Krastanka Bozhinova

American University of Bulgaria, Bulgaria;


Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal.  Volume 2023-2(10).  THE EMOTIONAL DIMENSION OF LANGUAGE AND OF LINGUISTIC EDUCATION, pp. 7-20.



This study focuses on the role of affects in additional language learning in the context of mobility. The starting point is the discovery of Francophone migrant literature by intermediate-level learners of French at an international university in Bulgaria. It concerns in particular the encounter with the Hungarian-Swiss writer Agota Kristof and her autobiographical text “L’Analphabète” [The Illiterate], which reveals a polarized attitude towards languages that have marked her life and career. Brought to reflect on the tension behind the way the author qualifies languages as “enemies” or “friends”, the learners share their own attitudes towards the languages of their repertoires through reflective drawings (language portraits), autobiographical narratives, and semi-structured interviews. Qualitative analysis of the collected data was conducted to examine in what ways students express their affects relating to languages with different status and how their attitudes are connected to the mobilities and other significant changes they have experienced. The results indicate that the participants express predominantly positive affects. All are attached to their initial languages, although this strong identification may be destabilizing in critical situations like mobilities abroad and significant life changes. English has an important place in the learners’ identity and is related to fluency, comfort, desire, and various opportunities. French is cherished mostly for its aesthetic values, although pleasure is often mixed with anxiety due to the lower levels of proficiency. Students feel attracted to additional languages, which they connect to cultural and leisure activities but have omitted other languages from their repertoires since they do not feel strongly attached to them. It appears that both teachers and learners can benefit from the multimodal autobiographical approach as it allows to explore the complexity of the learners’ plurilingual repertoires, the stories behind their construction, and the affects related to this process.

Keywords: additional language, affects, language portrait, migrant literature, mobility, multimodality, plurilingualism

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