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Introduction to Volume 1


Jo Mynard, Kanda University of International Studies, Chiba, Japan


Imelda K. Brady, University Centre for the Ministry of Defence, Murcia, Spain

Sarah Mercer, University of Graz, Austria



About the Journal for the Psychology of Language Learning (JPLL)


Welcome to the first volume of the Journal for the Psychology of Language Learning (JPLL), which is published by the International Association for the Psychology of Language Learning (IAPLL). IAPLL was formed after the second international conference on the Psychology of Language Learning (PLL2) in Jyväskylä, Finland in 2016, and launched at the third conference (PLL3) in Tokyo in 2018 ( The idea for this journal was discussed at one of the first board meetings, and a sub-committee (the three editors of this first volume) was founded in order to develop the details in collaboration with other members of the executive board. The journal is open to members and non-members and aims to publish high calibre work in the field of the psychology of language learning and teaching.

The journal was established in order to create a distinct discourse space to promote quality empirical work being done in the field, and to facilitate connections across areas of the psychology of language learning (PLL) but also within SLA more broadly and beyond into neighbouring disciplines such as psychology and education. It is hoped the journal can showcase excellent studies being done in this field and raise awareness of the kinds of topics and empirical innovations being addressed in the interdisciplinary work of PLL. The journal aims to further ‘stretch the boundaries’ of the field of PLL (Mercer & Ryan, 2016) and strengthen the identity of PLL as a recognisable community of scholars with a shared interest in the psychological aspects of language teaching and learning.

Each volume of the journal will include around five empirical/theoretical papers, a work-in-progress piece, and a book review. The journal will be published annually in June, and is an online, open access, double-blind peer reviewed, scholarly publication. Manuscripts for the next volume (June 2020) can be submitted via the website between November 10th 2019 and January 10th 2020. There will also be occasional special issues of the journal on a particular theme and scholars are encouraged to approach the editors if they have suggestions for special issues. For more information about the JPLL, please see the website


About the Papers in this Volume

There are six regular papers and a review in this first volume and we extend our sincere thanks to all of the contributors in playing a role in establishing this journal with a strong collection of papers. In the first paper, Phil Benson from Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia explores a largely neglected body of work relevant for an ecological perspective on foreign language education, namely, the pioneering work of the social psychologist George Herbert Mead (1863-1934). The aim of Benson’s paper is to draw upon some of the key ideas in Mead’s work to examine how it can add to our understanding of an ecological perspective on the psychology of language learning and use.


In the second paper, Zoltán Dörnyei from the University of Nottingham in the UK offers a personal account of the field of PLL from the perspective of someone who has been part of PLL’s journey for over three decades. Dörnyei reflects on the origins of SLA and its linguistic dominance and on the growing interest in psychology. Although psychology and SLA have taken different paths, the area of overlap is education where there is a shared interest in the personality and identity of the learner. The paper finishes with a look to the future, a focus on some challenges to overcome in the years ahead, and a proposed research agenda.

The next paper by Magdalena Kubanyiova from the University of Leeds in the UK and Zhen Yue from Xi’an Jiaotong University in China reports on a study into individuals’ willingness to communicate (WTC) in classroom settings. Taking a multidimensional view of an individual, and situating the study of WTC within students’ larger sociocultural settings, the authors use grounded theory to understand the WTC dynamics of one university student attending a general English course in mainland China. The findings suggest how WTC may shape learners’ investments in L2 learning through relationships with others.

In her paper, Diane Larsen-Freeman from the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania, USA speculates on why PLL is currently enjoying so much attention. Taking a complex dynamic systems theory (CDST) approach, she extends some new ways of thinking about PLL and offers advice for researchers and practitioners in the field for the coming years. She concludes by urging the PLL community to remain connected with other areas of applied linguistics in order to effectively continue to contribute to collaborative knowledge-building.


Masuko Miyahara from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan discusses some of the methodological issues surrounding researching emotions in applied linguistics. Revisiting a previous research study, Miyahara explores emotions and other interconnected factors such as identity, the L2 self, positionality, and learning experiences. The author uncovers a basic awareness of the challenges and issues involved in conducting such research and brings the notion of researcher’s reflexivity to the fore.

In the final regular paper, Kimberley A. Noels from the University of Alberta together with  Shelley Adrian-Taylor, University of Regina, Canada; Kristie Saumure, New Zealand Ministry of Health, Wellington, and Joshua W. Katz also from the University of Alberta present a study on the influence of significant others in the language learning process. From the perspective of  Self-Determination Theory (SDT), the authors explore the supportive framework provided by teachers, family, friends, and peers as well as members of the target language community in different learning contexts for learners of heritage (HL), modern languages (ML) and English as a second language (ESL).


Finally, Sonia Babic from the University of Graz in Austria reviews Positive Psychology Perspectives on Foreign Language Learning and Teaching. Edited Collection by Danuta Gabryś-Barker and Dagmara Galajda. Babic notes that the field of Positive Psychology (PP) has recently started gaining the attention of researchers in language learning and teaching but is still in its infancy in the field of SLA, so she concludes that this is a much-needed edited volume offering theoretical, practical and empirical studies through the lens of PP.




Mercer, S., & Ryan, S. (2016). Stretching the boundaries: Language learning psychology. Palgrave Communication, 2, 1–5. doi:10.1057/palcomms.2016.31


About the Editors


Jo Mynard is a Professor, Director of the Self-Access Learning Center (SALC), and Director of the Research Institute for Learner Autonomy Education (RILAE) at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan. She advises language learners, oversees research and the general direction of the SALC, and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses. She is particularly interested in research related to advising, learner autonomy, self-directed language learning, language learning beyond the classroom / self-access language learning, and the social and affective dimensions of language learning. She is currently the publications officer of IAPLL.


Imelda K. Brady is an Associate Lecturer at the University Centre for the Ministry of Defence (Spanish Air Force) in Murcia, Spain. She has been teaching EFL and ESP at third level for over 20 years now across a wide range of university degrees and has also taught modules on psycholinguistics and language teaching methodologies for primary and secondary teachers. Her research interests lie in L2 learning motivation and individual differences in language learning. She has co-authored articles on autonomy of language learning and edited several books on language learning and teaching. She is the current secretary of IAPLL.

Sarah Mercer is the Head of the ELT Research and Methodology unit at the University of Graz. She is interested in all aspects of language learning psychology. In her research, she prefers to employ qualitatively-oriented approaches. Currently, she is engaged in considering aspects of language learner psychology through a complexity lens and exploring a diverse range of methodological approaches for this purpose. Her current projects cover the areas of language teacher psychology, socio-emotional intelligences, positive language education, and wellbeing. She is currently vice-president of IAPLL. 

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Journal for the Psychology of Language Learning


Issue 1, June 2019, pp. 1-5

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