University of Gdańsk, Poland; https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2463-393X
Bibliographic citation: (ISSN 2657-9774) Educational Role of Language Journal. Volume 2023-2(10). THE EMOTIONAL DIMENSION OF LANGUAGE AND OF LINGUISTIC EDUCATION, pp. 4–6.
Linguistic education, like practically any other form of education, is strongly determined by affect. Although the entire “story” is far more complex, we might summarise it by saying that if students and teachers find themselves in emotionally convenient circumstances, linguistic progress is easily noticeable, whereas in situations when either of them are experiencing negative feelings or emotions, linguistic efforts are likely to prove simply futile. As implied by the well-known concept of the affective filter, negative emotions – be it fear, anxiety, discomfort and such – act an invisible wall blocking cognition and disable linguistic education. Hence, the teachers’ and – predominantly – the students’ affect either aids or hinders education and it does so in a less or more concealed fashion. On the level of terminology, too, the presence and salience of affect is either explicit or implicit. The former is the case with the said notion of affective filter and others such as speech anxiety, emotional intelligence, willingness to communicate, everyday stressors, etc. The latter is even more extensive, although it tends to be overlooked or disregarded, which can be exemplified by such linguistic concepts as, for example, (a) fossilization, which is mostly defined in cognitive terms and relates to that part of language users’ competence which has become fixed and may fall subject to stagnation – but which results from our natural need of comfort and of social recognition; or even such a traditional term as (b) language performance, which is contrasted against language competence and also viewed through a predominantly cognitive prism – but which, too, is subject to our emotional stance and individual invariably-unstable and internally influential feelings.
Having entered Cycle 2 of ERLA’s trajectory this year, we continue our studies on the affective dimension, focusing – by definition – on the individual student and her/his experiencing of educational reality (in accordance with our Scope Minor), as any form of education remains primarily a personal experience. In Cycle 2 (scheduled for four subsequent years so as to cover four complementary domains) we prioritise the affective domain owing to how it underlies humans’ learning processes and either opens or closes gates to successful education (meaning, too, that our beliefs, actions, and thinking rest upon it). Following this logic, it pays to consider how ERLA’s fundamental premises (see the graphic below) can be read with the affect as the key educational driver: the way we feel about language shapes our entire identity and understanding of the world (we can simply feel like becoming acquainted with particular subject matter or not). Hence, all education rests on our affective stance, which imposes on teachers the need to skilfully manage their students’ linguistic affect (and prompt them to willingly listen, read, write, and speak), which causes the linguistic affect to merit a special position in education at all levels and in all disciplines.
Our joint discussion of these issues took place at the 6th International Pedagogical and Linguistic ERL Conference subtitled ‘On Emotions in Language Learning and Use’, hosted by the University of Ulm (Germany) on 13-14 June this year – which bore fruit also in the form of a number of papers also included hereunder. Organised around 4 modules – connections, systems, domains, and disciplines, the conference addressed the link between emotions and language on the general level (pertaining to questions such as how emotions relate to language skills, what factors determine our emotional approach to language and its learning, etc.) as well as on more detailed strata (relating to specific theories and methodologies applicable for the link in question, how different educational systems across the globe take emotions into account, etc.). As the conference venue had been chosen owing the main discipline of study of the host (Department of Applied Emotion and Motivation Psychology), the key conference talks additionally concentrated on such affect-related themes as achievement emotions, bilingualism (as a lens to human brains), the role emotional content and psychological context (through the perspective of neuroscience studies), or holistic approaches to the studies of emotions and identity in language learning and use.
This volume of ERL Journal gathers texts (twelve papers, one review, and one report) falling into two sections: on the emotional dimension of linguistic education and on the emotional dimension of language per se – as the consideration of either of them should not be conducted without taking the other into account (otherwise we would end up having no idea what particular affective facets need to be attributed to). The papers present a high degree of diversity in terms of their educational settings, goals, theoretical foundations and methodologies applied. They substantially differ in what aspect they examine, be it the emotional dimension of propaganda in songs, the affective benefits of the impact exerted by literature, brain-based learning strategies, or the emotional intelligence of translators and interpreters. What they all have in common, though, is the far-reaching appreciation of affect and how it determines what is happening inside or outside the classroom. The total interdisciplinary picture to be drawn from all the texts included in the volume is quite straightforward: the greater the extent to which affect is implemented into all forms of language-oriented efforts, the more beneficial effects (among students, teachers, and all other language users) can be anticipated. This role of affect is practically impossible to overestimate and needs to be fostered across disciplines, in which the affective filter – typically and wrongly assigned to linguistic education only – matters a lot.
Educational Role of Language – 4 Fundamental Premises
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