Emotions that Experienced English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Teachers Feel about their Students, their Colleagues and their Work

Jan. 15, 2011

Source: Teaching and Teacher Education, Volume 27, Issue 1, January 2011, Pages 235-242.
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

The current article describes a study that examined what emotions the experienced EFL teachers perceive in their work and the implications this has for their development.

Two research questions guided this study:
(1) What emotions do experienced EFL teachers perceive in their interactions with students, colleagues, and others involved in education?
(2) What implications does the study of emotions have for the development of EFL teachers?

Nine university EFL teachers in Tokyo participated in the study.
The participants were four female and five male teachers from four countries: Britain, China, Japan and the US.
Six were full-time teachers at one institution whilst three were working part-time at several institutions. Six worked at private colleges and three were at state ones.
Their teaching experience ranged from five to 25 years with an average of 12 years experience.

The teachers were interviewed about emotions in teaching.


It was found that amongst these experienced teachers the two ‘positive’ emotions of liking and caring for students were especially common. In addition, teachers act as moral guides for their students in going beyond language teaching.
However, the teachers expressed negative emotions towards students, especially anger concerning predictable student behaviours such as lateness, absence, and classroom disruption.
Furthermore, the teachers expressed negative emotions regarding their colleagues and institutions. The perceived lack of trust of teachers by their administration and systems of divisive rank and hierarchy were some of the factors that contributed to the negative emotions expressed about institutions.


The article suggests two main implications for teacher development.
Firstly, teachers need to be able to talk to others about the emotional impact of teaching.
Secondly, it is important that there should be some acknowledgement that emotions are a significant element of EFL teaching, and that time and space needs to be allocated to discuss them.

Updated: Nov. 29, 2011