Lowering the Affective Filter

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Lowering the Affective Filter

By | May 2012
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Lowering the Affective Filter

In Chapter 4 Judith Lessow-Hurley writes (p. 58) “Krashen refers to the affective component of language learning as an affective filter, a kind of emotional barrier to language learning that must be lowered if acquisition is to take place.” Discuss three activities which you would use in your own classroom to lower this affective filter.

The Affective Filter hypothesis embodies Krashen's view that a number of “affective variables” play a facilitative, but non-causal, role in second language acquisition. These variables include: motivation, self-confidence and anxiety. Krashen claims that learners with high motivation, self-confidence, a good self-image, and a low level of anxiety are better equipped for success in second language acquisition. Low motivation, low self-esteem, and debilitating anxiety can combine to “raise” the affective filter and form a “mental block” that prevents comprehensible input from being used for acquisition. In other words, when the filter is “up” it impedes language acquisition. There are many ways in which educators can lower a student’s affective filter. Creating a positive learning environment can make an immense difference for students. The classroom decor, arrangement of desks, music, emotional environment (the morale and atmosphere), a sense of security and the strategies the teacher employs contribute to student success. One strategy to help lower students’ affective filters is to create an emotionally safe environment in the classroom. I enlist the students to help create classroom rules and encourage them to include rules that require respect for each other. Language learners should be able to learn in an environment that allows them to voice their opinions, ask questions, and make mistakes without fear of humiliation. I also let the students know who I am as a person and educator. I feel that sharing a bit of my life with them allows for students to feel more comfortable in my classroom....
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