Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

The Chinese Bouyei College Students' Classroom Anxiety in Foreign Language Learning: A Survey Study

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

The Chinese Bouyei College Students' Classroom Anxiety in Foreign Language Learning: A Survey Study

Article excerpt


This survey study aims to investigate the level of the Chinese Bouyei college students' general foreign language (FL) classroom anxiety, the relationships between their FL classroom anxiety and the four independent variables, gender, major field of study, level of academic year, and level of college, and possible causal factors contributive to their FL classroom anxiety. A previously published written questionnaire was administered to 320 1st- and 2nd-year Bouyei college learners in three main fields of study at five colleges of two levels in south and southwest areas of Guizhou Province, China. Ten interview questions were also conducted to 25 interviewees randomly selected from these colleges. The results of the analysis show that the Chinese Bouyei college learners experienced medium level of FL classroom anxiety; there were significant differences between their FL classroom anxiety and the first three independent variables, but not the last; and twelve main causal factors were found contributive to their FL classroom anxiety, among which some are new or different from the findings of the previous studies. Discussion was made on the research findings and what the interviewees expected from the teachers, followed by implications and suggestions for FL instructors that might help enhance and facilitate students' FL learning.

Keywords: Chinese Boyei college students, Foreign language, Classroom anxiety, Causal factors

1. Introduction With the development of economical and cultural society, English has become the major compulsory FL course

that learners at all levels from primary school to college and university must learn in China. The Curriculum Requirements for the Teaching of College English (The Chinese Ministry of Education, 2007) sets forth the general level, the medium level, and the advanced level for all non-English majors at college and university. However, many of the students' proficiency varies greatly due to different aspects like individual differences, linguistic differences, cultural differences (Cook, 2001; Dörnyei, 2005), and the examination-oriented education system. This study is just an investigation of the Chinese Bouyei college learners' foreign language (FL) classroom anxiety which has proved closely associated with these differences that interfere with college learners learning in the FL context.

1.1 Background of the study

The Chinese college learners, both from the Han and other minority ethnic groups including the Bouei that is considered as a representative of the minorities in the present study, are required to learn English for the first two years from the same start point, and have chances to attend different bands of College English Test (CET-Bands 4 & 6) in order to obtain relative certificates where the test scores are recorded. For the college students majoring in English, two levels of the national Test for English Majors (TEM-Bands 4 & 8) are also provided. It is a common knowledge in China that students with higher CET or TEM scores are more advantageous in finding jobs with higher salary at the enterprises, especially, concerning foreign affairs. Aiming at achieving satisfactory results in CET or TEM, the Chinese college students are hence assigned more homework and tasks for FL learning in spare time than the learning of other courses. They have to be tested by the teachers or do all types of additional examination papers themselves every now and then.

Some scholars (e.g. Chen, 2002; Chen & Zhang, 2004; Liu, 2006b; Tan, 2009) have found FL classroom anxiety existent among about one-third or so of the Chinese college students as subjects, and that the students' course grades and interest in English, intentions to continue their study of English, and their CET-4 scores are negatively affected by FL classroom anxiety. They claim that Chinese undergraduate college students with high anxiety are more engaged in irrelevant information input, and hence lost more opportunities to receive meaningful input related to their English learning. …

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