Academic journal article Researchers World

English Language Anxiety and Reading Comprehension Performance of College Students in a State University

Academic journal article Researchers World

English Language Anxiety and Reading Comprehension Performance of College Students in a State University

Article excerpt


This study was conducted to investigate the relationship between language and reading anxiety and reading comprehension performance of AB English students. The issue of whether students' LA and RA vary with gender was also explored. The results from two measures of anxiety, and two reading comprehension tests completed by 65 AB English students showed that RA and LA was related to Reading Performance. Although reading comprehension performance did not differ significantly with the students in different levels of LA and RA, a general trend of lower LA and RA going with higher performance was identified. In contrast to other studies, no difference was found in LA and RA based on gender. Students' LA decreased with their learning in reading classes while RA showed no differences. These results suggest that students with LA tend to have RA.

Decreasing students' anxiety and creating a low-anxiety classroom environment might help improve students' reading comprehension performance. Since RA seems to be a more stable construct as compared to LA, coping with RA may require more time.

Keywords: Language anxiety, reading anxiety, reading comprehension, classroom environment.


It is argued that language learning is regarded as the cornerstone of human existence. Knowing the language can help us to express our opinions, hopes, and even our dreams (Tavil, 2009). In foreign language learning context, there are various factors that influence the learning process such as motivation, attitudes, anxiety, learning achievements, aptitudes, intelligence, age, personalities, etc. (Gardner, 1960; Lehmann, 2006, cited in Shams, 2008).

Anxiety is a basic human emotion that consists of fear and uncertainty. According to Deutsch (2005) there are many variables that cause difficulties in ESL/EFL learning to read. He observed that junior and high school students experience problems while talking comprehension tests." In a foreign language causes anxiety and poor language achievements in conjunction of students' levels of reading anxiety and general foreign language anxiety." Unfamiliar scripts, writing system and unfamiliar cultural material are some factors that cause an emotional block to reading in students when they take a reading comprehension tests. There are many irrational beliefs also that cause anxiety among foreign and second language students. Foreign language anxiety only increases student's problem with decoding the text and actual processing of textual meaning. It is difficult to get the students to take an interest in reading inside or outside the EFL classroom. There are several reasons for this all stem from one general problem "deep-rooted fear of reading in English." Students have high level of interest in authentic texts in English but they often lack confidence in attempting to explore and enjoy reading articles and stories in English.

Learning an additional language is both cognitively and emotionally demanding (Abu-Rabia, 2004). Anxiety a complicated phenomenon is a kind of emotion so the issue of anxiety and second language (L2) learning has concern language educators and researchers for many years. A substantial amount of researchers has been conducted in this area and suggests that anxiety is an important factor in second language acquisition (Na.2007.Wei 200). However, most of the research centers discussions on listening, speaking, and writing. Little attention has been paid to reading. Therefore, the present study attempted to fill the gap and explore the role of the anxiety in L2 reading.


Language anxiety is a type of anxiety, specifically with second and foreign language learning contacts(Young 1991).According to Horwitz et al.(1996), the three components of language anxiety are communication apprehension,tests anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation. People with communication apprehension are shy about communicating with others and have difficulty in speaking in public and sometimes ask to speak in dyads, in group, or in public. …

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