010). A psychometric analysis of the trait emotional intelligence questionnaire-short form (TEIQue-SF) using item response theory. Journal of Personality Assessment, 92, 449-457.
  11. Curci, A., Lanciano, T., & Soleti, E. (2014). Emotions in the classroom: The role of teachers’ emotional intelligence ability in predicting students’ achievement. The American Journal of Psychology, 127(4), 431-445.
  12. Dewaele, J.-M. (2020). What psychological, linguistic and sociobiographical variables power EFL/ESL teachers’ motivation? In C. Gkonou, C., J.-M. Dewaele, & J. King (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 269-287). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  13. Dewaele, J.-M., Chen, X., Padilla, A. M., & Lake, J. (2019). The flowering of positive psychology in foreign language teaching and acquisition research. Frontiers in Psychology, 10, 2128.
  14. Dewaele, J.-M., & Dewaele, L. (2017). The dynamic interactions in foreign language classroom anxiety and foreign language enjoyment of pupils aged 12 to 18: A pseudo-longitudinal investigation. Journal of the European Second Language Association, 1, 11-22.
  15. Dewaele, J.-M., Franco Magdalena, A., & Saito, K. (2019). The effect of perception of teacher characteristics on Spanish EFL learners’ anxiety and enjoyment. Modern Language Journal, 103, 412-427.
  16. Dewaele, J.-M., Gkonou, C., & Mercer, S. (2018). Do ESL/EFL teachers´ emotional intelligence, teaching experience, proficiency and gender, affect their classroom practice? In J. de Dios Martínez Agudo (Ed.), Emotions in second language teaching: Theory, research and teacher education (pp. 125-141). Berlin: Springer.
  17. Dewaele, J.-M., & Li, C. (2020). Emotions in second language acquisition: A critical review and research agenda. Foreign Language World [Chinese 外语界], 196(1), 34-49.
  18. Dewaele, J.-M., & MacIntyre P. D. (2014). The two faces of Janus? Anxiety and enjoyment in the foreign language classroom. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 4, 237-274.
  19. Dewaele, J.-M., MacIntyre, P. D., Boudreau, C., & Dewaele, L. (2016). Do girls have all the fun? Anxiety and enjoyment in the foreign language classroom. Theory and Practice of Second Language Acquisition, 2(1), 41-63.
  20. Dewaele, J.-M., & Mercer, S. (2018). Do ESL/EFL teachers´ emotional intelligence, teaching experience, proficiency and gender, affect their classroom practice? In S. Mercer & A. Kostoulas (Eds.), Language teacher psychology (pp. 178-195). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  21. Dimberg, U., Thunberg, M., & Elmehed, K. (2000). Unconscious facial reactions to emotional facial expressions. Psychological Science, 11, 86-89.
  22. Dörnyei, Z., & Ryan, S. (2015). The psychology of the language learner revisited. New York: Routledge.
  23. Elfenbein, H. A., Barsade, S. G., & Eisenkraft, N. (2015). The social perception of emotional abilities: Expanding what we know about observer ratings of emotional intelligence. Emotion, 15(1), 17-34.
  24. Falout, J., & Murphey, T. (2018). Teachers crafting job crafting. In S. Mercer & A. Kostoulas (Eds.), Language teacher psychology (pp. 211–230). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  25. Fischer, A. H., Kret, M. E., & Broekens, J. (2018). Gender differences in emotion perception and self-reported emotional intelligence: A test of the emotion sensitivity hypothesis. PloS one, 13(1), e0190712.
  26. Furnham, A. (2008). Personality and intelligence at work. London: Routledge
  27. Furnham, A., Race, M.-C., & Rosen, A. (2014). Emotional intelligence and the occupational personality questionnaire (OPQ). Frontiers in Psychology, 15, 1-8.
  28. Furnham, A., & Rawles, R. (1995). Sex differences in the estimation of intelligence. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 10, 741-745.
  29. Gardner, R. C. (1985). Social psychology and second language Learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London: Edward Arnold.
