Second Language Learning With Affective Accessories
Affect is emotion, at least in this article. We're focusing here on how to harness your emotions, your physical affect, to support you in your Odyssey to Second Language Land.
Three major strategies here canopy a powerful collection of other methods, tips and techniques, and believe me, we need to familiarize ourselves with these techniques and strategies if we are to harness our emotions in service of our language acquisition efforts. Without getting our heart into this in a positive, supportive way, we will feel awkward and frustrated and will not feel like continuing past our first few embarrassing mist rakes.
This is one reason I am emphatic in telling all who will listen to learn a second language. Learning a 'foreign' language always keeps that 'foreign' language at least a little bit 'foreign' to the learner. This is a subtle distinction, but one which has served hundreds of second language learners well in their efforts.
Affective Accessories clump into three major group hugs:
- Encouraging myself;
- Lowering my anxiety and
- Taking my emotional pulse.
Let's look at these in more detail.
Encouraging myself is both necessary and effective, bringing self-talk to the conscious level and bridging me through the rough times, the boring practice, the late night crams and the lonely study. Encouraging myself is almost always necessary sooner or later because adults can't always rely on others to encourage them, even though finding encouraging, supportive friends is a good idea!
Encouraging myself is done through positive self-talk, positive affirmations and written encouragement that I can carry with me. I also encourage myself by taking risks with language learning, wisely. I don't make outrageous claims that I'll learn 2,000 words in two weeks, so I can feel encouraged by my rational and real advancement toward my language learning goals. And of course I can encourage myself with an occasional reward for meeting my goals, getting my outcomes, mastering a dialog or carrying a conversation for a given amount of time. In this case, my reward can be anything from a submarine sandwich to a cup of tea or a carnation for my lapel... as long as it is ME that FEELS rewarded and encouraged!
Lowering my anxiety is important so that I can actually do some of the social or individual practice that needs to be done daily. A high anxiety level is a serious barrier to calm, fluent vocalization, so I lower my anxiety by using meditation, deep breathing or progressive relaxation. Another way to lower my anxiety is to use my favorite calm, slow music. Rock or thrash or death-metal is anathema to lowering anxiety, usually. Laughter, however, is an excellent way to lower my anxiety, and I learn to laugh often!
Finally taking my emotional pulse helps me listen to my body, respectfully, and not try to study when I'm feverish or sick, for example. I can also write in my language learning diary, for present reward and future perspective. When I use a checklist I can calm irrational fears, and if that doesn't work I can share my feelings with a trusted, positive friend.
The sky's the limit, you're cleared for takeoff!