Affective factors in Foreign Language Teaching: Enlightenment From Dead Poets Society

Yuanyuan WAN, Xiangyong JIANG


The focus of foreign language teaching has been changed from the teacher-centered model to the student-centered model. The traditional duck-feeding model of teaching cannot meet the requirements of the new era for it fails to activate students’ affect in learning. Since students’ affective factors exert a great impact on foreign language teaching, how to effectively motivate students becomes our primary focus.
This study aims to comprehensively investigate how affective factors may influence foreign language learning by taking American film Dead Poets Society as an example. Besides, it intends to provide some pedagogical implications for educators by analyzing Keating’s teaching mode in Dead Poets Society. In the film, Keating is dedicated to the cultivation of the students’ independent thinking and innovative ability over the teaching process. Through affective interaction with students, Keating finds a suitable way to achieve their self-actualization. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis, and non-intelligence theory, Keating’s teaching mode can effectively help students build up self-confidence and seek their self -actualization. As is generally recognized that affective factors like motivation, self-confidence, anxiety and inhibition play important roles in language learning. Keating’s success can have some enlightenment for foreign language teaching as well. We hold that foreign language teachers should motivate students to seek self-actualization, relieve their anxiety and build up their self-confidence, love and respect them, which can contribute to enhancing of teaching effects ultimately.


Affective factors; Foreign language teaching; Dead Poets Society

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