University of Gdańsk, Poland; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2463-393X
Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal. Volume 2023-1(9). THE AFFECTIVE SIDE OF LANGUAGE LEARNING AND USE , pp. 4–5.
Affect comes into play much earlier and much stronger than most language users imagine. Its salience and dominance have now long been recognised by neuroscientists and psychologists, who have stressed that affect not only accompanies but, most importantly and surprisingly, precedes our decisions, determines our choices, drives our perception, and, as such, constitutes a fundamental component of our identities and personalities. In the light of this central position of affect in what we do, it is rather odd or even detrimental that, as recent ERL studies have shown, linguistic education has remained preoccupied with the spheres of actions and cognition far more than with students’ emotions (and beliefs). Even the times of the COVID-19 pandemic (addressed earlier in the sequence of ERL Journal’s volumes) have not brought about any marked change in this respect, although the educational circumstances created by teachers’ and learners’ remote work did offer an opportunity to accentuate emotions (as well as the approach to education and language which all of them hold). In other words – to put it in terms we have applied under the ERL framework, the teaching of languages has still been focused much more on the questions What can students do with language(s)? and How do students understand (the world through) language(s)? than on the question How do students feel about language(s)? (or What do students think of language(s)?). Whilst questions concerning, for instance, using and understanding words, phrases or texts are commonplace, those relating to feelings or views concerning the language elements learnt (be it How do you feel about this sentence? or What’s your attitude to this word?) are in most educational settings few and far between. Not striking a balance between the former (psychomotor and cognitive) and the latter two (affective and axiological) domains stands in stark contrast to contemporary psychological knowledge and can be argued to bring numerous detrimental effects, with a waste of time caused by the non-observance of students’ emotions being only one example of that.
We – meaning the entire ERL framework, particularly ERL Association as ERL Journal’s published – enter into what we have recently come to refer to as Cycle 2, centred around an individual learner and covering the years 2023-2026. Having completed Cycle 1 (2019-2022, ERL Journal’s Volumes 1-8), which have led us to the development and examination of the ERL premises presented by the graphic below, we now adopt pedagogical lenses and put the learner in the ERL limelight, so to speak. This focus of this year’s volumes (9 and 10) is the affective (emotional) side of language learning and use, to be followed in the forthcoming three years by issues addressing – in line with ERLA’s yearly foci – beliefs (axiological domain), activity (psychomotor domain), and thinking (cognitive domain). This four-strand sequence is pedagogically and psychologically motivated: it is after recognition of students’ emotions/feelings and beliefs (values, views) that we can, being well informed on these two underlying strata, properly work on students’ actions (behaviours), knowledge and reasoning. The four-domain perspective has reflected the rationale of the so-called multilateral education and, in the ERL framework, has traditionally constituted the grounds of the (informal) ERL Network (not to be confused with (formal) ERL Association) and its ‘Scope Minor’ outlined at the end of the volume. We encourage all those readers of our journal whose work or interest pertain to any of the strands included in that Scope to share their expertise with us by submitting a paper or by assisting us in any of the other ERL activities – for the benefit of all for whom languages and linguistic education matter.
It is marked interdisciplinarity that ensues from Cycle 2’s agenda: in order to properly examine the affective component of linguistic education, we need to seek the relevant expertise of psychologists, psycholinguists, neurolinguists, and other specialists researching a wide range of issues falling into this strand and including motivation, willingness to communicate, self-confidence, language anxiety, etc. By the same token, throughout the forthcoming years and respective volumes we shall be resorting to numerous fields and subdisciplines that will help us sufficiently account for students’ beliefs, actions, and reasoning, and the further or deeper we go, the more interconnections will follow. Hence, whilst this year (in Volumes 9 and 10) we will be focusing on the central dimension of affect (per se), in the following years and volumes we will be building upon earlier reflections and findings: (in the year 2024) students’ beliefs will be addressed through the prism and in combination with their affective side, (in the year 2025) their linguistic activity will be considered jointly with affect and beliefs, and, finally, (in the year 2026) Cycle 2 will close with the cognitive dimension of students’ linguistic development analysed through the triple filter of affect, beliefs, and language actions.
This volume of ERL Journal gathers papers (and two reports) divided into two sections: ‘Prioritising affect’, where the emotional dimension is – quite explicitly – delineated as the central, underlying, or mentally crucial, and ‘Building upon affect’, where the themes pertaining to feelings and emotions (such as positive anxiety, emotional experiences, or psychological well-being) acquire a secondary, auxiliary, or complementary status. Such a twofold status of affect assigned by this publication can be seen as reflective of teachers’ two types of skills: first, their abilities to appreciate students’ feelings and emotions so as to understand their approach to language learning and use, and, second, their capability of incorporating familiarity with affect (observing and reducing negative emotions, on the one hand, and boosting and capitalising on positive emotions, on the other hand) throughout classroom instruction and beyond. As our Readers will see, the texts included in this volume have been written in various contexts and apply to diversified geographical locations, which we choose to see as a great merit of the volume since it shows affect to be of paramount importance in linguistic education worldwide. We hope to be offering a very pleasant read for the audience, some of whom may be eager to submit to the next volume (also pertaining to the affective side of language and of linguistic education) and/or contribute to the next years’ ERLA foci or ERL Journal’s respective volumes.
Educational Role of Language – 4 Fundamental Premises
FULL Article (PDF)
Go to full Volume 2023-1(9)