Thursday, February 17, 2011

Emotional Intelligence in the EFL Curriculum

A lot of people think that success is the direct product of being intelligent enough and intelligence used to be measured through the well-known standardized test invented by Stanford Binet. The test measured the linguistic and mathematical abilities only and surmises that the individual who gets more grades on the scale is more intelligent. Classifying students in our schools to the more achievers and the less achieving students happen in the same way.

The Egyptian schools depend on the students' mathematical and linguistic abilities in the different scholar aptitude tests to make decisions on things such as admission and classification of students. In his marvelous book issued in 2007, Malcolm Gladwell tells us that what students learn at school does not qualify them to success in life because life does not depend solely on the students' linguistic and mathematical abilities. It depends also on their motivation, leardership, self-regulation, etc.
 In his marvelous book issued in 2007, Malcolm Gladwell tells us that what students learn at school does not qualify them to success in life because life does not depend solely on the students' linguistic and mathematical abilities. It depends also on their motivation, leardership, self-regulation, etc.

If ordinary intelligence qualifies students to life, one should guess that high achievers will be the richest and brightest individuals in their societies. In his longitudinal study, an early 20th century Stanford University professor of psychology, Lewis Terman (Terman 1921), used for the genius IQ boys he studied. Terman tracked their life-long achievements in work, family and finances. He was convinced their superior IQs would make them all succeed. However, things were not that simple and mathematical and linguistic intelligence did not predict success in life.

Mathematical and linguistic intelligence help students to succeed at schools, but they do need another components of intelligence to enhance their success at schools and do better in the world. This type of intelligence is described in the works of Goleman (1995). Many studies pointed at the way a soft skills curriculum can be based but this paper tries to investigate how the curriculum developer can merge activities that enhance students' learning at school and prepares them for practical life.

Over 2000 years ago, Plato’s defined learning saying that: “all learning has an emotional base” Since human psychology is a very dominant issue both for teachers and learners in reaching. Academically John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey (1990, 1993) first used the term Emotional Intelligence in their articles. Following this Daniel Goleman’s (1995) best-selling book Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ emerged into the field. Even though there have been counter arguments on this issue by Steve Flein since 1998. This paper is in favor of Goleman’s ideas, and the counter arguments will not be covered because this may be considered as a preliminary study in ELT.

Recently some issues about EQ at schools have been revealed but they are mostly concentrated on EQ lessons at schools as a discipline.

What is Emotional Intelligence?
There are several definitions of EQ made by the field experts. Since it has gained so much popularity, the definitions of EQ may sometimes lead us to a misconception, but it is clearly seen that all definitions are pertaining individuals’ emotional development and social interaction to which they have been exposed.

Daniel Goleman  who is said to be the founder of Emotional intelligence (EQ) defines it as the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating gursetve.c, and for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships. (Goleman, 1998).
J.M, Freedman, et aL (1997 & 1998) in their book Emotional Intelligence Activity Book give us a very comprehensible account of EQ such as Emotional Intelligence is a way of recognizing, understanding, and choosing how we think, feel, and act. It shapes our interaction with others and our understanding of ourselves. It defines how and what we learn; it allows us to set priorities; it determines the majority of our daily actions.
Another definition is from “Executive EQ” by Robed Cooper and Aynian Sawaf. Their interpretation of EQ is that it is the ability to sense, understand and effectively apply the power and acumen of emotions as a source of human energy, information and influence. Emotional intelligence emerges not from the musings of rarefied intellect, but from the workings of the human heart.

James Kierstead (1,999) who is a Research Directorate, Public Service Commission of Canada expresses that the concept of emotional intelligence is an umbrella term that capture a broad collection of individual skills and dispositions, usually referred to as soft skills or inter and intra-personal skills, that are outside the traditional areas of specific knowledge, general intelligence, and technical or professional skills.
John Mayer (1999) in the Psychology Today interprets EQ as it is a group of mental activities which help you recognize and understand your own feelings and others'. El leads to the ability to regulate your feelings.

Last selection of FQ definition is from Salovey and Mayer (1997) from their book Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence. "Emotional intelligence involves the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotions; the ability to access and/or generate feelings when they facilitate thought: the ability to understand emotion and emotional knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

From these definitions, it can be said that EI has two branches the first is individual and the second societal. In fact, Emotional literacy may play an important role in an ELT classroom due to many reasons such as misconception of target culture’s values. learner’s acquisition difficulty of the Target Language (TL) linguistic skills, individual motivation problem, interpersonal skills (the ability’ to understand the feelings and intentions of others) and intra-personal stills (the ability to understand one’s own feelings and motivations) by Howard Gardner (1983) personal and social skills (Goleman 1998) as well.