  30. Gkonou, C., Dewaele, J.-M., & King, J. (2020). Introduction to the emotional rollercoaster of language teaching. In C. Gkonou, J.-M. Dewaele, & J. King (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 1-12). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  31. Gkonou, C., & Mercer, S. (2017). Understanding emotional and social intelligence among English language teachers. London: British Council.
  32. Grant, A. (2018). People don’t actually know themselves very well. https://www. l-as-you-think-you-do/554612/
  33. Gregersen, T., MacIntyre, P. D., & MacMillan, N. (2020). Dealing with the emotions of teaching abroad: Searching for silver linings in a difficult context. In C. Gkonou, J.-M. Dewaele, & J. King (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 228-246). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  34. Hargreaves, A. (2000). Mixed emotions: Teachers’ perceptions of their interactions with students. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 811-826.
  35. Hochschild, A.R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  36. Humphries, S. (2020). “Please teach me how to teach”: The emotional impact of educational change. In C. Gkonou, J.-M. Dewaele, & J. King (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 150-172). Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
  37. Jennings, P., & Greenberg, M. (2009). The prosocial classroom: Teacher social and emotional competence in relation to student and classroom outcomes. Review of Educational Research, 79(1), 491-525.
  38. Kahneman, D. (2015). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
  39. King, J. (2016). “It’s time, put on the smile, it’s time!”: The emotional labor of second language teaching within a Japanese university. In C. Gkonou, D. Tatzl, & S. Mercer (Eds.), New directions in language learning psychology (pp. 97-112). New York: Springer.
  40. Lamb, M. (2017). The motivational dimension of language teaching. Language Teaching, 50(3), 301-346.
  41. Mercer, S., & Kostoulas, A. (Eds.). (2018). Language teacher psychology. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
  42. Mercer, S., Oberdorfer, P., & Saleem, M. (2016). Helping language teachers to thrive: Using positive psychology to promote teachers’ professional well-being. In D. Gabryś-Barker & D. Gałajda (Eds.), Positive psychology perspectives on foreign language learning and teaching (pp. 213-229). Cham: Springer.
  43. Moskowitz, S., & Dewaele, J.-M. (2019). Is teacher happiness contagious? A study of the link between perceptions of language teacher happiness and student self-reported attitudes and motivation. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching.
  44. Oh, I.-S., Wang, G., & Mount, M. K. (2011). Validity of observer ratings of the five-factor model of personality traits: A meta-analysis. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 762-773.
  45. Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2000). Gender differences in measured and self‐estimated trait emotional intelligence. Sex Roles, 42, 449-461.
  46. Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2006). The role of trait emotional intelligence in a gender-specific model of organizational variables. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 36, 552-569.
  47. Petrides, K. V., & Niven, L., & Mouskounti, T. (2006). The trait emotional intelligence of ballet dancers and musicians. Psicothema, 18, 101-107.
  48. Petrides, K. V., Pérez-Gonzalez, J. C., & Furnham, A. (2007). On the criterion and incremental validity of trait emotional intelligence. Cognition and Emotion, 21(1), 26-55.
  49. Plonsky, L., & Ghanbar, H. (2018). Multiple regression in L2 research: A methodological synthesis and guide to interpreting R2 values. Modern Language Journal, 102, 713-731.
  50. Schutte, N., Malouff, J., Hall, E., Haggerty, D., Cooper, J., Golden, D., & Dornheim, L. (1998). Development and validation of a measure of emotional intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 25, 167-177.
  51. Sime, D. (2006). What do learners make of teachers’ gestures in the language classroom? IRAL - International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, 44(2), 211-230.
  52. Spilt, J., Koomen, H., & Thijs, J. (2011). Teacher wellbeing: The importance of teacher-student relationships. Educational Psychology Review, 23(4), 457-477.
  53. Sutton, R. E. (2004). Emotion regulation goals and strategies of teachers. Social Psychology of Education, 7, 379-398.
  54. Sutton, R. E., Mudrey-Camino, R., & Knight, C. (2009). Teachers’ emotion regulation and classroom management. Theory Into Practice, 48(2), 130-137.
  55. Sutton, R. E., & Wheatley, K. F. (2003). Teachers’ emotions and teaching: A review of the literature and directions for future research. Educational Psychology Review, 15(4), 327-358.