Monday, September 19, 2011

'Affective' or 'Effective' teaching: which shoes should we wear?

#ELTchat summary for the evening session on September 14, 2011.

The writing of this summary came as a strong response to my previous post. YES! Collaboration DOES happen in the ELT world. I am just so glad to have been given the opportunity to co-write this summary with lovely Ceri Jones!

Thanks for accepting my suggestion... I've learned a lot!

Prix. =)

#ELTChat Summary: 
'Affective' or 'Effective' teaching: which shoes should we wear?


A note on the summary:  this is a two-headed summary, a collaboration between someone who was there (@cerirhiannon), and someone couldn't be, but who followed the chat on the transcript (@teacher_prix). We wrote it together on, both synchronously and asynchronously, across a 5 hour time zone. 

Ceri's introduction 

Last Wednesday's 9pm chat was a discussion of affective and effective teaching, and the relationship between the two. We touched on a whole range of issues and questions, including whether the two can actually be separated one from the other- The chat kicked off with a definition of terms, which had initially confused some chatters, and a re-casting of the opening question and moved on to discuss first affective teaching and then the relationship between affective teaching and effective learning. Towards the end quite a few big questions were raised which we didn't really have the time or space to tackle, but which could well be put forward for other chats in the future. 

Priscilla's introduction

In a humanist classroom for teaching to be taken as 'effective' the affective variable should be taken into account. As most humanistic approaches claim the learners' feelings and reactions regarding the learning process are of crucial importance to the success (or failure) of the learning. The more we get involved with our students the closer we get to this humanistic way of teaching. What is the impact of this closer contact with our students in our teaching? How far should we get involved? Should we ever get involved?

The chat started with a definition of terms. Quite a few chatters seemed a little confused by the question: 

@sandymillin My first questions is: what exactly are 'effective' and 'affective' teaching? Not really sure I know what they are! #eltchat


A number of answers were offered as the chatters moved towards a working definition.    

@Marisa_C Effective = it works Affective= appealing to the emotions?
@perkypawn: isn't 'affective' ..   what impact we have on a students life  and "effective" simply   doing a job efficiently ? 
The emphasis moved away from effective to affective: 

@pacogascon dont think the point's highlighting ss affective   needs when teaching,jst being aware of em & predicting hw they cn affect   t process #eltchat

@hartle RT @Marisa_C: An encouraging teacher sees mistakes   as learning opportunities #ELTchat

@mscro1 RT @pacogascon: affective teaching: being aware of   ss differences, shy, naughty, bold, talkative and trying to   balance/compensate for deficiencies #eltchat

And then the chat focused back on the original question: 

@Marisa_C: 'Affective' or 'Effective teaching': which shoes should we wear? 

There was a general consensus that there really isn't a conflict here. Throughout the course of the chat, chatters reiterated that it was not a matter of choosing one or the other way of teaching, but that both should combine to achieve positive goals. 
@esolcourses RT @Marisa_C: RT @cerirhiannon:  I   don't really see a dichotomy...

@mscro1 I think we all combine effective with affective teaching

@SueAnnan surely they are both needed and not a question of either or?

@Timek: Isn't this a false opposition? If positive affect enhances learning, then it's a factor in effective teaching

@Raquel_EFL: I personally believe there isn't a dichotomy...

@Marisa_C Indeed is it possible to be an effective teacher without connecting to one's learners at the affective level as well?

@pacogascon: kind of bringing together teaching, counselling and group dynamics #eltchat

Having agreed on this basic premise, it was time to redefine the question. Sandy Millin was the first to take the chat in a new direction: 


@sandymillin How would you define a learner's affective needs? 

A question which received the following responses: 

@cerirhiannon  how about to feel comfortable and not threatened / daunted?

@sandymillin Need for love, praise, belonging,   positive self esteem, encouragement, security, acceptance.... I could go on

@cerirhiannon to feel confident that their contributions will be   valued and their questions listened to

@SueAnnan to feel safe in the environment and able to make mistakes #ELTchat > @Marisa_C feeling safe v important

Sandy then led the chat on to another tack, asking the chatters to think about:

@sandymillin ... how you ensure that you can creative an atmpsohere which takes care of your learners' affective needs

Various suggestions were offered: 

@sandymillin for YLs creating an atmosphere to cater   for their aff needs would involve: praising production of lang

@janebarden affective teaching for me is ALWAYS asking the question before nominating a student to answer. This stops sts feeling so nervous

@sandymillin create a positive atmosphere in class by giving all SS time to speak/listen & try not to let SS dominate

@hartle important to make each std feel their contribution is valued and wht they say is important

@naomishema maybe the Q actually refers to the Ts having to be careful not to let emotions take over, like when there's a S she doesn't like?

