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Teaching With Affection Teacher Student Relationship Education Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 3895 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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The affective domain and the emotional factors that influence in the learning process of a student have been of interest in the field of language teaching for a number of years. However, the focus of this research is how teaching with affection by part of teachers can produce a positive impact in the student´s learning process. Several pieces of research have demonstrated that teaching with affection has a positive impact on the student´s learning process. In fact the affective relationship between the child and the teacher has an immense impact for encouraging the children´s social adaptation and intellectual success at school. These ideas are not new because a number of investigators have stated teaching with affection encourages a positive development in the students through high levels of warmth and communication.

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The goal of this research paper is describing how a methodology based on teaching with affection can have a positive impact in the student´s learning process in a second language. With the intention of do this, the research is going to define what affection and teaching with affection is, and is going to differentiate it from other methodologies. People who believed in this new methodology as part of the teaching process are precursors of a pedagogy based on love; therefore, they need to be named as they discoveries and main conclusions. Internal as external factors are presented in learners and it is essential have knowledge of them in order to avoid the negatives and increase the positives. Thus, the teacher-student relationship can be understood in a better way as well as the several advantages as for students as teachers within the school and family context. The use of love and affection through activities that are concerned in the affective side of learners instead the cognitive; and the person instead of the topic are fundamental for the student’s learning process in a second language.

Teaching is not an easy work; it demands time, patience, effort, and knowledge. But, even though some teachers have all these components they do not obtain good results with their students. It was this issue that caught my attention and interested me for investigating in a detailed way. It was in this way that searching information added to my previous knowledge I found the affection given by teachers is crucial in the student´s learning process.

The affective relationship between someone who is in charge of another has a positive impact in his/her social and personal development. In this case the relationship would be between the teacher in charge of the class and the student; therefore, such relationship would be like a parent and a child. This connection is quite similar to the case of a mother and her newborn baby. If the baby receives enough love and affection he will grow up healthier, he will be able to adapt to different contexts in a better way, and he will have a good physical, social, personal, and cognitive development in his life. In contrast, if this baby does not receive affection he will not have the basis for a good development which will trigger many disadvantages for his life, for that reason Ainsworth, Bowlby, Cassidy, Weinfield, Sroufe, Egeland (1969/1999) quoted by Maldonado (2006), stated:

The affective relationship model established between the child and the guardian in a family context will become the basis of his or her socialization process and the way he or she adapts in other contexts (for example, school) (p.2)

Through this example it is possible to link the affective relationship between a teacher and a student because the affection given by a teacher can make big changes in the life of a child as in the academic success as in his/her entire life. Nevertheless most of the times are mentioned concepts like affective relationship, teaching with affection, affective interaction, but what affect means. The term affect has to do with aspects of our emotional being (Arnold, 1999) and in our currant days it can be considered as aspects of emotion, feeling, attitude, and mood. Thus, the function in which the affective domain is part in the learning process is fundamental for creating a holistic way to teach. Cognition used to be the most important point for learning; but today the combination of cognition and affection has increased the possibility of an integrative approach that is not only concerned about mind, but heart too. Ernest Hilgard (1963) recognized learning and cognition specialist states the need for an integrative approach: “purely cognitive theories of learning will be rejected unless a role is assigned to affectivity”. As a consequence today we can see the cognition and the affection as an integrative system, where the combination of both can improve the student´s behavior from a comprehensive understanding of the person. Also it creates a better method for learning a second language where the interaction between the teacher and the student is the essential.

