Hello! Welcome! How are you? I am so glad you are here! I believe in you! You can do it! Thank you!
Given the many demands educators have to juggle, successfully teaching a second language, modelling comprehensible dialogue, and reducing the affective filter by creating low-anxiety situations in a test-obsessed world, can feel like a gamble, a frustrating pursuit, extra work, or a waste of time.
Yet it does not have to be . . .
In 1982, when Linguist Stephen D. Krashen proposed his hypothesis on affective filter reduction, (Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition), he wrote:
“Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language. The best methods might also be the most pleasant, and that, strange as it seems, language acquisition occurs when language is used for what it was designed for, communication.”
Input FILTER >>>> Language Acquisition Device Acquired Competence* (Dulay and Burt, 1977, Operation of the Affective Filter) *Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition.
“True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice.” – The Honourable Dr. Martin Luther King
In a hip-hop song, “Justice” would be renamed “Just-us” – the teacher and the students in the classroom having honest, meaningful, personalised conversations. As the guiding leader in the classroom, educators, are responsible for the energy that we bring into the room. We affect the filter.
Boredom, alienation, intimidation, anxiety and the need to reduce the affective filter travels across all academic disciplines. Here are four tips to help foster students’ success.
1. Motivation: Personalise classrooms and assessments. Place positive affirmations in the classroom. Use simple vocabulary and powerful, positive imagery. Place students’ photographs and goals in a consistent, accessible location.
“I am responsible for the energy that I bring into the classroom. I am unique. I am powerful. I am different. I am prepared. I am kind. I am genuine. I am getting better and better every day. I am loved. I am patient.”
2. Creativity and anxiety: Foster low anxiety by informing students of and preparing them for upcoming tests. Create communicative and collaborative assessments that address their learning styles. Add students’ names to the exam.
3. Levity: Use comedy, art, costumes and peaceful music. Role-play reading comprehension lessons/tests. Go back/forward in time and include global accents (provided that they are not viewed as offensive).
4. Self Confidence: Play academic games with student-centered lessons that build confidence and camaraderie.
Speaking slowly, reinforcing directives, legibly writing key points on the board, being mindful of our tone of voice, energy and biases, will foster greater student participation.
A critical component in reducing the affective filter is the relationship that we have with students. When we are genuinely interested in students’ development and journey beyond the classroom, they can feel our sincerity.
I’ll never forget working at an all boys’ boarding school. My student invited me to and really wanted me to attend his Saturday wrestling match. I was shocked. I knew nothing about wrestling, yet I am so glad I attended. It taught me that real and meaningful conversations begin when the relationship doors are open. Therein, face-to-face, is where true learning begins. These face-to-face encounters may be the only ones our students shall read and remember.
By Lisa Fátimah
As an Orton-Gillingham trained Learning Specialist, Lisa-Fátimah specialises in designing multisensory English and Spanish language development lessons, modi cations and assessments for traditional and Dyslexic students. Her radio shows highlight the primacy of girls’ education, bilingualism and world language acquisition for a global audience. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.