Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Investigating the Relationship between Language Learners' Classroom Anxiety and Their Self-Esteem, Gender, Age and Educational Level

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Investigating the Relationship between Language Learners' Classroom Anxiety and Their Self-Esteem, Gender, Age and Educational Level

Article excerpt



Foreign language learning is often associated with a specific type of anxiety called foreign language learning anxiety. In fact, since foreign language learning almost always occurs in the classroom context, this kind of anxiety is specifically known as foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCAS). In the social context of the classroom, learners have constant interaction with each other and with their teachers, and they are regularly being evaluated by their teachers and peers. This constant evaluative situation makes them susceptible to the feeling of discomfort and anxiety. Foreign language teachers have repeatedly reported that EFL learners who are competent in other situations experience an anxiety reaction which impedes their desirable performance in a foreignlanguage class (Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope,1986). Oxford (1999) also states that this anxiety is directly linked to performing in the target language rather than being a general type of anxiety. In fact, foreign language class can be much more anxiety-provoking compare to language learners' other courses (Liu, 2007; Ohata, 2005). Thus, language learning setting is likely to be prone to anxiety arousal (Price, 1991).

Krashen (1982, 1985) viewes anxiety as debilitative since it leads to affective filter which prevents language learners from fully processing language input. Consequently, language learners are not able to improve their language learning. Many scholars regard foreign language anxiety as one of the influential factors of the affective domain (Balemir, 2000, cited in Öztürk &Gürbüz, 2013). MacIntyre & Gardner, (1994, p. 283) define foreign language anxiety as "the feeling of tension and apprehension specifically associated with second language contexts, including speaking, listening, and learning". Horwitz et al.(1986) assert that foreign language anxiety cannot be simply viewed as a combination of fears, tension, and nervousness transformed to foreign language learning situation, but it is perceived 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).

As such, many studies have sought to investigate language learners' level of foreign language anxiety and its relationship with language achievement and such affective variables as shyness, self-esteem, introversion, motivation etc. (Yamini &Tahriri, 2006; Chu, 2008; Farjami & Amerian, 2012).Nevertheless, it seems that they have not succeeded in arriving at conclusive results and more studiesare required in the area of foreign language anxiety and its relationship with affective variables.

1.2. Significance of the study:

Due to the fact that anxiety is one of the affective factors whichmay greatly influence different aspects of foreign language learning, it is vital to investigate language learners' FLCA level as well as those learners who are anxious in FL classes(Horwitz et al., 1986). In addition,according to Campbell and Ortiz (1991), university students' foreign language anxiety must be considered "alarming" with half language learners experiencing the negative effects of learning anxiety.

In this connection, the motive behind conducting the present study was the fact that the results regarding the relationship between FLCA and gender are controversial. Moreover, the relationship between FLCA and age has been reported by few studies. Also, research investigating the impact of both self-esteem and the background variables of gender, age and educational level on EFL learners' FLCA seems to be scant.Finally, few studies have attempted to go beyond reporting the total level of FLCA and to analyze individual anxiety-provoking items related to the three underlying constructs of FLCA.

1.3. Research questions:

The present study aimed at revealing English translation students' level of foreign language classroom anxiety. …

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