Interest in affective factors, and teaching through affection is not something new. Several researchers and writers have investigated about these topics with the intention of improving the way how teachers teach. Within the most recognized researchers it is possible to name the contributions of Pestalozzi, Lozanov, Montessori, Sutherland Neil, Moskowitz and many others. Although some of them did not specifically mention the affection as a way to teach in their writings they implicitly did. One of the precursors of this conceptualization was Johan Pestalozzi who believed children needed an emotionally secure environment and the classroom in turn should be like a family; therefore the schoolroom must possess the atmosphere of a loving family. Another researcher involved in the educational issues and it had a similar overview was Alexander Sutherland Neil who stated that children must be happy and free; they must receive care and love for achieving self-determination and critical thinking. Moskowitz´s ideas of applying humanistic activities with the students with the intention of learning a second language were another innovative system for teaching in the twentieth century. Through the use of humanistic activities she stated it is possible breaking the ice and getting the students talking about themselves. Such activities are fundamental for students who are learning a second language due to they feel motivated for communicating something that truly matters to them. Those thoughts were revolutionaries, but at the same time they were not well seen by everybody. In spite of this, those ideas for improving education through the affective and social development of the students had come to new generations of teachers.

The language acquisition is very influenced by some internal factors of learners which can foster or avoid the process. Krashen (1981) established a theory of second language acquisition composed by five main hypotheses. The fifth hypothesis is related to the affective filter presented when we acquire a second language. He stated students with motivation, self-esteem, and low levels of anxiety are much more likely to be successful in their process of acquiring a second language. On the contrary, if students have low level of motivation and self-esteem and high level of anxiety will not be able to progress naturally in their second language process. Krashen´s hypothesis reaffirms that there are some factors that enable or complicate the possibility learners acquire the language. One of the most commonly and influential factor is motivation; which can be intrinsic and extrinsic that will depend on where comes from. Intrinsic motivation that comes from the learner is crucial for the development of a second language because if you do not feel motivated for doing something you are not going to do that. The extrinsic motivation that comes from external factors appears as a result the desire of getting a reward or avoiding a punishment. Even though both types of motivation are essential for engaging the students in the development of a second language, and both are complementary it seems the intrinsic motivation is more meaningful for learners. Chomsky (1998) quoted by Arnold (1999) conveyed this issue through this way “The truth of the matter is that about 99 percent of teaching is getting students interested in the material” (p. 30). This dichotomy between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can complement to each other because if there is interest for getting a good mark or winning something; maybe the student is going to be interested in learning more because he/she realizes is good doing that. Thus, from an external motivation an internal motivation arises.

Another factor that negatively affects the learning process of a student in a second language is the anxiety. The anxiety is one of the affective factors that hinder and damage the relationship between the learner and the process of learning a second language. This factor is related to pessimistic feelings such as frustration, insecurity, fear, and tension which become dulled the teaching-learning process. It is not really clear why this negative factor appears, but in the learning of foreign languages and second languages the anxiety is one of the factors that provoke more problems with the students. Some researchers believe anxiety emerges after a person has been ridiculed by saying something wrong, for instance. Another possibility is the anxiety comes from the childhood of a student; therefore, in that case the learner has a rejection for something that took place in the past. In order to reduce the anxiety teachers can make big efforts for decreasing the high levels of anxiety through love and affection. The teacher-student relationship is fundamental in this aspect because they can create environments that make students feel comfortable in the class. Teachers can promote the self-esteem and confidence of the students with high levels of anxiety and providing them opportunities for participating in the class. Moreover, teachers must reduce the competition within the class, they must encourage their students through the relaxation, laugh, and fun, and finally they must promote students use positive phrases and learn to believe in themselves (Arnold, 1999). If teachers follow these straightforward procedures they can make a huge change at the moment their students face the learning process of a second language.

Although, the interest for investigating the affective relationship is not totally new, in recent years researchers have been concerned in a particular type of affective relationship: the teacher-student affective relationship. Sundry of studies have agreed the transition from the family context to the school context concentrating on the elements the children learn and assimilate from their early relationship models with their basic care givers, and the transference of these elements to relationships with others (i.e. their peers) in a non-familiar context (Elicker, Englund & Sroufe, 1992; Bryant & DeMorris, 1992; Dodge, Pettit & Bates, 1994). The role of the teachers in the school in not merely grade the student´s performance, control the discipline, and to be concerned of teaching the contents. Teachers also are worried of the personal problems of the students, their needs, and give them love and care when they require it. Thus, teachers assume the substitute role of a mother, a father or a care giving figure. The positive transition from the family context to school context will depend on the social and affective interaction between the child and his/her teacher. In the first years and with the constant interaction among the child and his/her parents the child learns a variety of skills, expectations and motivations that she/he will convey to other people. These people in the future will be her/his teachers; the most close people in the school. Pianta et. al accomplished a research in which they discovered a connection in the security provided by the teacher-student bond and the mother-child bond , so if exist a good relationship between the mother and her child it will have a satisfactory attachment between the teacher and the student. The first models children have in their childhood can prevent negative factors such as inadequate behavior and problems related to the social adaptation and success at school.

