The interface of emotion and cognition in language learning and use (L1, L2, Lx)

The Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi) presents an international workshop in June 2021, hosted at the University of Essex.

  • Thu 24 Jun 21

    09:00 - 17:30

  • Colchester Campus

    University of Essex

  • Event speaker

    Jean-Marc Dewaele (Birkbeck, University of London), Robert McKenzie (Northumbria University), Silke Paulmann (University of Essex)

  • Event type


  • Event organiser

    Language and Linguistics, Department of

  • Contact details

LaDeLi workshop

Please check the LaDeLi website to find out about our future events. 

The learning, use and processing of language are influenced by a multitude of factors which interact constantly and dynamically. In bi- and multilingual speakers, this interaction can be expected to be even more complex than in monolingual speakers. 

Traditional approaches to understanding the role of individual differences in language learning and use have often focused on either the affective or the cognitive dimension, but rarely on both in conjunction. This workshop will aim to explore the interface of these two dimensions and seek to address questions such as how emotion and cognition interact, and what this means for the learner’s/speaker’s processing, development and usage of language, especially in bi- and multilingual contexts.

In addition, the workshop will bring in social psychological perspectives of language learning and use. This strand will address the development of social attitudes and evaluations towards particular language varieties, and the processes of social cognition through which these attitudes manifest themselves.

Register here

For further information or questions, please contact ladeli@essex.ac.uk

The interface of emotion and cognition in language learning and use (L1, L2, Lx)

Plenary speakers and talks:

Professor Silke Paulmann, University of Essex: Hearing Emotions

A Chinese proverb states that "The tongue can paint what the eyes can't see". Indeed,  the power of our voice should not be underestimated. The way we speak signals to others how we feel or how we think about something: a confident "yes" in response to a marriage proposal conveys assurance that the person will want to spend the rest of their life with the proposer. A weakly expressed "I'm fine" when being asked how you are, leaves a degree of uncertainty to whether you really speak the truth. In this talk, I will present data on how our voice leaks emotional, motivational, and attitudinal information (or "social prosody"). I will refer to work looking at acoustic correlates of social prosody, how easy or difficult it is to recognise emotions, attitudes and motivation from speech, how emotional voices impact behaviour and well-being, and what factors (incl. culture) can influence these processes. I will also show some electro-physiological data from listeners in response to emotional and motivational speech to shed light on the question of how the brain manages to successfully detect how others feel or try to energise you to action.

Dr Robert McKenzie, Northumbria University: Investigating Linguistic Prejudice, and Language Attitude Change, Through Implicit and Explicit Attitude Measures

This talk details the findings of a recent study (McKenzie & Carrie, 2018; McKenzie & McNeil, under contract) employing instruments adapted from Social Psychology - an Implicit Association Test (IAT) and self-report attitude scale - to measure the relationship between 90 Newcastle-based English nationals' implicit and explicit ratings of Northern English and Southern English speech. Multivariate analysis demonstrated a significant implicit-explicit attitude discrepancy (IED), providing evidence of language attitude change in progress (Charlesworth & Banaji, 2019), led by younger females, with explicit attitudes changing more rapidly towards a greater tolerance, if not unreserved approval, of forms of English spoken in the north of England. The study findings are discussed in relation to the potential changing status of Northern and Southern English speech in the north of England. Further discussion is offered with regard to the potential benefits of employing implicit and explicit attitude measures to investigate more deeply embedded linguistic prejudice and, relatedly, to help determine any language attitude change and micro-level language change underway within specific communities.


Charlesworth, T.E.S. and M.R. Banaji (2019) Patterns of implicit and explicit attitudes: 1. Long-termchange and stability from 2007 to 2016. Psychological Science 30(2): 830-844.

McKenzie, R.M. and E. Carrie (2018) Implicit-explicit attitudinal discrepancy and the investigation of language attitude change in progress. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development 39(9): 174-192.

McKenzie, R.M., & McNeil, A. (under contract). Implicit and explicit language attitudes: Mapping accent discrimination and attitude change in England. London: Routledge.
* The financial support provided by a 12-month British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship awarded to Robert McKenzie (Reference: MD20\200009) to fund this study is gratefully acknowledged.

Professor Jean-Marc Dewaele, Birkbeck, University of London: The Brain Needs the Heart: Emotion and Cognition in SLA Research

Foreign and Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research has long been dominated by a cognitive perspective that views language learning and teaching as resulting from an interaction of learner-internal variables such as aptitude, working memory, musical ability, and teaching strategies (focus on form, recasts, communicative approach). The cognitive approach assumes that physiology plays a central role in SLA (Sharwood Smith, 2017) and it leaves little place to the role of emotions, and their unpredictable effects. The situation started changing around 2010 when SLA researchers became increasingly interested in the role of various emotions in SLA  (Dewaele et al., 2019) and how they fuelled learners’ progress and performance in the L2. As a result, a more nuanced understanding is emerging of the highly dynamic interactions between learner cognition and emotions in the classroom, interacting with a wide range of learner-internal and learner-external variables.


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. Language Sciences 10, 2128. Doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02128

Sharwood Smith, M. (2017). Introducing Language and Cognition. A Map of the Mind. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Contact us
Contact us
Centre for Research in Language Development throughout the Lifespan (LaDeLi) University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ
Department of Language and Linguistics University of Essex
Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex, CO4 3SQ
Telephone: 01206 872083