Mind needs body! Practicing positive psychology in English language teaching


  • Christian Ludwig Freie Universität Berlin
  • Michaela Sambanis




Drama-based learning, Embodied cognition, Positive psychology, Gesture-based learning, Improv


Positive emotions are recognised as important for successful foreign language learning. Learners develop a positive attitude towards a language, are motivated to learn, and experience enjoyment through regular, meaningful, and positive engagement. Little attention, however, has so far been paid to the links between Positive Psychology, one of the reasons for the growth of interest in emotions, and embodied cognition which advocates the importance of the body and positive sensations for successful learning. While methods such as Total Physical Response (TPR) can help to get learners moving in class, learning through drama seems to be particularly apt to facilitate embodied learning. Students physically engage with situations, characters, and feelings as they inhabit different spaces, often collaboratively. This paper first introduces embodied cognition. It then discusses the links between embodiment and Positive Psychology, taking Seligman's PERMA MODEL as a point of reference. Following this, it shows how embodied learning can be integrated in the English as a foreign language classroom by using techniques from improvisational theatre.


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