What is the Affective Filter in Language Learning?
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Stephen Krashen is a well-known name in the EFL industry. His ideas and theories have been influential in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, mostly because they have stood the test of time. Krashen came up with five hypotheses of learning, one of which is the affective filter hypothesis.
The affective filter hypothesis basically explains that language cannot be learned if a learner is blocking the learning process. In other words, a learner can be mentally prepared to learn, or they might be hindering this process in some way.
A learner can have a high affective filter or a low affective filter: the higher the filter, the more likely language learning will be impeded; the lower the filter, the more likely that language learning will take place.
We can think of the affective filter like a mask. When a mask is worn over the whole face, a person will have difficulty seeing or speaking, and even hearing – and learning. When the mask is under their chin, a person is able to see, speak, hear – and learn – much more easily.
What causes a high affective filter?
Stress and discomfort will adversely affect learning. In order to be able to learn effectively, a learner should feel safe and comfortable in the learning environment. The learner should not experience high levels of stress or anxiety during the learning process. Plus, the learner should feel motivated to participate in learning activities without worrying about making mistakes.
Think about it for a minute: the times you are able to study the hardest are probably times when you feel comfortable and safe. You are relaxed and not under any pressure. You feel calm, both mentally and physically. This is what we want to replicate in our EFL classrooms.
Read more: How Can Teachers Motivate Learners?
How does this affect the EFL classroom?
This might all seem very logical to you, but you’ll be surprised how easily it can be for students to feel uncomfortable or tense during a lesson. If you think of situations which require you to do a bit of public speaking or speak with a group of people, you may understand the anxiety students may feel when called on in class.
The fear of making a mistake or looking stupid can be overwhelming. This can even prevent a student from speaking up or participating in classroom activities. This will mean the student won’t benefit as much from the lesson and won’t learn as effectively.
What can the teacher do to lower the affective filter?
There are many things teachers can do to help the situation. Firstly, make sure the students know each other. If the class is a new one, spend some time on getting-to-know-you activities so that the students can become friends. It’s much easier to speak in front of friends than strangers and students won’t feel embarrassed about making mistakes.
When the students do make mistakes, by all means correct them but don’t make a big deal out of it and don’t do it in an embarrassing way. Ensure you treat your students equally so nobody feels like you are picking on them or making fun of them.
Read more: Encouraging Mistakes in the TEFL Classroom
It’s also important to bear in mind the physical environment of the classroom. Is it a sauna, or an igloo? Is there a gale force wind blowing through the windows? Are you students sitting on top of one another? As the teacher it is your duty to make sure the classroom is at the right temperature and your students are as comfortable as possible.
Though the affective filter is just one of many theories related to learning a foreign language, it is one worth remembering because as teachers it is something we have a certain amount of control over. And we all know, happy students = a happy classroom = a happy teacher!
Please note: This blog post was originally published on 5 September 2017 but has been updated.
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Personal information is no longer needed by ELEARNING FUTURES LTD but needed by you in connection with a legal claim
- In most circumstances, we will securely delete or dispose of personal information when we no longer need it for our legitimate business purposes. Our approach to retention is outlined in our corporate retention schedules.
- However, if the personal information we no longer need would assist you in establishing, exercising or defending a legal claim, you can require us to keep the information for as long as necessary. We may ask you to provide an explanation and any available supporting evidence that a legal claim is ongoing or contemplated.
Right to erasure of personal data (“the right to be forgotten”)
In the following circumstances, you have the right to require that ELEARNING FUTURES LTD securely deletes or destroys your personal information:
- If the personal information we hold about you is no longer necessary for the purposes for which we originally collected it.
- The processing is based on consent – if you have previously given your consent to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD collecting and processing your personal information, and you notify us that you withdraw your consent. Please note: withdrawing your consent does not mean the processing of your personal data which occurred before the withdrawal was unlawful.
- We are processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes, and you want us to stop.
- If you think ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has processed your personal information unlawfully.
If you think any of the above situations apply, we may ask you for an explanation and further information to verify this.
Right to object to processing
You have the right to object to the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD processing your personal data in the following circumstances:
Personal information used for direct marketing
If we are using your personal information to send you direct marketing, you have the right to object at any time. If you exercise this right, we will stop processing your personal information for direct marketing purposes. However, we may keep your information on a “suppression list” to ensure your information is not added to any marketing lists at some point in the future.
Automated decision making and profiling
- ‘Profiling’ is the automated use of personal data held on a computer to analyse or predict things that have a legal effect, or other similarly significant effects, on the individual. Examples would include economic situation, health, personal preferences or interests and location. You have the right not to be subject to a solely automated decision (that is, a decision made electronically, with no human intervention), and this may include profiling (although there is no general right to object to profiling). If you are concerned the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD has made a solely automated decision about you, you can object.
- Please note, ELEARNING FUTURES LTD is allowed to carry out automated decisions with no human intervention where you have given your explicit consent to this processing (although you have the right to withdraw your consent).
- We are also permitted to make automated decisions with no human intervention in the following circumstances:
- The automated decision is necessary to enter into, or perform a contract, or complete a contract involving you and the ELEARNING FUTURES LTD.
- The automated decision is allowed under a law passed at the European Union level, or at the level of the European Union or EEA member state level (i.e., is allowed under national law). The law will provide safeguards to protect your rights and freedoms.
However, you still have a general right to object in both of the above circumstances, providing reasons why you think the processing is having a negative effect on you. If you do object, we will carefully consider your reasons, and decide whether to review the decision-making process in your specific case.
Right to data portability
- If you have provided your information to ELEARNING FUTURES LTD, you have the right to request and receive a copy of that information in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format.
- You also have the right to ask us to send the information we hold about you to another organisation.
- There are some situations in which the right to data portability does not apply. For further information, please contact us.
Exercising your rights concerning the processing of your personal information
If you wish to exercise any of the above rights concerning the way in which we process your personal information, please contact:
Risk Management Team
ELEARNING FUTURES LTD,
21-22 Old Steine,
Email: [email protected]
Your right to complain to a national data protection regulator (data protection supervisory authority)
- If you think we have processed your personal information unfairly or unlawfully, or we have not complied with your rights under GDPR, you have the right to complain to a national data protection regulator.
- Complaints about how we process your personal information can be considered by the data protection regulator.