Is EI teachable?
Emotional intelligence can be taught. Students sometimes increase their emotional intelligence through observation and imitation. A meaningful and positive connection was found out between the students and teachers' emotional intelligence perception. It is seen that teachers' emotional intelligence management skill affects the emotional intelligence skill which students use positively and is an important explanatory variable. Accordingly, enhancing teachers' skillful use of emotional management has an effect on the improvement of students' own emotional management (Polat and Ulusoy-Oztan, 2009).
Emotional intelligence is transmitted even from the school administration to their students. Bardach (2008) established a research project which rendered valuable information and indicated that various components of a middle school principal's EI level is closely related to school success. With this information school systems and school personnel may begin to recruit and promote throughout the principal ranks those principals that demonstrate high levels of EI. Furthermore, training programs may be developed to enhance EI in public middle school principals in an effort to support higher levels of school success.

The relationship between EI and achievement:
As students increasingly opt for online classes, it becomes more important for administrators to predict levels of potential academic success. Berenson (Berenson etal, 2008) examined the intrinsic factors of emotional intelligence (EI) and personality to determine the extent to which they predict grade point average (GPA), a measure of academic success, among students attending community college. Stepwise multiple regression revealed that EI emerged as the most significant direct predictor of GPA. The addition of personality to EI significantly increased the amount of variance accounted for in GPA. This means that soft skills are pertinent to academic success and may constitute a useful profile of the successful online student that could be applied to marketing, advisement, quality assessment, and retention efforts.

Nelson and Nelson (2003) showed that the emotional skills of Time Management, Goal Achievement, and Assertive Communication were significant factors in freshmen achievement and retention. This reinforce Berenson's notion and makes it clear that EI should be essential component in the curriculum.

Deniz, M. Engin etal (2009) reported the finding of Beck et al (2000) that students who have internal control procrastinates less, supports the research findings of Jansenn and Carton (1999) that found that students who have internal locus of control complete their homework earlier (fulfill their responsibilities) than students who have external locus of control and do not procrastinate. The study of Nilson-Whitten, Morder, and Kapakla (2007) examined the relations among locus of control, optimism, and academic success of students and found significant relations between academic success, locus of control, and optimism. The results of the current study are also similar to those of the previous research.

However, Tapia (1999) showed that the relationship between the construct of emotional intelligence and general intelligence is so weak, and there is also a lack of relationship with academic achievement as measured by the PSAT. A significant correlation was found with GPA. Females scored significantly higher on the EQI than males. Sutarso (1996) also stressed that there is an overall significant multivariate effect of gender on three factors of EQ. Female students she experimented with had higher scores on the compassion and self-awareness factors than male counterparts.

The relationship between EI and the real world:
 Empirical research has produced evidence suggesting that the ability to assess, regulate, and utilize emotions (i.e., emotional intelligence) is important to the performance of workers. Yet, few curricula adequately address the emotional and interpersonal skills that prospective employers most want in their employees and that employees find most useful in their work. Jaeger (2002) examined the role emotions play in the academic performance of graduate students. He showed that emotional capacities could be enhanced in the traditional classroom. Furthermore, findings reveal a strong relationship between emotional intelligence and academic performance.

Deniz, M. Engin etal (2009) reported that according to the study carried out by Brackett, Mayer, and Warner (2004), intrapersonal and academic successes are related with each other considerably. Interpersonal; empathy, consists of relationships between individuals and social responsibilities. Significant negative relationships have been found between locus of control and intrapersonal abilities, interpersonal abilities, adaptability, coping with stress, and general mood among university students.

EI and EFL:
Ghosn (1999) used literature to increase the children EI. He reported that children develop emotional intelligence during the early years of life, and according to some experts, emotional intelligence is a more reliable predictor of academic achievement than is IQ. However, today's children appear to be low on emotional well-being. He thinks that Literature has the potential of fostering emotional intelligence by providing vicarious emotional experiences that will shape the brain circuits for empathy and help the child gain insight into human behavior. He also presented some successful literature-based strategies to help teachers develop students' personal and emotional intelligence while also developing language skills, and demonstrate how these strategies can be adapted to different grade and proficiency levels.

