She Uban's Chronicles

We blog for edutainment!


Affective domain is generally assumed to influence Second Language Acquisition (SLA). Affective factor here refers to the emotional side of human behavior. The development of affective states or feelings involves a variety of personality factors, both feeling about one self and about others with whom he/she comes into contact. A comprehensive definition of the affective domain can be outlined into five levels of affective known as Blooms Taxonomy (1964): Receiving, Responding, Valuing, Organizing the values into system, and value system. There follows the description of each:

  1. At the first and fundamental level, the development of affectively begins with receiving. A person must be aware of the environment surrounding them.
  2. Next, a person must go beyond receiving to responding, that is committing himself in at least some small measure to a phenomenon or a person. Such responding in one dimension maybe in agreement, but in another higher dimension, the person is willing to respond voluntarily without pressure, and then to receive satisfaction from the responds.
  3. The third level of affectivity involves valuing, placing a worth on a thing, a behavior or a person.
  4. The fourth level of the affective domain is the organization of values into a system of beliefs, determining interrelationships among them, and establishing a hierarchy of values within the system.
  5. Finally, an individual characterized by and understands him in terms of his value system. It is at this level that problem solving, for example is approached on the basis of a total, self consistent system.

The above taxonomy was first intended for educational purposes, but it now has been widely used to understand the affective domain of human behavior in general, included verbal behavior. The basic concepts of Receiving, Responding, and Valuing are universal. Second language learner need:

a) To be receptive both the target language and these with whom they are communicating with that target language.

b) To be responsive both to the person as well as the context of the communication

c) To be willing to place a certain value on the communicative act.

Thus, understanding how human being feels, responds, believes, and values is very important in relation to second long learning. Language is interwoven into the whole aspect of human behavior. Studying language cannot be separated the whole person, a being who has physic, cognition, and more importantly emotion.

The Affective Factors

1. Self-Esteem

Self-Esteem is a feeling of self-worth. It is a personal judgment of worthiness that is expressed in the attitude that individual holds toward him. It expresses an attitude of approval, and indicates that extent to which an individual successful and worthy. (Cooper Smith, 1967; Brown, 1980; 2000)

Shavelson, Hubner, and Stanton (1967) propose a trio hierarchy to account for a self-system:

a) Global self-system

b) Specific self-system

c) Task self-system

People usually derive their sense of self system from two different sources:

1. The accumulation of experiences with themselves and with others.

2. The assessment of the external world around them.


v Studies of Self-Esteem

The global self esteem refers to the way individual’s overall self esteem. It is the general assessment someone make of his own worth over time and across a number of situations.

Specific self esteem refers to the way individuals perceive themselves in various life contexts (social interaction, education, work, home, etc) or on certain characteristics (gregariousness, empathy, and flexibility)

The tasks self esteem refers to the evaluation or perception individuals give to themselves on specific tasks. In second language acquisition context, it may relate to an individuals’ self evaluation of a particular aspects of the process: Speaking, writing, or even a special kind of classroom exercise.


2. Empathy

Empathy is an individual’s capacity to put oneself in another’s place. That is the process of reaching beyond the self to understand what another person is feeling.

In more comprehensive definition, empathy is usually as “the projection of one’s own personality of another in order to understand him or her better” (Brown 1980: 107; 2000: 153).

It is also defined as “a process of comprehending in which a temporary fusion of self-object boundaries permits an immediate emotional apprehension of the affective experience of another” (Guiora, 1972: 142).

Two important aspects to develop empathy based on Hogan and Guiora’s agreement:

© An awareness and Knowledge of one’s own feeling

© Identification with another person

In other word, people can only empathize or know someone else only if they actually know themselves.

v Studies on Empathy

Several researches have carried out studies on empathy and language learning. Guiora et al. (1972) reported a positive correlation between pronunciation accuracy of fourteen French teachers and their score on the Momentary Expression (MME) test; a test designed to measure degrees of empathy. A study conducted by Naiman, Erohlich, Stern, and Fedesco (in Brown, 1990) however, reported no significant correlation between empathy and language success. They used Hogan’s empathy scale, a test battery usually used to discover characteristics of the good language learner.

The contradiction findings of the researches are not unexpected. Studies on personality variables are often problematic in the accuracy of the test used to measure the traits. Methodological problems of such MME and Hogan’s empathy scale are cases in point. They can accurately identify personality extremes (schizophrenic, paranoid, psychotic behavior, etc), but cannot differentiate among the normal people (Brown, 1980: 109; 2000:154).

The implication of the researches findings is that empathy needs to be defined cross-culturally, different cultures express empathy differently.

Indeed, human being is a social animal and the major mechanism for maintaining the bonds of the society is language. It is the major tool used by individuals to transact with others, the process of reaching out beyond the self of others. Empathy is one of transactional variables applied in second language.

Communication, as well, requires a degree of empathy. In order to communicative effectively someone needs to understand other person’s affective and cognitive states. An individual will fail to communicate when he falsely assumes other person’s affective and cognitive states. In order to make correct assumption, he needs to transcend his own ego boundaries so that he can send and receive message clearly.

Empathetic communication is easier to achieve than written communication. In oral communication, someone can get feedback immediately from the hearer. A misunderstood word or ideas can be directly questioned by the hearer, and the speaker repeats the expression until it is clearly interpreted. In written communication, on the other hand, some one cannot get immediate feedback from the reader. Thus, he must be able to communicate ideas by means of a clear empathetic judgment of the reader’s affective and cognitive state thus; the problem of empathy is crucial in second language learning.


