Please download to get full document.

View again

of 28

Foreign Language Anxiety in Higher Education: A Practical Framework for Reducing FLA

This study aimed at investigating foreign language anxiety level and the factors affecting the anxiety among Saudi English major students at Taif University and exploring the impact of gender and academic level in this regard. It also examined the
3 views28 pages
All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Documenttranscript
  European Scientific Journal March 2016 edition vol.12, No.7 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431   193 Foreign Language Anxiety in Higher Education: A Practical Framework for Reducing FLA  Hamad H. Alsowat  ,  PhD, Assistant Prof.  College of Education, Taif University, Taif, Saudi Arabia doi: 10.19044/esj.2016.v12n7p193 URL:http://dx.doi.org/10.19044/esj.2016.v12n7p193  Abstract This study aimed at investigating foreign language anxiety level and the factors affecting the anxiety among Saudi English major students at Taif University and exploring the impact of gender and academic level in this regard. It also examined the relationship between anxiety and language proficiency in the Saudi context. Two questionnaires, a modified version of FLCAS (Horwitz et al., 1986) and IFLAF, were administered to 373 English major students (205 male and 168 female). The results revealed that Saudi English major students had moderate level of anxiety. The highest provoking causes of students' anxiety were worrying about consequences of failing, forgetting things they knew and feeling uneasiness during language tests. The analyses of the variables related to foreign language anxiety revealed a significant negative correlation between language anxiety and language proficiency (grammar, speaking, writing, reading and GPA). Gender did not have a significant impact on foreign language anxiety in the current study. Finally, the academic level of students did not affect the level of anxiety indicating that all students, despite their academic level, suffer from the same level of anxiety. The study suggested an EFL practical Model to reduce the negative effects of anxiety. Suggestions and further research were presented. Keywords:  Foreign language anxiety, gender, academic levels, language proficiency, English major students, anxiety sources Introduction The growing interest in learning English language pushes Saudi Arabia to perform significant efforts in teaching English language beginning from the earliest stages of the formal education. In response to the demands of English language teaching for Saudi students, the government provides a lot of facilities; offers new curricula and prepares English language teachers, but these efforts have not fulfilled their purposes; where most of the students have poor English language proficiency. Learning a foreign language is a  European Scientific Journal March 2016 edition vol.12, No.7 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431   194 challenging (Horwitz, Tallon & Luo, 2010) since it requires much time and effort, and is not always an easy and pleasant activity even for a language enthusiast (Lam, 2009). There are many variables which affect language learning such as cultural background, learning styles, motivation, beliefs, attitudes, etc. Affective or emotional factors, which have a significant importance in learning a language, play a vital role in language learning; and they may facilitate or impede language learning. One of the most important affective factors that affects language learning is Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA). The study of anxiety in second language learning started as a result of an upsurge of research into various individual learner differences anticipated to affect language learning success (Toth, 2007:123). Most language learners experience a feeling of anxiety in the process of language learning. The number of students who report that they feel anxious while learning a second/foreign language is surprising (Riasati, 2011). Moreover, language anxiety is experienced by one third to one half of foreign language learners (Worde, 1998). Therefore, foreign language teachers should be aware of foreign language anxiety inside classrooms to facilitate learning and motivate students to overcome this obstacle. During the last five years, the relationship between anxiety and language proficiency, language skills and achievement has been examined. A large amount of research focused on exploring the anxiety level in learning English language and its relationship to some variables (e.g. Alrabai, 2014; Al-Saraj, 2014; Javid, 2014; Mahmoodzadeh, 2013). Other studies (e.g. Kamaruddin & Abdullah, 2015; Lian & Budin, 2014; Nahavandi & Jayakaran, 2013) concentrated on the relationship between anxiety and achievement and language proficiency. Regarding the foreign language anxiety in learning the language skills separately, it has been found that many studies have been conducted to explore the relationship between foreign language anxiety and language skills as follows: Reading (e. g. Cabansag, 2013; Um, Tubsree & Surasin, 2013; Ghonsooly & Loghmani, 2012); writing (e.g. Jebreil, Azizifar, Gowhary & Jamalinesari, 2015; Naghadeh et al.,2014; Rezaei & Jafari, 2014); speaking (e.g. Yahya, 2013; Chiang, 2012), and listening (e.g. Baran-Lucarz, 2013; Serraj & Noordin, 2013). These studies were conducted in different contexts, and their results showed conflict findings. In the Saudi context, few studies have been conducted to investigate the anxiety of Saudi EFL learners. AlAsmari (2015) investigated the anxiety among preparatory year students at Taif University. The participants were 76 preparatory year students with high English language proficiency and 64 with low English language proficiency. The results revealed that Saudi EFL preparatory year students suffer from medium level of FL anxiety. The findings have not exhibited any significant differences in the perceptions of  European Scientific Journal March 2016 edition vol.12, No.7 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431   195 Saudi preparatory year students regarding FL anxiety in relation to their English language proficiency. At the elementary school level, Alshahrani & Alandal (2015) investigated the level of FLA and the impact of gender differences among 146 male and 114 female 6 th  grade Saudi students. The results showed that FLA was moderate and gender difference did not play a significant impact on anxiety towards foreign language learning. Alrabai (2014) also conducted a study to investigate the levels and sources of foreign language anxiety (FLA) among 1389 Saudi (male and female) EFL learners. The participants were of intermediate, high and university levels. The participating learners reported moderate to high levels of anxiety, with communication being the key cause of learners’ language anxiety. Also, Javid (2014) identified Saudi EFL learners’ anxiety and its causes of randomly-selected 216 freshmen male students enrolled in the preparatory year program at Taif University. The results reveal that Saudi preparatory year bear medium level of language learning anxiety. Among the four anxiety factors, communication apprehension anxiety remained at the top followed by English classroom anxiety. Fear of negative evaluation anxiety has been assigned the third position