@mscro1 have to be careful with Ss domination I agree @sandymillin

@hartle #eltchat feedback activities that really foster discussion and exchange rather than simply display questions help too


The conversation then shifted to discuss effective teaching and learning.     
@sandymillin what can you do to help learners work together to become more effective learners? #eltchat

This last question derived a new round of definitions and discussion, with chatters listing some of the key factors in effective teaching and learning:

@Raquel_EFL What makes an effective learner and what makes an effective teacher? Just a case of Motivation?

@sandymillin An effective learner has one or more goals for their learning> @cerirhiannon realistic, achievable goals

@sandymillin Motivation key for both. Without it you get nowhere

@Marisa_C An effective learner=a good language learner - is not inhibited or shy (which means s/he feels safe in class)

@mscro1 So teachers need to be also very motivating in the class, I use a lot of demonstration to engage Ss in their work

@SueAnnan yes enthusiasm very infectious

@cerirhiannon I think patience and knowing when to take a back seat imp [for the teacher] too

@mscro1 I had one [an effective learner] during holidays, she kept asking me for more ideas to work on her glogsters- was very enthusiastic

@SueAnnan I think preparation is key [for teachers]  #ELTchat

@sandymillin First part of effective teaching is knowing what makes an effective learner ;-)

@Timek  yes, but an effective   learner can learn even with an ineffective teacher.

@SueAnnan So if they've been taught how to be effective learners, they can cope when better when they get ineffective teachers!

Once more, as in many previous chats, chatters agreed that motivation was one of the main keys to both affective and effective learning. The links and suggestions at the bottom of the page include some useful  ideas for fostering motivation in the classroom:


At the end, the chat came round in a full circle in this final exchange between Raquel (@Raquel_EFL), the proposer of the topic, and Marisa (@Marisa_C), our moderator.
@Raquel_EFL I like wearing one shoe from each pair (Affective Teaching-Learning X Effective Teaching-Learning)..

and Marisa's parting tweet closed the chat on a very positive note. 

@Marisa_C @Raquel_EFL Hope ur shoes shine bright in the affective glow of your classes :-) 

[A final apology to everyone who took part: the chat was a little bit difficult to follow at times, both on twitter and on the transcripts, please let us know if we left anything out.]


@Timek A is for Affect - Tips for YLs:
@Marisa_C Can I suggest a great book for improving Classroom Dynamics by Jill Hadfield? I love this book #ELTchat

@Marisa_C Here is a great article by Rebecca Oxford #eltchat

@Timek Lessons from Good Language Learners by C   Griffiths is a gr8book on effective Learner Strategies: #eltchat

@Marisa_C Here are pages from the original book on Good   Language Learners by Naimn  & Frolich #ELTchat

@Timek @Marisa_C yes, Rebecca Oxford has written good stuff on area of Learner Strategies also - #eltchat

@sandymillin RT @Marisa_C: RT  @Raquel_EFL #eltchat turning some of their work into displays makes them proud of ...(cont)

@Marisa_C Here is a link I found on affective teaching - receiving, responding & valuing seem to be key concepts #ELTchat

New to #ELTchat?
If you have never participated in an #ELTchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Wednesday on Twitter at 12pm GMT and 9pm GMT. Over 400 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out this video, Using Tweetdeck for Hashtag Discussions!

What do you think? Leave a comment!


  1. Thank you for summarizing, @teacher_prix and Ceri, it was a tough topic. I miss my crucial "break for dinner #eltchat" tweet, though ;D
    Seriously, good job!

  2. @Paco


    Oh my?! How could we have missed that one!!!
    Your contributions to the chat were really important!

    Thanks for stopping by!

    P. =)

  3. Prix and Ceri,

    thank you very much for you #ELTchat summary. It is of great importance, especially for new teachers like me.

    Regarding the affective teaching, I try to set a line between Ss and me. A line of respect between the Ss and their teacher. By doing that I try to see until where I can go with them. I believe that getting too much involved with them may lead to some classroom problems (Some Ss may not see me as a teacher anymore, which can lead to a teaching and learning disorder, for instance). So, this is a very tenuous line, but I don't get too much worried about it.
    Besides, I always try to insert my Ss in a pleasurable learning environment so they can feel comfortable. I see teaching effectiveness as getting Ss motivated and making (if possible) them think about their learning process.

    These are my words about the topic.

    Congrats, Prix! I really like your blog.

    Best Wishes,
    Iury Paz

  4. Thank you for sharing.
    Oxford defines the word "affective" as something related to our emotions and attitudes while "effective" related to the success in getting the intended results. Thus, I think that affective learning means learning that appeals to the learners and is related to their social and cultural background while effective learning means the success in achieving the aims of the learning process.

  5. Food for thought, most def! Ei, nunca mais eu recebi os emails convidando pra webinars e talz. Nao sei se eu me exclui sem querer pa eu lembro que uma vez cliquei em algo pelo cel e pensei: oopsy daisy LOL Se puder me inclui dnovo?


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