Dissertation Defense: Yasser Teimouri

Candidate Name: Yasser Teimouri

Major: Linguistics

Advisor: Alison Mackey, Ph.D.

Title: Exploring the Emotional Journeys of Language Learners Through the Eyes of Their L2 Selves

Emotion research in second language acquisition (SLA) research is currently undergoing rapid changes with an increasing number of studies exploring its role in second language (L2) learning (Dewaele, 2019; Dewaele & MacIntyre, 2014; Prior, 2019). In line with this rising wave of studies, my research aims (1) to introduce the constructs of shame-proneness and guilt-proneness from social psychology research into SLA studies, (2) to validate the psychometric measurement of these two constructs within SLA, (3) to examine the influence of shame-proneness and guilt-proneness on L2 learners’ motivational behaviors and language achievements, and (4) to investigate whether shame-proneness and guilt-proneness of L2 learners can be related to their L2 selves (Dörnyei, 2009, Teimouri, 2017).

These research objectives were explored as follows: First, the prevalence of shame and guilt reactions in L2 settings was explored. Next, Second Language Test of Shame and Guilt Affect (L2-TOSGA) was developed to measure L2 learners’ individual differences in terms of their proneness to shame and proneness to guilt during L2 learning. Then, various psychometric properties of the L2-TOSGA were examined. Finally, the links between L2 learners’ shame-proneness and guilt-proneness, and their motivational behaviors, language achievements, and L2 selves were probed. A total of 866 English learners, across five studies, from five private language institutes and two private universities in Iran participated in this research.

The results of both qualitative and quantitative analyses evidenced the pervasiveness of shame and guilt in an L2 context and attested to the reliability, stability, and validity of the newly developed L2-TOSGA. The findings also revealed that not all the negative emotions of L2 learners have detrimental effects on students’ learning of a second language. More specifically, while shame-proneness can hamper L2 learners’ motivation by impairing their sense of global self, guilt-proneness can increase L2 learners’ motivation levels, by encouraging corrective actions to undo their misbehaviors. Moreover, learners with stronger social obligations for learning English (i.e., ought-to L2 selves, Dörnyei, 2009) were found to be more vulnerable to feelings of shame, whereas learners with stronger personal ideals and wishes for learning English (i.e., ideal L2 selves, Dörnyei, 2009) were identified as more guilt-prone. In short, this research sheds light on the multi-faceted nature of social emotions and highlighted their subtle influence on L2 learners during language learning.

Wednesday, July 3 at 11:00am to 1:00pm

Poulton Hall, 255
1421 37th St., N.W., Washington

Event Type

Academic Events, Dissertation Defense


Georgetown College, Linguistics, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences



Open to the public and the press?


Event Contact Name

Erin Esch Pereira

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