DepEd SDO Nueva Ecija
Understanding Affective Filters in Second Language Acquisition
(by PERLA M. BERMEJO  11/24/2017)

Majority of the Filipino learners trying to study and use English inside the classroom tend to exhibit any of these behaviors: anxious and unconfident towards learning English. These attitudes are aggravated when they are required to speak in class. These situations only prove that learning English as a second language is closely and directly related to the awareness about certain individual differences such as the beliefs, attitudes, aptitudes, motivations and affective states of learners.
In various occasions, it has been proven that knowledge in English is indeed one of the indicators in ensuring the success of students in academic endeavours like in learning sciences and mathematics. Thus, the deterioration in second language proficiency can be associated to students’ academic achievement and overall decline in Philippine education (Torres, 2010).
The identification of language learning anxiety has attracted sizeable attention from researchers. Various anxiety-related behaviors particular to English language classroom setting includes trying to avoid difficult linguistic structures and express difficult or personal messages in the second language, getting nervous in role-play activities, not volunteering answers and participating in oral activities, coming unprepared to class, delaying taking the second language until very late, avoiding speaking in the English class, being less willing to communicate and express themselves compared to more relaxed students (Horwitz et al.,1986; MacIntyre, 1994; MacIntyre, et al., 1997 as cited by Torre in 2010).

Torres (2010) contend that second language communication is prone to anxiety arousal probably because it can challenge an individual's self-concept as a competent communicator because of the limited proficiency in the second language relative to the first. Young identifies six potential interrelated sources of language anxiety which may be partly attributed to the classroom environment: personal and interpersonal anxieties, which could be related to communication apprehension; learner beliefs about language learning; instructor beliefs about language teaching; instructor-learner interactions; classroom procedures; and language testing. MacIntyre contend that anxious students will have lower levels of verbal production, will be less likely to volunteer answers in class and will be reluctant to express their views in a second language conversation.
Self-efficacy, on the other hand, is a psychological construct which is defined as a general, overall belief of self-competence related to the mastery of a particular task or activity. Increased self-efficacy has been found to positively affect a person’s choice of task, the effort they put into completing a task and their persistence until mastery of the task. A person will likely gravitate toward challenging tasks, put greater effort into achieving goals, and maintain performance for longer periods of time when self-efficacy is greater.
Self-efficacy has great impact to language acquisition. Studies have shown students who have higher level of self-efficacy tend to have more success in the second language learning. In psychological term, people with high self-efficacy are associated closely with optimism. On the other hand, people with low self-efficacy are linked to pessimism, depression and anxiety. Academic studies have shown self-efficacy to be the greatest predictor of achievement, and this is supported by research (Torres, 2010) in language teaching.
Second language acquisition is influenced by environmental factors, cognitive processes and innate linguistic mechanisms. The last two focus to the learner himself, while the former deals with other people whom the learner deals with, and the context where he belongs. Meanwhile, Krashen also points to the importance of factors other than those three which are also important in language acquisition. He mentioned affective filters such as motivation, self-efficacy and anxiety as vital in second language acquisition. In 1987, the author emphasized how affective variables relate to second language acquisition as underscored in the Affective Filter hypothesis. The hypothesis captures the

relationship between affective filters and the process of second language acquisition by positing that acquirers vary with respect to the strength or level of their affective filters. Second language learners whose attitudes are not optimal for second language acquisition will not only tend to seek less input, but they will also have a high or strong affective filter – even if they understand the message, the input will not reach that part of the brain responsible for language acquisition. Those attitudes more conducive to second language acquisition will not only seek and obtain more input, they will also have a lower or weaker filter. They will be more open to the input, and it will strike deeper.
Perhaps majority of the English teachers in the country share similar observations as regards apprehension and discomfort experienced by many students who attempt to acquire and produce second language. Compared with other classes, there are more Filipino learners whose nervousness and anxiety are aggravated when they are to engage themselves in any activity during English class.




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