Reducing the Affective Filter

Reducing the Affective Filter

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When working with English language learners, it is important for the teacher to understand the importance of reducing the affective filter of the learner. The goal of an English language learner’s teacher is to present comprehensible input and ensure that the students effectively acquire the language (Steward, 2010, p. 4). In doing research on learning a second language, Krashen recognized three personal issues that affect the success or failure of English language learners. These issues are said to be motivation, self-confidence and anxiety (Zafar, 2011, p. 144). In order for an English Language Learner to acquire a second language, it is up to educators to do everything necessary to ensure the personal issues are addressed.
Krashen felt that a high affective filter can keep comprehensible input from reaching the language acquisition device and lowering the affective filter allows the input to be acquired. He also states that that affective filter is not present in acquiring a first language, only second languages. Comprehensible input cannot be useful if the English language learner’s language acquisition device is blocked from profiting from it. The filter goes up when the learner feels unmotivated or does not have the confidence needed and it goes down if the learner does not feel anxious and is motivated to become a member of the group (Du, 2009, p. 162).
What we need is to find ways to use the ideas of Krashen’s hypothesis to help English language learners acquire their new language. As educators, it is necessary to get to know your students and figure out what motivates them to learn. Students may not be motivated to learn due to lack of interest or confidence in their abilities. Sometimes the teacher’s attitude can affect how a student learns and educators have to be aware of how their attitudes might hinder a student's chances of learning a new language. (Du, 2009, p. 164). Teachers need to be aware of their attitude and how they are portrayed when they are teaching students new things. If a teacher does not seem to be interested in whether the students learn, they are not helping motivate the students. By introducing a diversified teaching method and using positive and humorous language, teachers can “create a harmonious and light atmosphere for learning.” (Du, 2009, p. 164).
Another way teachers can help students when learning English is to help build their self-confidence which will lower their anxiety.

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By encouraging and praising student’s efforts, educators can give the English language learners the feeling that they can learn the new language and will be successful. Students should be allowed to get to know one another, work in groups on projects and work on building social skills. Also, it is important to allow students some quiet time if they are shy or do not feel confident in speaking up in class. (Du, 2009, p. 164).
Another thing that Krashen frowned upon with teaching a second language to students is corrective feedback. Krashen was more a fan of a hands off approach when dealing with error correction (Russell, 2009, p. 21). Russell (2009) found “The Affective Filter Hypothesis states that anxiety can raise a learner’s affective filter, which impedes fluency in the L2” (p. 21). Correcting students errors in the classroom can be harmful because it adds to their anxiety and lack of self-confidence. It will only make them embarrassed and afraid to speak up in class which will keep them from gaining fluency in the language they are trying to acquire.
Another technique that can stimulate learning for English language learners is using English songs in the classroom. This adds to the harmonious atmosphere in the classroom and helps reduce anxiety which helps in lowering of the affective filter. According to Shen (2009), “Affective Filter Hypothesis suggests that an ideal teacher should be capable of providing a classroom atmosphere conducive to motivating, encouraging his students and lessening their anxiety if there’s an” (p. 90). Students learning through song tend to see it more as entertainment than education. This allows them to be more relaxed because they see it as an amusing way to learn at school (Shen, 2009 p. 90). Finding ways to reduce the Affective Filter in students will allow them to benefit from the efforts of their teachers.


Works Cited

Du, X. (2009). The affective filter in second language teaching. Asian Social Science, 5(8), 162-165. Retrieved from http://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ass/article/view/3457/3131.
Russell, V. (2009). Corrective feedback, over a decade of research since Lyster and Ranta (1997): Where do we stand today? Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 6(1), 21-31. Retrieved from http://e-flt.nus.edu.sg/v6n12009/russell.pdf.
Shen, C. (2009). Using English songs: An enjoyable and effective approach to ELT. English Language Teaching, 2(1), 88-94. Retrieved from http://ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/elt/article/view/341/305.
Stewart, M. A. (2010). Walking in my students’ shoes: An ESL teacher brings theory to life in order to transform her classroom. Networks: An Online Journal for Teacher Research, 12(1), 1-6. Retrieved from http://journals.library.wisc.edu.libproxy.txstate.edu/index.php/networks/article/viewFile/211/408.
Zafar, M. (2011). Monitoring the 'monitor': A critique of Krashen's five hypotheses. Dhaka University Journal of Linguistics, 2(4), 139-146. Retrieved from http://www.banglajol.info/bd/index.php/DUJL/article/view/6903/5484.

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