This article discusses certain influences on second and foreign language (S/FL) teachers and their teaching. I take the social contexts of teaching in schools as of primary concern because despite claims that teaching is a profession, its members often operate under conditions of far less autonomy than many of those in more prestigious professions. I go on to consider both the negative and positive aspects of the role of administrations on S/FL teachers and suggest administrative support for teacher development as an important means to improvement. The article also discusses FL teacher education and research in light of various criticisms that have been levelled at it and introduces the additional perspective of critical applied linguistics, which, I argue, may help to rectify some of the problems.