The affective filter is a concept put forward by Stephen Krashen describing the relationship between the processes of language acquisition and the emotional or psychological states of language learners (Krashen 423). Krashen argues that it is “more than coincidence” that anxiety-inducing classroom activities are often ineffective at promoting language acquisition, while activities putting students at ease are often more effective. Theoretically, a lower affective filter or lower-stress environment will promote an optimal language learning situation, while a raised affective filter can disrupt or undermine learning.
Learning a language is usually stressful, but, as Linda Schinke-Llano and Robert Vicars there are many methods for countering the inevitable anxiety of the language classroom, including “Lozanov’s work on Suggestopedia, Curran’s on Counseling Learning/Community Language Learning, and Krashen and Terrell’s on the Natural Approach” (325).
Some might argue that the nature of education inevitably produces uncertainty, doubt, lack of motivation, and anxiety. At top-tier institutions, the pressure to compete and succeed can be enormous, and students–regardless of their linguistic or cultural backgrounds or preparation–feel the strain. Amid everything else, students in language classrooms feel additional stress unique to language learning. Schinke-Llano and Vicars argue, “It behooves all of us as second language educators to see to it that we provide classroom activities that are as facilitative as possible of negotiated interaction and that, in turn, allow our students to feel as comfortable as possible in their execution” (328). In other words, teachers would be well-advised to create and deploy classroom activities and strategies (see also above) that can help students lower or at least cope more effectively with emotional factors capable of impeding their learning.
Berg, Katherine. “Affective Filter.” YouTube, Uploaded by Katherine B., 22 Oct. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUzutTV_YVA.
Krashen, Stephen. “The Input Hypothesis: An Update.” Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics (GURT) 1991: Linguistics and Language Pedagogy: The State of the Art. Georgetown University Press, 1992. Google Books, https://books.google.com/books?id=GzgWsZDlVo0C&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false. Accessed 10 Apr. 2019.
Schinke-Llano, Linda, and Robert Vicars. “The Affective Filter and Negotiated Interaction: Do Our Language Activities Provide for Both?” The Modern Language Journal, vol. 77, no. 3, 1993, pp. 325–329. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/329101.