Stretching the boundaries: Language learning psychology

Sarah Mercer*, Stephen Ryan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


In this article, we trace the story of a newly emerging field of study and the role of interdisciplinarity in its development. As the name suggests, the psychology of language learning is a field that connects the two disciplines of psychology and language learning, but it also encompasses other disciplines as diverse as communication studies, education studies and cultural studies. As a recognizable, independent field of enquiry with an established community of scholars, it is still in its infancy. However, its short history reveals key issues relating to the nature of interdisciplinarity and the struggles of a new interdiscipline to emerge and gain acceptance. We hope that this article will simultaneously serve as a call to like-minded scholars in our field to adopt a more overtly interdisciplinary approach and as a plea for recognition and support within the established community of interdisciplinarians. Although our core narrative may be a familiar one to expert interdisciplinarians, we still believe that the specifics of our account represent an original contribution to understanding the processes of an emerging interdiscipline. To help position this article and the discussions within, we will begin with a brief overview of the development of the field, discussing some of the reasons behind its emergence and identifying key characteristics. We will then discuss the attractions of such an interdisciplinary field of research and reflect on the challenges facing those working in this area. We will conclude by proposing an agenda to help promote future interdisciplinary research into the psychology of language learning. This article is published as part of a collection on interdisciplinarity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number16031
JournalPalgrave Communications
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)
  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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