English Language Learners

The Affective Filter

What to do first: Creating a welcoming ELL classroom environment

High Affective Filter

Imagine you have recently moved to a new community where everything is unfamiliar. You have left behind many of your close friends and family members. The food is strange and you have no idea how to get around or where you need to be. Perhaps the most daunting, you can't understand a word that is being spoken by others around you. You try so hard to understand, but the harder you try, the more frustrated others seem to become. In fact, it seems as though sometimes they are, literally, yelling at you.


Many would say that this situation could lead to anxiety and insecurity. A basic human response might be to just shut down. This is a high affective filter situation.

Low Affective Filter

Now imagine a situation in which you are comfortable in the environment. Even if those around you don't communicate in your native language, considerations have been applied to make you feel more at ease. Voice tones are positive, body language is warm and there seems to be an understanding that you are in the process of learning a second language.


This situation may lead to you feeling more confident, curious and open to trying new things. This is a low affective filter situation.

Affective Filter
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