The Affective Filter is one of Dr. Stephen Krashen’s hypotheses for language acquisition. It refers to the learner’s emotional state when learning a language. If a student is feeling stress during class, this could generate a mental block and cause them to feel overwhelmed, making the affective filter go high. The best approach for students’ acquisition process is to keep the affective filter low by fostering a positive and relaxed learning environment that motivates students to engage, stay motivated, and remain open to input.
Here are some suggestion to help keep that affective filter low:
Mistakes Are Ok!
Make sure your students understand that it is totally fine to make mistakes. When students make errors while communicating in the target language, it is best not to interrupt. Instead, as a teacher or instructor, engage with the students by modeling the correct way to express the idea. For example, if a student says, “This is a car blue,” the teacher would respond, “Yes, this is a blue car.” This approach ensures the student does not feel corrected and allows them to hear the correct form in context. Encouraging students to take risks in this way helps to keep the affective filter low.
Make Sure You are Using Comprehensible Language
Something that can quickly generate stress is a learner who doesn’t understand what’s being said to them. This will generate the affective filter to elevate. The best way for teachers to lower stress in the classroom is to always use comprehensible language and ensure that students understand the messages in the target language. It’s important to understand the proficiency level of our students, use visuals and body language to support the messages, as well as pause to check understanding
Games, Games And More Games!
Use non-competitive games. Participating in non-competitive games is an excellent way to minimize the affective filter, especially with activities such as memory games and bingo that involve vocabulary, phrases, or sentences from stories.These games don’t require a lot of preparation; some of them can even be created with your students. Games that incorporate movement are also great, such as Four Corners or A mí también. Total Physical Response (TPR)-based games, such as Follow the Leader, Simon Says, and Charades, work great too!
Stories are valuable tool for language teaching as they engage learners emotionally, provide contextual learning, expose them to natural language patterns, help them create emotional connections, and present a variety of language use. All these factors contribute to a positive learning environment with a lower affective filter. After telling or reading a story, you can extend it by having students engage in role-playing or acting out the narrative.
Less Is More!
When structuring lessons, consider the “less is more” approach to prevent overwhelming your students. Providing a manageable amount of new vocabulary and language structures helps maintain a low affective filter. Focus on quality over quantity, allowing students to thoroughly internalize the language before introducing new concepts. This contributes to a sense of achievement, reducing stress and anxiety for the learner.
An environment that promotes a low affective filter prompts learners to be more successful at acquiring a language!