3. Anxiety

Anxiety is one of the affective factors, which are generally assumed to influence second language acquisition. Anxiety is associated with feelings of uneasiness, frustration, self-doubt, apprehension, or worry (Scovel, 1978: 134).

Scovel further distinguishes anxiety into two types, they are:

© Facilitative anxiety : Motivates the learner to ‘fight’ the new learning task. It gears the learner emotionally for approval behavior.

© Debilitative anxiety : Motivates the learner to ‘flee’ the new learning task. It stimulates the individual emotionally to adopt avoidance behavior.

The two types of anxiety based on Oxford (1990):

© Helpful anxiety : It is a positive factor relates to some concern or comprehension over a particular task to be accomplished.

© Harmful anxiety : It is a negative factor that may relate to nervousness or tension which rids someone from accomplishing the job; some self-doubt which should be avoided at all costs.


v Studies of Anxiety

Several studies on the correlation between anxiety and second language acquisition have been conducted. The studies have suggested the benefit of facilitative or helpful anxiety in learning second language. An empirical research has been conducted by Gardner, Smythe, Clement, Glieksman (1976) on the components of the integrative motive. One of the components is termed as ‘French Classroom Anxiety’, feelings of anxiety in the French classroom situation.

The study shows a negative correlation between the French classroom anxiety and the scores of speech skills. This negative correlation indicates, according to Gardner, that the more anxious the students are the less proficient in speech skills they will be.

The other example is the study competitiveness and anxiety in second language conducted by Kathleen M. Baley (1995). This is a diary study of her own competitiveness and anxiety while learning French as a foreign language. She realized that sometimes her drive to compete with other members of the class hinder her second language acquisition. Other times, however, this motivated her to try harder (as the case of facilitating anxiety when she completed an intensive review so she would feel more at ease during oral classroom work. Beside it is motivating and encouraging; her experience also suggests that it is not the individual’s permanent predisposition to anxiety but rather the strength of the anxiety he is feeling at the moment (state anxiety) which determines whether the anxiety is facilitative or debilitative.

This is in accord with Oxford (1990) who suggests that anxiety can be experienced at two levels:

© At the deepest or Global level : Trait anxiety is more permanent predisposition to be anxious. Some people are generally anxious about many things.

© At a more momentary or Situational level : State anxiety is experienced in relation to some particular event or situation.


4. Motivation

Motivation is commonly thought of as an inner drive, impulse, emotion, or desire that moves one to a particular action (Brown, 1980: 118). In general human beings usually have innate needs or drives through their intensity are often conditioned by environment.

Six desires or needs of human beings that underlie the construct of motivation based on Ausubel (1968: 368 – 379):

1. The need for exploration

Ex: The mountain climber climbs the mountain to probe what they do not now before.

2. The need for manipulation

The need to operate the environment that we do not know before.

3. The need for activity

For movement and exercise, both physical and mental.

4. The need for stimulation

Ex: in doing something, we need the stimulation feeling, ideas, or even people to do.

5. The need for knowledge

In processing the exploration, manipulation, activity, and manipulation, we need knowledge to solve the problem, so we will get the best result.

6. The need for ego enhancement

After doing that’s all, we will be known and respected by others people

The six needs mentioned above are especially relevant to second language acquisition. Just, an example of a child who is motivated to read sees reading meets the needs, such as for exploration, stimulation and knowledge. On the contrary the child who is not motivated sees no way in which reading meets his needs. Thus, foreign language learner who is instrically or extrinsically meeting needs in learning the language will be positively motivated to learn.

Two types of motivation based on Robert Gardner and Wallace Lambert, which drive learners to learn foreign language:

© Integrative motivation : Motivation in which the learners wish to integrate themselves within the culture of the second language group. They wish to identify themselves with that society and become part of it.

Ex: In using language “how are you?” is too formal, the young is usually say “Whatz up”. So the young learner prefers use “Whatz up” than “How are you”.

© Instrumental motivation : Motivation to acquire foreign language for utilitarian or instrumental purposes such as furthering career, improving social status, meeting and educational requirement, and so forth. They have career or academic orientation.


v Studies on Motivation

Izzo and Lukman, investigated that instrumental motivation perform higher result, and leads more successful then does the Integrative one. Contrast with Izzo and Lukman, Clement and Kruidenier explain that the type of motivation and its strength are likely to be determined less by some generalized principle and more by who learn what and in what condition.

Some learner in some condition are more successful in learning if they are integratively motivated while others people in different context can take benefit from instrumental motivation.

Another dimension of motivation construct is:

© Intrinsic : the motivation which comes from the inside of the learner.

© Extrinsic : the motivation which comes from the outside of the learner.

Researches on motivation are more powerful than the extrinsic one. Burner (in Brown, 2000:165) claimed that one of the most effective way to help both children and adults think is to free them from rewards and punishment. Anyhow, successful language teaching should place ultimate efforts to intrinsically motivate students to succeed in their tasks what the teachers should do is to tap on to the learners’ natural inquisitiveness and then captive them in a process of a self confidence building, self determination, etc.



Fauziati, Endang. —-. Applied Linguistics. Surakarta: Muhammadiyah University Press.


Single Post Navigation


Comment navigation

  1. COuld I get a full reference for Ausubel (1968: 368 – 379)?

Comment navigation

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: