Learning Log: the Affective Filter Hypothesis

The Affective Filter Hypothesis: Some Insights “The attendance for Miss Zaljiah’s English class has never been below 80% throughout her six teaching years in the polytechnic. You can often find her sitting beside the students working and guiding them through answers and task completion. Students’ commitment are often witnessed through their energy level, engagements during discussions in reaction to her video-recorded lectures. Smartphones, ‘Google’ and ‘Facebook’ are often their constant companion. At 55, she is an inspiration. ” Teachers today go the extra mile to create relevant content, reflective enough of the real world.

With the birth of screen-staring culture, it is undeniable how technology has overwhelmed current classroom pedagogies increasing the dire need for more enjoyable and stress-free learning environment. From Krashen’s perspective, Affective Filter seem to have its stand. The affective filter by Krashen is a ‘mental barrier’ students and teachers must reduce for learning fluidity. (Dulay and Burt, 1977 in Krashen, 1981). These three factors; low motivation and self-confidence combined with high anxiety built in students a ‘mental wall’ which impedes language from being acquired and internalized. Krashen, 1982). Students’ affective filter must be kept low with confidence and motivation, in order for the highest input to possibly reach the acquisition part of the brain. (Krashen, 1981). Supported and summarized by Macintyre (1995), he stated “language learning is a cognitive ability that relies on encoding, storage and retrieval processes. Anxiety can interfere by creating divided attention scenarios for anxious students. ” (p. 96). Gardner and Macintyre’s (1993) characterized this apprehension as derogatory self-related cognitions.

Now, the question is does learning stop when the fun stops? Does learning fail because of students’ anxiety and boredom? Or learning fails because students feel anxious and bored? We only focus and emphasize what deemed important for us. While one may agree the affective filter plays a role, its causal relationship cannot be proven. It is bias to say learning happens only with motivated and confident students and if they are not, learning never took place. It can never be argued that the presence of learning is the absence of anxiety or otherwise.

To debate from an eclectic point of view, students’ various learning styles, multiple intelligences, idiosyncracies, language ego, literacy creativity and error-correction tolerance influences the acquisition process. These affective domains function in both directions. (Cook, 2000) Both students and teachers complement the learning process. The teacher certainly has the “influential effect on both the linguistic performance and emotional well-being of the students”. (Heyde, 1999 in Brown, 2000). Students can “unfold their wings” with proper classroom techniques. (Andres, 1999).

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In conclusion, teachers should develop a perceptive and intuitive ability backed by theoretical grounds to decide on the effectiveness for the students. Students should not be choked in their language attempts as ‘anxiety can be facilitated’ (Bailey, 1983) in creating a meaningful learning environment. The fundamental principle of SLA is that every human capacity and ability is diversified should be addressed. Every lesson should aim to resonate with the spirit of each learner as balance is created in tapping everybody’s interest in the language classroom. (510 words) ———————– 1

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