(Previous post in this series: The Input Hypothesis)

The next post in this series (#7/9), The Compelling Input Hypothesis, is found here.

Teach like a MANIAC

A: The Affective Filter Hypothesis

“Learning is filtered through the emotions.”

Psychological safety is one of the most important factors in a successful team. The classroom is no different. Your classroom needs to be a safe space where students are free to take chances. The class must be free of insults, put-downs, judgmental statements and crude language. Even snide remarks, rolling eyes, smirks, mockery, and lack of inclusion can have a negative impact on students’ ability to learn. Establishing behavioral norms and expectations in the classroom and then rigorously enforcing them on a regular basis is crucial if students are to learn at high levels.

“When the input does not contain i+1 … and when the students’ affective filter is high, comprehensible input is not good enough.” (Krashen, 1982)



• Model open and accepting behavior yourself. To counteract a negative culture you will have to clearly model positive comportment and then explain what you are doing. Show students with you body language what acceptance and care look like.

• Have clear behavioral expectations. Set clear and high expectations for student behavior.

• Practice and use procedures. Reinforce your expectations with well thought out classroom procedures.

• Enforce the class norms. Consistently enforce the classroom norms of courtesy and respectful behavior.

• Show and tell them what you expect. Expect students to “play the game.” Use an interpersonal self-assessment to define what you mean.

• Control of your own behavior. You set the tone for the class by controlling your thoughts and actions. It’s not exactly as simple as “think good thoughts” … but almost. Students can pick up on the unconscious and unintended body language messages you are sending out when you judge them. Banish disappointment and disapproval from your mind because students will smell it on you and react negatively. There are techniques for this that I have seen work wonderfully.

The next post in this series (#7/9), The Compelling Input Hypothesis, is found here.


NOTE: This is a series on Stephen Krashen’s main hypotheses of language acquisition presented with simple, non-academic language. I have taught these ideas in this same way to my high school students for years. We even have quizzes on each of the hypotheses. It helps students to know something about linguistics so that they understand WHY certain methods are being used in class—that the teacher is not just making up activities and that what is being done in the classroom has a basis in theory, research, and successful practice. I also want to prepare them to be able to identify best practices in language courses they may take later.
We use the acronym MANIAC to remember the hypotheses because a teacher needs to focus like a maniac in order not to be swayed by inertia in education and tradition in schools. And don’t worry about the “maniac” moniker, you’ll get maniacal energy from engaged and acquiring students once you learn how to put these hypotheses into action.