Over the years, language teaching has centred largely on the development of the four basic language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing through a conscious well-prepared curriculum. A teacher is considered to be competent if he successfully downloads the content of his syllables to the students, but little or no consideration is given to the mode of delivery and the affective skills employed by the teacher to effectively deliver his subject especially in a second language teaching and learning situation. This paper, therefore, seeks to establish the importance of employing affective skills on the part of the teacher to positively influence the students to learn, taking into consideration their individual differences and attitudes to learning and the therapeutic effect and motivation it has on the learner of a second language, such as English.
A teacher’s effectiveness depends on his demonstration of the affective characteristics in the transmission of knowledge to the students. This is even more paramount in a language learning situation where the students are influenced by both positive and negative attitudes about the target language, which usually stem from stereotypes and superficial contact with the target culture. Whereas these attitudes can enhance learning if they are positive, negative attitudes can greatly impede language learning. However, the ability of the teacher to employ not only the cognitive but also affective skills during teaching instructions can effectively checkmate and redirect such students to positive learning.
What is meant by Affective Skills? According to Saint Exupery, as cited by Miller (1987, p.1), “That which is essential cannot be seen with the eye. Only with the heart can one know it rightly.’’ In other words, whereas the cognitive domain deals with the knowledge and understanding of the content of instruction, the affective skills is concerned with the ability of the teacher to connect with the individual students, identify and empathize with them personally and gradually influence them to a more positive attitude to learning. This is aptly summarized in the words of Brown (2000, p.180), “All students possess positive and negative attitudes in varying degrees and negative ones can be changed by thoughtful instruction methods (materials and activities) that help students achieve an understanding and appreciation of the foreign culture” .
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