Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

Taiwanese Graduate Students' Personal Experiences on Culturally Related Language Anxiety and Adjustment

Academic journal article Journal of Educational and Developmental Psychology

Taiwanese Graduate Students' Personal Experiences on Culturally Related Language Anxiety and Adjustment

Article excerpt


This study aims to understand Taiwanese graduate students' personal experiences with culturally-related language anxiety and adjustment in academic settings and utilizes an adapted version of FLCAS (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986), in-depth interviews, and focus groups. The results suggested that these Taiwanese graduate students' primary issues associated with culturally-related language anxiety and adjustment are listening comprehension, participation in group discussions, and Taiwanese students' mixed feelings among members of the same nationality.

Keywords: attitudes, competition, cultural adjustment, cultural components, culturally-related, group discussion, language anxiety, listening comprehension, Taiwanese students

1. Introduction

International students studying abroad face not only the challenges of the target language but also the culture of the classroom in a foreign country. Most of the international students who just arrive are worried about comprehending their professors' lecture and accomplishing the assignments. However, in order to succeed they need to adjust to the classroom culture in the foreign country. Many factors in the previous literature have been found to be associated with language anxiety in academic settings. However, few studies (e.g., Lim, 2009; Stroud & Wee, 2006) have examined cultural components and their relationships to language anxiety in these contexts. In Lim's (2009) study, Asian learners of English, especially Korean, Chinese, or Taiwanese, were found to have experienced higher language anxiety than learners from other countries. Also, the majority of the previous studies were investigated in quantitative methods, only a few in qualitative methods.

Young (1999) stated that since the 1990s, researchers have conducted plenty of research on language anxiety in foreign language or second language learning. The first book-length treatment of language anxiety by Horwitz and Young appeared in 1991. Most previous studies on language anxiety have utilized quantitative methodologies. These quantitative studies on language anxiety may not consider language learners as individuals "with something to say and the ability to say it with force and clarity" (Cohen & Norst, 1989, p. 66). Since language anxiety involves language learners' psychological reactions to the language learning situation, many questions related to learners' experiences are not easily investigated by quantitative methods. Previous qualitative research on language anxiety has provided deep insights on some aspects of language learners' personal experiences in this area (e.g., Bailey, 1983; Price, 1991). These have been very helpful for instructors and language learners in their desire to understand language anxiety as the set of mixed feelings associated with FL or SL learning.

1.1 Definition

Many definitions have been offered for language anxiety in the previous literature. MacIntyre (1995) stated that language anxiety is triggered by aspects of communicative and social contexts, so it can be defined as a social anxiety (p. 90; MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991). Similarly, in Young's (1990) study, she mentioned that social anxiety might be related to language anxiety. Young (1990) suggested that her subjects' "reactions to error correction" (p. 550) show that social anxiety may be another component in language anxiety (p. 550). Students' fear of being judged or negatively evaluated by their classmates in class produces social anxiety (Young, 1990). Young (1990) reported that "communication apprehension, social anxiety, and low self-esteem are vital components of language anxiety" (p. 550). Pappamihiel (2002) described language anxiety as social anxiety dependent on the learner's interactions with the target language speakers.

Leary (1982) stated that social anxiety may be referred to as embarrassment, shyness, stage fright, fear of evaluation, or communication apprehension. …

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