Dr Jim King

Associate Professor of Education (Applied Linguistics), Director of Research & Enterprise (joint)

School/Department: Education, School of



I am an applied linguist who specialises in psychological aspects of foreign language education. I receive regular invitations to talk about my research at both national and international events, presenting on topics such as foreign language anxiety, language teacher psychology and classroom silence. My most recent books on these topics are The Emotional Rollercoaster of Language Teaching and East Asian Perspectives on Silence in English Language Education (both published by Multilingual Matters as part of their Psychology of Language Learning and Teaching series).

I joined the University of Leicester’s School of Education in 2013 after having previously held positions at a number of different universities both in the UK and abroad. My PhD in Applied Linguistics is from the University of Nottingham, where I studied under the supervision of the late Professor Zoltán Dörnyei. Prior to my doctoral studies, I worked for a number of years in Japan as a lecturer and teacher trainer at Kansai University of Foreign Languages (Kansai Gaidai) and Ehime University. In all, I have over 20 years of experience teaching and teacher training within university settings. Even though I am now based in the UK, my professional links with Japan continue, particularly in the research I do. I am an International Fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and a past recipient of the Visiting Research Scholar Award from Kansai University's Faculty of Foreign Language Studies.


I am particularly interested in situated psychological aspects of foreign language teaching and second language acquisition. My most recent and current research projects have focused primarily on the phenomenon of silence and nonverbal communication in language learning, looking at these issues from an affective (emotions) perspective. I am intrigued by the differing forms and functions of silence within educational contexts, how silence impacts upon learning and also the roles that social interaction and affect play in the production of silent episodes. A developing area of interest for me is the role of engagement in classroom language learning.

I take a keen interest in the psychology of language teachers themselves and have conducted research which seeks to better understand teachers' in-class emotional displays and the emotion regulation strategies that they employ when teaching. I was recently an international partner on the three-year, FWF-funded (€395,698) research project 'The Psychological Capital of Foreign Language Teachers' (Principal Investigator - Professor Sarah Mercer) which sought to better understand the psychological well-being of foreign language teachers working in secondary schools in Austria and the UK.



A full list of my publications can be found on my Google Scholar profile.

Books and edited collections

Gkonou, C., Dewaele, J-M. & King, J. (Eds.) (2020). The Emotional Rollercoaster of Language Teaching. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

King, J. & Harumi, S. (Eds.) (2020). East Asian perspectives on silence in English language education. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.

King, J. (Ed.) (2015). The dynamic interplay between context and the language learner. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

King, J. (2013). Silence in the second language classroom. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Recent selected journal articles and book chapters 

Humphries, S., Aubrey, S. & King, J. (2023). Fluctuations in capacity to speak: Influencing willingness to communicate before, during and after studying abroad. System, 113, 1-13.

Maher, K. & King, J. (2022). ‘The silence kills me’: Silence as a trigger of speaking-related anxiety in the English-medium classroom. English Teaching & Learning, 46, 213–234.

Al-Ahmadi, S. & King, J. (2022). Silence behind the veil: An exploratory investigation into the reticence of female Saudi Arabian learners of English. TESOL Quarterly (Early View version), 1-24.

Sulis, G., Babic, S., Mairitsch, A., Mercer, S., Jin, J. & King, J. (2022) Retention and attrition in early-career foreign language teachers in Austria and the United Kingdom. The Modern Language Journal (Early View Open Access version), 1-17.

King, J. & Morris, S. (2022). Social interaction. In T. Gregersen & S. Mercer (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of the Psychology of Language Learning (pp. 311-322). Routledge.

Babic, S., Mercer, S., Mairitsch, A., Sulis, G., Jin, J., King, J., Lanvers, U. & Shin, S. (2022). Late-career language teachers in Austria and the UK: Pathways to retirement. Teaching and Teacher Education,113, 1-10.

Maher, K. & King, J. (2022). Enhancing emotional engagement in speaking tasks: A cognitive-behavioural theory approach. In A. H. Al-Hoorie & F. Szabó (Eds.), Researching language learning motivation: A concise guide (pp. 135-152). Bloomsbury.

Shin, S., Mercer, S., Babic, S., Sulis, G., Mairitsch, A., King, J. & Jin, J. (2021). Riding the happiness curve: The wellbeing of mid-career phase language teachers. The Language Learning Journal (Open Access online version), 1-13.

Mairitsch, A., Babic, S., Mercer, S. Jin, J. Sulis, G. & King, J. (2021). Being a student, becoming a teacher: The wellbeing of pre-service language teachers in Austria and the UK. Teaching and Teacher Education, 106, 1-11.

Aubrey, S., King, J. & Alahmadi, H. (2020). Language learner engagement during speaking tasks: A longitudinal study. RELC Journal (OnlineFirst version), 1-15.

Smith, L. & King, J. (2020). Researching the complexity of silence in second-language classrooms. In R. J. Sampson & R. S. Pinner (Eds.), Complexity perspectives on researching language learner and teacher psychology (pp. 86-102). Multilingual Matters.