and test anxiety got the least average mean. Furthermore, Al-Saraj (2014) examined the anxiety level of 83 EFL female students – in a College Preparatory Program (CPP)- using the Arabic Foreign Language Anxiety Questionnaire (AFLAQ). The study revealed that participants’ average AFLAQ scores ranged from 1.80 to 4.30 out of 5.00; the mean score across participants in Level 1 was 3.33, Level 3 was 3.25 and Level 4 was 2.95. From a different aspect, Aljafen (2013) targeted the writing anxiety of 296 male students studying at the science departments at Qassim University in Saudi Arabia. The findings showed that students share almost the same moderate feeling of English writing anxiety and the weakness of their past English education was the first and overwhelming reason they gave for their writing anxiety, their lack of confidence in writing was the second, and the last one was the evaluation. Finally, Al-shalawi (2010) investigated the experience and perception of 60 Saudi male Arabic—speaking university students on English learning classroom anxiety. The results indicated that students experienced comparatively high anxiety in English learning. Statement of the problem Saudi students enter university with many English language problems. Since the academic context of university is different from public schools context, and English is used as a means of teaching at English language departments, most of students feel different kinds of foreign language anxieties. By understanding students' anxiety level and its relationship to gender, language proficiency and academic level, it is  European Scientific Journal March 2016 edition vol.12, No.7 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431   196 assumed that teachers can help their students to overcome this problem. Moreover, anxiety relationship to language proficiency will investigate the skills which students feel worry about. As mentioned above, the research conducted in the Saudi context showed that only one study –Al-shalawi (2010)- dealt with foreign language anxiety of English major students at EFL departments since those students really face different kinds of anxiety. Also, the limited number of studies conducted in Saudi Arabia did not took gender into account to explore its impact on foreign language anxiety as Yang (2012) stated that research on the relationship between gender and language anxiety has led to conflicting findings. Moreover, some researchers reported a significant anxiety-gender effect, while others reported no relationship between the two variables. Also, this research will afford a practical framework for instructors to reduce anxiety consequences. So, this research comes to bridge the gap in the existed research by investigating the foreign language anxiety level of Saudi English major students at Taif University and exploring the impact of gender and academic level on foreign language anxiety. It also tends to find out the relationship between anxiety and language proficiency in the Saudi context. It is hoped that this study provides English language instructors with the most provoking factors that affect learning a foreign language, and helps students to overcome language anxiety to become better English language learners. This study tends to answer the following questions: 1.   To what extent do Saudi EFL students perceive foreign language anxiety? 2.   What are the main factors that cause foreign language anxiety among Saudi EFL students? 3.   Is there any statistically significant relationship between students' foreign language anxiety level and their language proficiency? 4.   Are there any statistically significant differences between students' foreign language anxiety and factors affecting their anxiety related to gender? 5.   Are there any statistically significant differences between students' foreign language anxiety and factors affecting their anxiety related to the academic level? Review of Literature Definition and Types of Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) The concept of foreign language anxiety (FLA) has been well established in sociolinguistic studies since the 1980s (Sharkawi, 2009). FLA is defined as the:  European Scientific Journal March 2016 edition vol.12, No.7 ISSN: 1857 – 7881 (Print) e - ISSN 1857- 7431   197 "apprehension experienced when a situation requires the use of a second language with which the individual is not fully  proficient. It is, therefore, seen as a stable personality trait referring to the propensity for an individual to react in a nervous manner when speaking, listening, reading, or writing in the second language" (Gardner & Maclntyre, 1993:5). Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope (1986:128) looked at language anxiety from the language learning perspective; they pointed that language anxiety is "a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors related to classroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process". So, foreign language anxiety has two folds: the first one comes as the result of the situations in which the learners use the and learn the language and the second arises from the nature of the language itself. Horwitz et al. (1986) identified three different types of anxieties: communication apprehension, fear of negative evaluation and test anxiety. Firstly, communication apprehension is connected to the state in which a learner feels shy, uncomfortable and stressed while talking to others or speaking the target language (Toth, 2010; Marzec-Stawiarska, 2015 ). This kind of anxiety occurs when learners feel unable to speak, discuss, ask and answer questions in a speaking class; they fail to communicate smoothly and effectively. Secondly, fear of negative evaluation is defined as "apprehension about other's evaluations, distress over their negative evaluations, and the expectation that others would evaluate oneself negatively" (Watson & Friend, 1969:449). Moreover, fear of negative evaluation is "essentially a cognitive construct and may be particularly amenable to cognitive interventions" (Anderson & Hope, 2014:681). In an EFL context, it refers to academic evaluation as well as personal evaluations of the learners on the basis of their performance (Toth, 2010). Finally, the last component of foreign language anxiety is test apprehension or test anxiety. Test anxiety is an apprehension over academic evaluation. It is a fear of failing in tests and an unpleasant experience held consciously or unconsciously by learners. It comes from a fear of failure (Horwitz & Young, 1991). It is the fear of exams, quizzes, and other assignments used to evaluate students’ performance (Wu, 2010). Moreover, text anxiety is the feeling experienced in the context of both less and more formal examinations There are two major components of test anxiety; the cognitive component "worry", which refers to concerns about being evaluated and about the consequences of failure, and the affective component "emotionality", which refers to the perception of autonomic reactions evoked by the test situation. (Liebert & Morris,1967).
Advertisement
MostRelated
View more
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks
SAVE OUR EARTH

We need your sign to support Project to invent "SMART AND CONTROLLABLE REFLECTIVE BALLOONS" to cover the Sun and Save Our Earth.

More details...

Sign Now!

We are very appreciated for your Prompt Action!

x