Emotional intelligence in the ELT Curriculum
Daniel Gioleman (1998) presented two competencies: the first is personal and the second is social. These competences cover mostly social life and life at work but here they will be considered in terms of ELT success by teachers and learners in an emotionally safe class.  There are of course some other components that are related to success in ELT in non-native environment. These subsequent components may include paralinguistic aspects such as over training, teacher linguistic considerations of ELT, learner variables, learners' FLL (Foreign Language Learning) aptitude, attitude towards TL, teaching variables and the like.
Goleman's EQ constructs are as follows:

1. Personal Competence Issues
Emotional Awareness: recognizing one's emotions and their effects.
Accurate Self-Assessment - knowing ones strengths and limits.
Self-confidence - sureness about one’s self worth and capabilities

Self-control - managing disruptive emotions and impulses
Trustworthiness - maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
Conscientiousness - taking responsibility for personal performance
Adaptability - flexibility in handling change
Innovativeness - being comfortable with and open to novel ideas and new information.

Achievement Drive - striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence
Commitment - aligning with the goals of the group or organization
Initiative - readiness to act on opportunities
Optimism - persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks

2. Social Competence Issues
Empathy - sensing others feelings and perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns.
(Service orientation. Developing others, Leveraging diversity and Political awareness which are also subtitles of social awareness are intentionally excluded from this study as they are thought to be more applicable to business organizations)

- Influence - wielding effective tactics for persuasion
- Communication - sending clear and convincing messages
- Conflict management - negotiating and resolving disagreements
- Leadership - inspiring and guiding groups and people
- Change Catalyst - initiating or managing change
- Building Bonds - nurturing instrumental relationships
- Collaboration and Cooperation - working with others toward shared goals
- Team Capabilities a creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals

In the implementation of EQ principles into ELT curriculum, it is said that teachers are the predominant factor in pursuing the success but, we can never exclude students, textbooks, institutional policy, learning environment and teacher training as well. As mentioned earlier, teachers are there to meet student’s needs rather than their own. The objectives above may also be implemented for students, and their efforts in learning and acquisition of TL can be regarded as significant as that those of teachers’.

As for how textbook writers and curriculum designers could be helpful in the implementation of EQ skills in ELT, it is very obvious that they should achieve their own share in ELT as well. In fact, the textbook writers might be quite helpful for us by reviewing their objectives of writing ELT textbooks through considering EQ skills and their impact on the learners’ acquisition of TL, First of all, they might consider the non- native learners’ cultural understanding of the TL in designing the textbooks and design the textbooks in accordance with those cultural inputs and students’ expectations from TL.
The curriculum designers are another dominant factor in the implementation of the TL objectives in a non-native ELT environment. The objectives in the curriculum should be mainly focused on learners’ acquisition of the TL rather than its cultural background and all learners may be considered in how effectively they will be able to use their own potential and aptitude in TL acquisition.

One can never disregard the learners’ consideration of the TL culture and their EQ skills to be developed in and out of a non-native teaching atmosphere. So in this case merely the non-native teachers cannot be held responsible for their students attaining the TL skills but, all individuals involved in ELT, in some vay, may be crucially helpful for non-native students’ attainment of the TL skills in an emotionally safe ELT environment.

- Polat, Soner; Ulusoy-Oztan, Yildiz, 2009.  Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence of Primary School 4th and 5th Grade Students and their Teachers. Paper submitted at the Conference on "Promoting Social-Emotional Education: Practitioners and Researchers Exploring Evidence Based Practice" Izmir, Turkey.
- Bardach, Robert H, 2008. Leading Schools with Emotional Intelligence: A Study of the Degree of Association between Middle School Principal Emotional Intelligence and School Success. A Dissertation Presented in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Capella University.
- Berenson, Robin etal, 2008. Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor for Success in Online Learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, v9 n2 p1-17
- Nelson, Darwin B.; Nelson, Kaye W. 2003. Emotional Intelligence Skills: Significant Factors in Freshmen Achievement and Retention.
- Deniz, M. Engin etal, 2009. An Investigation of Academic Procrastination, Locus of Control, and Emotional Intelligence. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice, v9 n2 p623-632
- Jaeger, Audrey J. 2002. Job Competencies and the Curriculum: An Inquiry into Emotional Intelligence in Graduate Professional Education.
- Sutarso, Toto, 1996. Effect of Gender and GPA on Emotional Intelligence.
- Tapia, Martha. 1999.  The Relationships of the Emotional Intelligence Inventory.
- Ghosn, Irma K. 1999. motional Intelligence through Literature.