Maher, K. & King, J. (2020). Observing anxiety in the foreign language classroom: Student silence and nonverbal cues. Journal for the Psychology of Language Learning, 2, 116-142. 

King, J., Yashima, T., Humphries, S., Aubrey, S. & Ikeda, M. (2020). Silence and anxiety in the English-medium classroom of Japanese universities: A longitudinal intervention study. In J. King & S. Harumi (Eds.), East Asian perspectives on silence in English language education (pp. 60-79). Multilingual Matters. 

Morris, S. & King, J. (2020). Emotion regulation amongst university EFL teachers in Japan: The dynamic interplay between context and emotional behaviour. In C. Gkonou, J-M. Dewaele & J. King (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 193-210). Multilingual Matters.

King, J., Gkonou, C., & Dewaele, J-M. (2020). Concluding thoughts on the emotional rollercoaster of language teaching. In C. Gkonou, J-M. Dewaele & J. King, (Eds.), The emotional rollercoaster of language teaching (pp. 288-295). Multilingual Matters.




Potential areas for PhD research relate to situated psychological aspects of instructed language learning, including the following sub-topics:

    Silence in second language (L2) or general education contexts
    Language anxiety in L2 and higher education
    Language learner engagement
    Teacher emotions and well-being
    Emotional labour in language teaching
    Language teacher emotion regulation
    Group dynamics in language classrooms

I'm currently first supervisor to the following doctoral students:

    Rob Werner (silence in Japanese tertiary EFL)
    Nick Marx (affect and engagement in SLA)
    Heilah A M Almohaser (positive emotions in classroom language learning)
    Alaa Ahmed Aladnani (L2 teacher emotions and cognitive coaching)
    Sarah Kwan-Yee Ng (emotion regulation strategies of language learners)
    Kate Maher (silence and anxiety in foreign language learning)
    Diana Margarita DiĀ­az Mejia (emotional labour of language teachers)
    Haydab Almkiled (foreign language anxiety)
    Rania Elmajdoubi (psychology of language education)
    Yifan Wang (entrance exam washback - supervision passed on from Prof Glenn fulcher)

Recent doctoral student completions include:
    Dr Jeremy Boston (Thesis - Engagement with Language during Transcript Revision: Japanese University English Learners' Processes, Products and Perspectives).
    Dr Sam Morris (Thesis - The Emotion Regulation of Non-Japanese EFL Teachers at a Japanese University).
    Dr Shatha Talib Al-Ahmadi (Thesis - Behind The Veil of Silence: A Exploratory Investigation Into The Silence of Saudi Female Learners of English).
    Dr Paul Kavanagh (Thesis - Educator Attitudes to English as a Lingua Franca in the International University: A Q-sort Intervention Study


My classroom-based research informs not only the content of my teaching, but also the pedagogy I employ. I draw on concepts from psychology, education and linguistics to explain what goes on in the complex setting of the language classroom. I convene the following modules on the university's MA courses focusing on Applied Linguistics and English/second language teaching:

    Psychological Issues in Language Learning (PILL): EN7316 (Campus)
    Intercultural Communication: EN7520 (Distance)
    Dissertation: EN7300 (Campus) and EN7501 (Distance)
    Research Methods for the Dissertation and Professional Enquiry Dissertation

I also teach on:

    Second Language Teaching: EN7310 (Campus)
    Second Language Learning: EN7311 (Campus)
    University of Leicester FutureLearn MOOC: An Introduction to Applied Linguistics & TESOL

Press and media

I was interviewed for the Lost in Citations podcast about my Applied Linguistics paper 'Silence in the second language classrooms of Japanese universities.' The interview can be accessed here:

In 2017, a feature article about my research on learner reticence appeared in Japan's largest English-language newspaper, The Japan Times. The details of the article are as follows:

    Hollingworth, W. (2017, January 2). Study explores deafening silence in Japan's English-language classes. The Japan Times. Online version available at

In 2007, a feature article about a small research project I had conducted into the phenomenon of students sleeping in class appeared in Malaysia's only broadsheet English-language newspaper, The New Straits Times:

    Ling, K. S. (2007, July 8). In Japan, a nod to sleeping. The New Straits Times, Learning Curve, p. 16.


I have been the External Assessor of the University of York's BA TESOL programme within the Department of Education, and served as External Examiner for the MA Applied Linguistics and TESOL programme at York St John University. I have extensive experience of assessing research at an international level through working as a grant proposal reviewer for the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) and doing invited editorial review work for journals such as Applied Psycholinguistics, Modern Language Journal, Classroom Discourse, International Review of Applied Linguistics (IRAL), Language Teaching Research (LTR), System, and so on. I have also done invited work for the publishers Routledge, Palgrave Macmillan, Mouton De Gruyter and Springer as a book proposal reviewer.


BA (Hons), RSA Cambridge CELTA, MEd (Distinction), PhD (Nottingham), FHEA
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