Warmth and affection occur in the context of daily routines, activities and interactions at the classroom. These qualities must be reiterated by part of teachers due to the idea is students feel engaged with what they are learning. Therefore, if they see warmth and affection in some cases and in other situations they see their teacher is out of control they are not going to feel secure for having a good relationship with their teacher. If there is an emotional environment and teachers willing for working with their students and considering their affective side, not just the cognitive one it can occur enormous changes with regard to the student´s behavior and the academic development of them. According to Twardosz (2005)

Warmth and affection contribute to secure relationships between children and adults; provide models of positive, gentle behavior; are linked with children’s ability to interact positively with peers; and can help integrate withdrawn children and children with disabilities into the peer group. (p.2)

As a result teaching with affection provides several advantages for learners regarding their personal and social development and simultaneously contributes to a better relationship between the learner and her/his teacher.

At the moment to learn a second language students seem to have some fears which interfere with the development of learning the target language. Factors that were seen before like lack of motivation and anxiety may provoke a distant relationship between the students and the second language. As teachers do not want a cold attachment they must be sensitive and emotional with the process to teach a second language. A language which is not the student´s mother tongue can result difficult at the beginning, especially if learners have had to face a traumatic experience. (e.g., classmates’ jokes). Thus emerged an approach focused in group dynamics with the purpose to improve the teaching-learning process in foreign languages. Kurt Lewin (1945) who was coined the term group dynamics to describe the positive and negative forces within groups of people. After this, he was focused on how group dynamics could be applied to real world and social issues. The theory of group contributes to the understanding of what happens in the classroom and it is potentially fruitful for the language teaching profession.

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Teachers who are involved with their students and really want to promote the teaching-learning process of a second language should be focused in the group dynamics due to they encourage the student´s autonomy and motivation for learning a second language. Moreover, they improve the lack of discipline among the students. This approach is concerned mainly in what occurs between people and how that affects what goes on inside them. It is recommended teachers who are in charge of a class dedicate time to their students and the group’s processes. Besides, they should use warm up activities with the intention to break the ice at the beginning of a course with students who do not know to each other. Furthermore, it is important to promote the relationship among the students which will improve the classroom interaction. This can be accomplished by a variety of activities through pair and group work; however, it is indispensable to establish some norms and rules agreed previously by the students. Working with group dynamics have a number of advantages as students as teachers. Therefore, this approach can be successfully used for teaching foreign languages because of the security students feel at the moment to learn something new, the different contributions they can make as a group of work, and the control of the class teachers can have when they are in front of the class.

According to all the data presented it seems the Pedagogy based on love has all the elements required for the improvement on student´s learning process in a second language. Lozanov set up students must learn in an emotional and secure environment from which they will in the future develop their autonomy. This conception is based on the development of the Suggestopedia method, one of his most important works. This teaching method is a kind of liberation system where learners feel free, relax, secure and without pressure to learn the target language. It is thus the method is concerned primarily in the person, not in the content. The application of this method benefits the teaching-learning process as well as produces advantages in health and social relationships. Lozanov and Gateva (1988) “sets up a secure environment, waits until autonomous behavior begins to manifest itself, and then gently nudges the learner into doing thing alone” ( p.216). This overview tries to show us teachers firstly should provide a comfortable and secure environment because then students will be able to be autonomous. We can not expect at the beginning students work alone; hence teachers provide the basis and at that time learners build their knowledge by themselves.

