Language Learning in the Time of COVID-19: ELT Students’ Narrated Experiences in Guided Reflective Journals

Keywords: COVID-19, ELT, emotions, guided journals, narrative inquiry, reflective journals, teacher education


This article presents the results of a qualitative study of the lived experiences and emotional responses regarding language learning of 29 students in a bachelor's degree in English language teaching (elt) offered at a public university in central Mexico. The study was grounded in sociocultural theory and was carried out at a time when the students' classes changed overnight to online learning due to the worldwide covid-19 pandemic. In this program, students learn a foreign language within a theoretical framework of second language acquisition (sla) and document their language learning experience (lle) through reflective journals. One month into the new online modality, they were asked to write in their journals about a historical artifact that would represent their experience dur­ing the pandemic for a historian 100 years in the future. A constant comparative method of analysis of their narrated stories reveals the challenges faced and ensu­ing emotions: from overwhelming anxiety to youthful optimism. These results provide an appreciation of students’ complex emotions regarding their language learning process while in the midst of a worldwide pandemic and highlight the importance of creating activities that promote reflection.

= 58 veces | PDF
= 45 veces|


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Amanda Wilson, Universidad de Guanajuato

Professor, Departmento de Lenguas, Universidad de Guanajuato, Guanajuato, México.

M. Martha Lengeling, Universidad de Guanajuato

Full Professor, Departmento de Lenguas, Universidad de Guanajuato, Guanajuato, México.


Aristovnik, A., Keržicˇ, D., Ravšelj, D., Tomaževicˇ, N., & Umek, L. (2020). Impacts of the covid-19 pandemic on life of higher education students: A global perspective. Sustainability 2020, 12(8438), 1–34.

Arnold, J. (2009). Affect in L2 learning and teaching. Estudios de Lingüística Inglesa Aplicada, 9, 145–151.

Arnold, J. (2011). Attention to affect in language learning. Anglistik. International Journal of English Studies, 22(1),11–22.

Barkhuizen, G. (2019). Narrative knowledging in second language teaching and learning contexts. In A. De Fina & A. Georgakopoulou (Eds.), The handbook of narrative analysis (pp. 97–116). Wiley Blackwell.

Barkhuizen, G., & Wette, R. (2008). Narrative frames for investigating the experiences of language teachers. System, 36(3), 372–387.

Brown, H. D. (2014). Principles of language learning and teaching (6th ed.). Pearson Education.

Burns, A. (2009). Action research in second language teacher education. In A. Burns & J. C. Richards (Eds.), The Cambridge guide to second language teacher education (pp. 289–297). Cambridge University Press.

Carlyle, D., & Woods, P. (2002). Emotions of teacher stress. Trentham.

Chakma, U., Li, B., & Kabuhung, G. (2021). Creating online metacognitive spaces: Graduate research writing during the covid-19 pandemic. Issues in Educational Research, 31(1), 37–55.

Clandinin, D. J., Steeves, P., & Caine, V. (2013). Composing lives in transition: Early school leavers. Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Coffey, A., & Atkinson, P. (1996). Making sense of qualitative data: Complementary research strategies. Sage.

Denzin, N. K., & Lincoln, Y. S. (2005). Introduction: The discipline and practice of qualitative research. In N. K.

Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.), The Sage handbook of qualitative research (3rd ed., pp. 1–44). Sage.

Dörnyei, Z. & Chen, L. (2013). Motivation and vision: An analysis of future L2 self images, sensory styles, and imagery capacity across two target languages. Language Learning, 63(3), 437–462.

Dörnyei, Z., & Ushioda, E. (2011). Teaching and researching motivation. Pearson Education Limited.

Ellis, E. M. (2004). The invisible multilingual teacher: The contribution of language background to Australian esl teachers’ professional knowledge and beliefs. The International Journal of Multilingualism, 1(2), 90–108.

Ellis, E. M. (2012). Language awareness and its relevance to tesol. University of Sydney Papers in tesol, 7, 1–23.

Farrell, T. S. C. (2013). Reflective practice in esl teacher development groups: From practices to principles. Palgrave Macmillan.

Flowerdew, J. (1998). Language learning experience in L2 teacher education. tesol Quarterly, 32(3), 529–535.

Forman, R. (2015). Becoming an L” learner (again): How a brief language learning experience sparked connections with sla theory. Language Teaching Research, 19(1), 108–122.

