Czech EFL

Let the Czech check it out

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Affective filter in play

One of my students is struggling as she often seems unable to understand simple questions let alone much of the more complex input I provide. She's been through a few traditional language courses but what she clearly needs now is to work on her listening skills. As I see it, a high affective filter plays its part as well. Simply put, she always seems somewhat insecure and is beginning to skip classes in favour of her dentist! As my DOS pointed out, she'd rather see her dentist than me....!

Okay, I need to address the feelings and emotions first so I began today by asking about how she feels at the dentist etc. before I dug deeper. I asked about dating and relationships (I knew it was a problem) and could sense she didn't feel comfortable with such questions. Before she could utter a word I quickly introduced the issue of asking and avoiding personal questions:
  • If you don't mind my asking, ...
  • Sorry, I'd rather not say.
I stressed that language is power and we have to protect ourselves now and then against things we consider too personal. So I repeated the question and encouraged her to protect herself. Then I went on to introduce something stronger:
  • That's none of your business!
I asked again, bumped up against that wall of powerful language, roared back: "Excellent!" and enjoyed her smile and sense of relief/achievement.

The only purpose of power is to empower others. -- Scott Peck


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