Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Qualitative Research on Foreign Language Teaching Anxiety

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

A Qualitative Research on Foreign Language Teaching Anxiety

Article excerpt

Research results show that foreign language anxiety constitutes a considerable problem in the foreign language learning process among learners. Thus, many studies focused on identification of anxiety, its causes and effects on learning process and the ways to allay anxiety (Aydin, 2008a). However, while research on foreign language anxiety among learners has considerably increased in the last decade, FLTA has remained a research area that has not attracted much attention. In other words, as Tum (2012) emphasizes, when compared to the number of studies on learning anxiety, research on FLTA remains too limited to draw conclusions on the issue. Furthermore, it can be pointed out that many studies appeared on the validity and reliability of foreign language anxiety scales, while no study focused on developing a tool to measure FLTA.

FLTA was first discussed by Horwitz (1996) in terms of non-native teachers and student teachers' experiences. Horwitz (1996) points out that non-native teachers experience feelings of uneasiness and inadequacy in the target language, and that this anxiety has negative effects on language teaching. In other words, for Horwitz (1996), repeated and frequent feelings of inadequacy during their teaching experience can develop foreign language teaching anxiety. She maintains that that anxiety adversely affects their self-confidence, their use of target language and instructional choices. The crucial point is that Horwitz (1996) claims that teachers experience anxiety, as they are still language learners. However, it should be underlined that teaching and learning are different from each other contextually; thus, foreign language anxiety in the learning context may differ from anxiety in the teaching context. To be brief, as Merc (2011) emphasizes, FLTA is not clearly defined in the current literature; more importantly, foreign language anxiety has been mainly researched and discussed in a foreign language learning context, while the number of studies on FLTA has been fairly limited. Before presenting a review of the studies on FLTA, it is necessary to define anxiety and its types.

Anxiety is defined as an emotional and affective state in which a person feels powerless and experiences tension (Blue, 1955) and classified into three types as trait, state and situation-specific anxiety. Trait anxiety is an aspect of personality (Scovel, 1978), whereas state anxiety is experienced at a particular moment as a reaction to a definite situation (Spielberger, 1983). Last, situation-specific anxiety is related to specific situations and events (Horwitz et al., 1986). Foreign language anxiety is an apprehension experienced among foreign language learners who are not fully proficient during a specific situation which requires the use of foreign language (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993), and is classified into three varieties. First, communication apprehension is experienced when learners lack mature communication skills while they have mature thoughts and ideas (Aydin, 2008b), whereas test anxiety is the fear of failing in tests (Horwitz & Young, 1991). Finally, fear of negative evaluation is an apprehension which is based on incapability of making a proper social impression (Aydin, 2008b). As a final point, it should be strongly stated that the definitions given above are in the scope of foreign language learning anxiety, and that FLTA has not been defined in the current literature.

Literature Review

Studies mainly focused on the sources of FLTA and found several factors. In an earlier study, after analyzing the diary entries on the problems experienced by non-native teachers of English, Numrich (1996) concluded that teachers felt anxious due to the feeling of insufficiency in grammar teaching, time management and giving instructions for activities. In another study, Kim and Kim (2004) found that anxiety provoking situations consisted of the use of target language, unexpected questions, a low level of motivation and interest among learners, classroom management, a high level of learners' proficiency, mentor observations, listening activities and teaching cultural content. …

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