Golombek, P., & Doran, M. (2014). Unifying cognition, emotion, and activity in language teacher professional development. Teaching and Teacher Education, 39(2014), 102–111.

Golombek, P., & Klager, P. (2019). Tracing teacher emerging conceptions in the moment through “tiny self talks”. The European Journal of Applied Linguistics and tefl, 8(2), 39–60.

Hargreaves, A. (1998). The emotional practice of teaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 14(8), 835–854.

Holliday, A. (2007). Doing and writing qualitative research (2nd ed.). Sage Publications.

Horwitz, E. K. (2016). Reflections on Horwitz (1986), Preliminary Evidence for the Validity and Reliability of a Foreign Language Anxiety Scale. tesol Quarterly, 50(4), 932–935.

Karalis, T., & Raikou, N. (2020). Teaching at the times of covid-19: Inferences and implications for higher education pedagogy. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences, 10(5), 479–493.

Lengeling, M. M. (2010). Becoming an English teacher. Participants’ voices and identities in an in/service teacher training course in central Mexico. [libro electrónico en repositorio]. Universidad de Guanajuato, México.

Lortie, D. C. (2002). Schoolteacher: A sociological study (2nd ed.). Chicago University Press.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1994). The subtle effects of language anxiety on cognitive processing in the second language. Language Learning, 44, 283–305.

Masgoret, A. M., Gardner, R. C. (2003). Attitudes, motivation, and second language learning: A meta-analysis of studies conducted by Gardner and associates. Language Learning, 53(1), 167–210.

Mendez Lopez, M. G. (2020). Emotions attributions of elt pre-service teachers and their effects on teaching experience. Profile, 22(1), 1–13.

McNiff, J. & Whitehead, J. (2002). Action research: Principles and practice (2nd ed.). RoutledgeFalmer.

Moon, J. A. (2006). Learning journals: A handbook for reflective practice and professional development (2nd ed.). Routledge.

Noels, K. A. (2001). New orientations in language learning motivation: Towards a model of intrinsic, extrinsic, and integrative orientations and motivation. In Z. Dörnyei & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Motivation and second language learning (pp. 43–68). University of Hawai‘i Press.

Pasaribu, T. A., & Dewi, N. (2021). Indonesian efl students’ voices on online learning during covid-19 through appraisal analysis. LEARN Journal, 14(1), 399–426.

Prior, M. T. (2016). Emotion and discourse in L2 narrative research. Multilingual Matters.

Richards, J. C. (2015). Key issues in language teaching. Cambridge University Press.

Richards, K. A. R., & Hemphill, M. A. (2018). A practical guide to collaborative qualitative data analysis. Journal of Teaching in Physical Education, 37(2), 225–231.

Song, J. (2016). Emotions and language teacher identity: Conflicts, vulnerability, and transformation. TESOL Quarterly, 50(3), 631-654.

Scovel, T. (2001). Learning new languages: A guide to second language acquisition. Heinle.

Squire, C., Andrews, M., & Tamboukou, M. (2013). Introduction: What is narrative research? In M. Andrews, C.

Squire, & M. Tamboukou (Eds.), Doing narrative research (2nd ed., pp. 1–26). Sage Publications Ltd.

Squire, C., Davis, M., Esin, C., Andrews, M., Harrison, B., Hydén, L-C, & Hydén, M. (2014). What is narrative

research? Bloomsbury.

Strauss, V. (2020, April 17). A history professor gave students an unusual assignment. Here are the results. Washington Post.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1981). The genesis of higher mental functions. In J. V. Wertsch (Ed.), The concept of activity in Soviet psychology (pp. 144–188). Sharpe.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1994). The problem of the environment. In R. van der Veer & J. Valsiner (Eds.), The Vygotsky reader (pp. 338–354). Blackwell Publishers.

Wilson, A. K. (2017). A narrator of stories shares his own: An interview with Gary Barkhuizen. mextesol Journal, 41(1), 1–7.

Zembylas, M. (2003). Emotions and teacher identity: A poststructural perspective. Teachers and Teaching, 9(3), 213–238.

How to Cite
Wilson A., & Lengeling M. M. (2021). Language Learning in the Time of COVID-19: ELT Students’ Narrated Experiences in Guided Reflective Journals. Íkala, 26(3), 571-585.