Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

EFL Learners' Perspective on the Teacher Role During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Andreja Kovačić, University of Zagreb (Croatia)

Goran Bubaš, University of Zagreb (Croatia)


Learner beliefs are usually denoted as one of the key learner variables in foreign language learning [1]. They are often interpreted as an underlying psychological component of learner behaviour at both the cognitive and affective level [2]. Learner beliefs about the learning environment and its participants can determine learner effort and motivation [3], and affect their perception of learning. One of the constructs within the complex learner belief system are learner beliefs concerning the role of the teacher as an element of the instructional dimension of the learning environment [4]. The abrupt transition to fully online instruction during the COVID-19 pandemic presented language teachers with novel pedagogical and technological challenges [5], [3]. This paper aims to shed light on the learners' perspective on language teachers' roles in the delivery of online ESP (English for Specific Purposes) instruction during the pandemic and lockdown. It focuses on students’ beliefs regarding the teacher role in an ESP course at a Croatian university in the spring semester of the 2019/2020 academic year. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak the delivery of this course was shifted from a hybrid to a fully online format. Two research questions are addressed in this small-scale empirical study: (1) How do learners assess their own beliefs regarding the role of the teacher in an online language course? and (2) How important, in students' opinion, are different aspects of the teacher’s engagement in the online ESP course for their learning achievement? The survey data indicate that students moderately favourably evaluated their beliefs regarding the online language teacher role. In terms of the second research question the results point to a trend towards accentuating the role of the EFL teacher as a course facilitator and material designer and mediator when a fully online course format is concerned.

Keywords: learner beliefs, teacher role, CALL, online instruction.


  1. Kalaja, P., Barcelos, A. M. F., & Aro, M. (2018). Revisiting Research on L2 Learner Beliefs: Looking Back and Looking Forward. In P. Garrett, & J. M. Cots (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Language Awareness (pp. 222-237). New York: Routledge.
  2. Dornyei, Z., & Ryan, S. (2015). The psychology of the language learner revisited. New York: Routledge.
  3. Smith Fuentes Hernández, S., & Silva Flórez, A. N. (2020). Online Teaching During Covid-19: How to Maintain Students Motivated in an EFL Class. Linguistics and Literature Review 6 (2): 157- 171.
  4. Cotterall, S. (1999). Key variables in language learning: what do learners believe about them? System 27, 493-513.
  5. Khatoony, S., & Nezhadmehr, M. (2020). EFL teachers’ challenges in integration of technology for online classrooms during Coronavirus (COVID -19) pandemic  in Iran. AJELP: Asian Journal of English Language and Pedagogy, 8(2), 89-104.

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