Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Listening Anxiety and Its Relationship with Listening Strategy Use and Listening Comprehension among Iranian IELTS Learners

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

Listening Anxiety and Its Relationship with Listening Strategy Use and Listening Comprehension among Iranian IELTS Learners

Article excerpt


This study aimed at investigating listening anxiety and its relationship with listening strategy use and listening comprehension among Iranian IELTS learners. Sixty-three IELTS learners from two language institutes in Shiraz were selected for this study. To collect the data, four instruments were used: a Background Questionnaire developed by Lee (1997), a Listening Anxiety Questionnaire developed by Kim (2000), Lee's (1997) Listening Comprehension Strategy Questionnaire and an IELTS listening test. The results revealed that listening anxiety had negative correlation with listening comprehension and listening strategy use. Moreover, the findings showed that low anxious learners used metacognitive strategies more than did high anxious learners. In relation to cognitive and social/affective strategies, the two groups did not differ significantly. Low anxious learners also performed better in the listening comprehension test. Regarding learner characteristics, it was revealed that female learners were more anxious than male learners. Years of studying English also had a significant negative effect on IELTS learners' anxiety.

Keywords: listening anxiety, listening strategy use, listening comprehension, IELTS learner

1. Introduction

For some time, educators have recognized the existence of foreign language anxiety and its potential for significant interference with language learning and production. In 1986, Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope defined FL anxiety as "a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors related to classroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process" (p. 128).

In fact, it is widely accepted that anxiety plays a crucial role while learning a foreign language. The impact of such an emotional arousal in language learning has long been considered in language classroom. Much of the past studies have been conducted on the aspect of anxiety associated with oral production in L2; however, recently interest has been extended to cover all language skills (Kimura, 2008). One of these skills is listening.

During listening process, different factors may cause uneasiness and tension for language learners and result in poor listening. Young (1992) stated that poor listening ability results from many factors, such as insufficient emphasis on listening, immature teaching methodologies, ineffective listening strategies, and students' lack of vocabulary, but the increasingly important one is anxiety. It plays a very important role because the anticipation of foreign language use in receiving information can provoke anxiety.

According to Scarcella and Oxford (1992), listening anxiety occurs when students face a task they feel is too difficult or unfamiliar. Young (1992) also stated that listening comprehension is highly anxiety-provoking if the discourse is incomprehensible. Learners may feel anxious while listening in the target language due to some difficulties associated with FL listening. Generally, as defined by Oxford (1993) listening is a complex, problem-solving skill and it is more than just perception of the sounds. Listening includes comprehension of meaning-bearing words, phrases, clauses, sentences and connected discourse. It is usually a hard skill to master in one's own language, let alone in another language.

Besides, such difficulties may be increased during international exams. In relation to listening section of IELTS, Rasti (2009) stated that most IELTS candidates find listening as one of the most difficult sections of IELTS due to the fact that it is both fast and confusing. Moreover, perhaps the biggest problem that candidates have with the IELTS academic listening test is that the listening recording is only played once. Therefore, they fear from losing some parts while listening.

In this respect, because listening is a challenging skill for foreign language learners in general and causes difficulty, developing effective listening strategies may help to overcome many problems related to target language listening. …

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