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Book: Technology-mediated Crisis Response in Language Studies

Chapter: 12. Feeling Through Technology: Affect and Emotional Attachments During Remote Teaching

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.45108


This chapter investigates language teachers’ emotions about technology and their perceptions of their emotion labor through technology in remote language teaching. The sudden switch to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic has led to many publications about technology in language teaching. Their findings illuminate the importance of teachers’ affect (e.g., Li et al., 2021). The current chapter expands on these discussions by focusing on teachers’ emotion and emotion labor while teaching remotely. A concept originated in sociological inquiries, emotion labor refers to the work of regulating the feelings of both one’s own and others. It has been borrowed into applied linguistic research to capture the centrality of affect in language education (e.g., Miller & Gkonou, 2018). However, remote teaching brings pressing questions about emotion labor, as technology presents different modes and modalities for mitigating feelings. This study included 19 teachers of six languages from postsecondary institutions across the U.S. Each of them was interviewed twice. Using appraisal theory (Martin & White, 2005), our analysis focused on the affective attitudes construed in the teachers’ interview discourse. The findings are organized based on two types of technologies – 1) Zoom, and 2) social media platforms. The teachers described Zoom as a platform to connect to their students and conduct the work of care. However, the physical distance made it sometimes impossible to engage in embodied emotion labor, thus leading to feelings of disconnection simultaneously. Social media were used to encourage informal opportunities for target language use. Yet several teachers experienced the dilemma of not being able to be “off” work, while others reported that the students disengaged in these out-of-class use of social media because the platforms are emotionally not associated with learning. These findings highlight the need to incorporate affect in research and professional dialogues about technology in language education.

Chapter Contributors

  • Chantelle Warner ( - cwarner) 'University of Arizona'
  • Wenhao Diao ( - wdiao) 'University of Arizona'