The use of a methodology based on love and affection seems according to all the information declared previously has a positive impact in student´s learning process in a second language. The emotional domain takes an important role and prevails on the cognitive domain at the moment of learning; this teaching model centered in the students and in the environment has contributed in plenty at the holistic development of the learners. The recently implementation and application of humanistic activities has revealed such activities supply a variety of advantages for the students as well as the teachers. Therefore, the benefits of using this kind of tool enrich both participants; if teachers feel comfortable and pleased of working in this way they will convey this feeling to the students and the students will be willing and enthusiastic to collaborate and learn. But what humanistic activities are? Moskowitz (1978) states “humanistic activities are teaching languages techniques that can have a profound effect on the lives and personal growth of both students and teachers alike, due to the particular ingredients they contain”. Such activities promote students participate in the class and learn about the rest of their classmates in an optimistic manner. Studies have demonstrated the use of humanistic activities are valuable for teaching foreign and second languages due to they help to improve student´s behavior, mood, and they make classes more enjoyable and motivating for learners. This situation allows students feel relaxed and secure for learning another language different to their mother tongue. According to Moskowitz (1978) quoted by Arnold (1999):

Humanistic exercises deal with enhancing self-esteem, becoming aware of one´s strengths, seeing the good in others, gaining insights into oneself, developing closer and more satisfying relationships, becoming conscious of one´s feelings and values and having a positive outlook on life. (p.178)

That is activities concerned in the student’s growth and in their meaningful learning help them increase their self-esteem and in that way students improve their academic and social development. As a result of this practicum they will get better marks and they will appreciate more their classmates, teachers, and the environment that surround them. The application of activities based on affection inside the classroom it is not merely concerned in teaching that aspect, but affection is combined with the contents in the appropriate moments. This will trigger students feel better with themselves and others, and thus they will achieve their goals. The relationship between the use of humanistic activities and the process of learning a second language can turn very attractive if teachers learn how to manage it. Instead of providing contents that are not meaningful and relevant for the students teachers can try learners talk about themselves (e.g, their experiences, thoughts, dreams, feelings, values, ambitions, etc.). Consequently they will have a positive image of learning a second language which entails learn about themselves and the rest of their classmates using the target language. Students will feel safe because they just will talk about them. Some activities that Moskowitz proposes are the following: working in groups and they tell to others what things they think would make happy to the other classmates, also it possible students in groups write in a piece of paper two qualities that they values of each of their classmates, then they have to read them aloud.

Simple and easy activities can make a huge change in the student’s life and in the students’ learning process especially when they learn a second language. Mozkowitz’ studies corroborate the use of humanistic activities in second language classes contribute helpfully to learners’ behavior and the attachment with the target language. Teaching with affection is a discipline that combines teaching what learners academically need to know, but at the same time it provides them tools that will be presented the rest of their life.

A Pedagogy based on love and affection has several advantages for the students as it has been reflected in this research; teaching with affection help to improve student’s behavior, mood and social interaction; it creates a peacefully and enjoyable environment in which teacher and students feel comfortable for the development of learning a second language. However, the main purpose teachers have for making use of this approach is students can increase their self-esteem and motivation and they will be able to know more about people who is close to them in the classroom context like their classmates and teachers. The positive impact of working with the emotional domain is crucial in the first ages of children due to in that period they have the transition from their family context to the school context. Therefore, the teacher in charge of the class and the person responsible of the students has a crucial role because he/she must provide affection to his/her students for making them feel safe and relaxed in the classroom. Although, this topic is relevant and meaningful for educators has not been investigated in depth and there is still a lack of resources regarding the area.

For future investigations with regard to the teacher-student relationship and the use of love and affection as way to teach I would suggest going into detail of how can teachers become emotional with their students without a previous preparation in their education as teachers. Also, how can a teacher teaching with affection and not be seen as a weak educator is a topic very relevant nowadays.


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