View Content #25157

Content Type3
TitleLanguaging and Self-Care

By Christopher Daradics, CASLS Language Technician

Language Learning and the Self

The interplay between the Self and SLA is fascinating intellectual territory explored in detail in Mercer and Williams’ edited volume, Multiple Perspectives on the Self (2014). The collection of work places the Self at center stage in second language development. Mercer and Williams present topics associated with the Self that reveal it to be connected to extremely fundamental aspects of our human experience including: self-efficacy, self-esteem, self-concept, confidence, motivation, imagined possible Selves, and intersubjectivity.

As language educators, we can sometimes catch traces of these various facets of Self as they emerge and flourish in our students’ lives. In the flesh examples of this phenomenon abound in the lives of our students whose participation with their L2 becomes increasingly self-motivated, vivid, and consolidated into their personal identity. In our line of work, it is not uncommon for us to see students take root and nourish their sense of Self in the language contact areas our work together avails for them. This is to say, the process of learning a new language is fertile ground for the cultivation of Self. Teaching also affords the opportunity for meaningful cultivation of Self, if we choose to take time to do so. This month’s focus on Self is designed to do just that-- remind you to focus on you (i.e. your Self) in lots of comfortable and uncomfortable ways.

Language Teaching and the Self

As we know, the work of language teaching has its plusses and minuses. On the plus side, the work can be incredibly fun, interesting, and rewarding. As outlined above, language teaching afforded the cultivation of our own sense of Self and the blossoming sense of our own Self identity as we increasingly structured our own participation with what we once found to be a (more or less) foreign way of life and communication. Also on the plus side, by mastering the use of language (as language learners) as well as by being experts at teaching language (as language professionals) we have developed an uncommon awareness of how language works that can aid us in our communication with our Selves and with others. On the negative side, it can be very demanding, often occurring under difficult and exhausting conditions. Thus, Self-care becomes a fundamental priority for sustained work at our best. Fortunately, by blending and leaning in on our expertise as language learners and teachers, we can carry on with using language to curate and cultivate an ever more resilient, mature, and complex Self. This might be, for example, committing to a daily morning routine, or giving ourselves a break and not judging when we skip that routine to sleep in.

Languaging and Self-Care

The process of using and learning to use language (languaging) is not only a productive activity for the cultivation of Self, but it is also productive for the continued care of one’s Self. This is good news, because the Self constructing work we do with students can be exhausting and leave us feeling spent and depleted. Fortunately, we are languaging experts who have worked intentionally to develop a set of productive dispositions that we can use to tend to our emotional and intellectual resources when they become depleted. As expert communicators we have good reason to trust that our mature languaging skills will continue to orient us to and help us negotiate our way through whatever foreign, unfamiliar, and uncomfortable languaging environments we encounter.

As the Year Unfolds…

Taking proper care of one’s Self is not always celebrated by others, especially not in trying moments. However, over time, a self-conscious approach to one’s own communication and behavior yields a healthy and robust sense of Self and community. Reflection and rest are essential practices for bringing our best Selves to the table over the long haul. This week’s Activity of the Week is designed to unfold over the course of the next year and centers around three key languaging dispositions: suspending judgment, participating with intention, and elevating discourse. Consider nurturing your best languaging Self this upcoming year by scheduling some journaling time on your calendar at the beginning of each month. Timely journal prompts connected to these three dispositions are provided as opportunities to reflect and care for your Self each month of the school year.


Mercer, Sarah, and Marion Williams, Eds. (2014). Multiple perspectives on the self in SLA. Tonawanda, NY: Multilingual Matters.

SourceCASLS Topic of the Week
Inputdate2018-05-30 08:11:33
Lastmodifieddate2018-07-02 03:53:42
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Publishdate2018-07-02 02:15:03
Displaydate2018-07-02 00:00:00