leaning (affective factors)
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leaning (affective factors)
Stern's claim that "the affective component contributes at least as much and often more to language learning than the cognitive skills” (1983:386), is supported by a large body of recent cross-disciplinary research showing that affective variables have significant influence on language achievement (e.g. Gardner 1985; Skehan 1989; Spolsky 1989; Gardner & MacIntyre 1992; 1993a;). Damasio (1994) shows that emotions are a part of reason on the neurobiological level, and LeDoux sees emotion and cognition as partners: "minds without emotions are not really minds at all” (1996:25). The study of affect has thus become increasingly popular in the 1980s and 1990s, to the extent that Stevick warns against viewing it as the latest "philosopher's stone” (1999:43) which will solve all learning and teaching problems. Given the over-readiness of the teaching profession to accept previous "trends” to the exclusion of all that has gone before, this warning is timely, and a symbiotic balance of the cognitive and the non-rational in the classroom seems an appropriate result to strive for, rather than any excessive reaction to the "emotional illiteracy" of Western education, as described by Dickinson (1987:25) and Goleman (1995). J. H. Schumann (1975) offers an excellent review of early literature on affective factors and the problem of age in SLA research, and Arnold & Brown (1999) provide a more contemporary perspective from the view of the language learner as an individual (anxiety, inhibition, extroversion/introversion, self-esteem, motivation [extrinsic/intrinsic], learner styles) and as a participant in a socio-cultural situation (empathy, classroom transactions, cross-cultural processes). These two articles will be used here as the basis for discussion and the reader is referred to them for a more detailed examination of the issues. Affect: Definitions Arnold (Ed. 1999) defines affect in terms of "aspects of emotion, feeling, mood or attitude which condition behavior", while Dickinson (1987:25) describes it as being concerned with the learner's attitude towards the target language and users of it, and with his/her emotional responses. Stevick (1999:44) follows Dulay et al(1982): one's 'affect' towards a particular thing or action or situation or experience is how that thing or that action or that situation or that experience fits in with one's needs or purposes, and its resulting effect on one's emotions ... affect is a term that refers to the purposive and emotional sides of a person's reactions to what is going on. (Stevick 1999:55) This review of affect in second language learning follows and extends Stern's (1983:383) three major concepts of affect (motivation, attitudes, and personality), to include beliefs, anxiety, lea
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