PCE 2022

16 May 2022 10:00-16:30 in Belfast, Northern Ireland and hybrid on Zoom

Our 2022 Pre-Conference Event focus is:
Affect, well-being, and autonomy in language learning and teaching

Follow this link to register for this event.


Positive emotions are powerful. They facilitate language learning as they have a considerable effect not only on our body but also our brain. In this PCE, we seek to bring together policy makers, educators, practitioners, and researchers to exchange ideas and experience related to affective and social aspects of learner autonomy.

The talks and workshops will explore different aspects of the relationship between positive psychology and foreign language learner autonomy as autonomy is about building social relationships and communities and making meaningful social connections; these are some of the main pillars of positive psychology and wellbeing.

The day will start off with a plenary talk by Sarah Mercer (University of Graz, Austria), leading us into the topic by addressing some of the key questions about affect, well-being, and foreign language learner autonomy. The rest of the day will put theory into practice when participants will have the opportunity to engage in interactive input talks, workshops, and group discussions, paying particular attention to the question of how students’ autonomy and the consideration of psychological dimensions of learning can go hand in hand.

Sarah Mercer’s plenary title: A compassion-based pedagogy for wellbeing in ELT

Abstract: Wellbeing is finally receiving the recognition it deserves as a core ingredient of good professional practice – both for teachers and learners. High levels of wellbeing have been shown to enhance creativity in teaching and boost learner achievement. In this talk, we consider the role of compassion as one pathway to enhancing wellbeing. We begin by critically examining the notions of wellbeing and compassion. Then we explore three pathways to wellbeing in depth: (1) self-compassion for teachers and learners; (2) teaching with compassion for classroom relationships; and (3) teaching to develop compassion as a global life skill. We reflect on the practical actions we can take as educators to infuse our practice with the ethos of compassion and seek to enhance the wellbeing of ourselves and our learners. It is when teachers and learners flourish in their classrooms that we create the best conditions for effective and powerful learning to take place.

Sarah MercerAbout Sarah: 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 and teaching 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), ‘Engaging language learners in contemporary classrooms’ (ELTon Finalist 2021), and ‘Teacher Wellbeing’ (ELTon Finalist 2021). She is currently vice-president of the International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning (IAPLL), and co-editor of Multilingual Matters’ Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching book series.