Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Motivational Goal Orientations and Language Learning Anxiety Based on Maehr's Personal Investment Model

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Motivational Goal Orientations and Language Learning Anxiety Based on Maehr's Personal Investment Model

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

Second language (L2) refers to a language an individual learns that is not his/her mother tongue, but is of use in the area of the individual. It is not the same as a foreign language, which is a language learned that is not generally spoken in the individual's area. In research on motivation, it is considered to be an internal process that gives behavior energy, direction and persistence in research (in other words, it gives behavior strength, purpose, and sustainability) (Reeve, 2013). Learning a new language takes time and dedication. Once you do, being fluent in a second language offers numerous benefits and opportunities. Learning a second language is exciting and beneficial at all ages. It offers practical, intellectual and many aspirational benefits. In learning a language, there can be one or more goals - such as mastery of the language or communicative competence - that vary person to person. There are a number of language learner motivation models that were developed and postulated in fields such as linguistics and sociolinguistics, with relations to second-language acquisition in a classroom setting. The different perspectives on L2 motivation can be divided into three distinct phases: the social psychological period, the cognitive-situated period and the process-oriented period (Dörnyei, 2005).

Since foreign language learning is a stressful activity (Hewitt & Stefenson, 2011), many researchers have investigated the role of anxiety in learning a foreign language (e.g., Phillips, 1992). Foreign language anxiety has been defined as negative emotional reaction that is caused when using or learning a foreign or a second language (MacIntyre, 1999). Several studies have been carried out on language anxiety. Although few of them have revealed that there is a positive relationship between language anxiety and language achievement (e.g., Liu, 2006; Oxford, 1999), most of them have shown that language anxiety and language achievement are negatively related (e.g. Horwitz, 2001, MacIntyre, 1999, MacIntyre, Noels, Clement, 1997). Put it another way, learners who are more proficient in a foreign language, experience less anxiety in learning it in comparison with other learners who are not that proficient. Foreign language learning anxiety is a great barrier to foreign language achievement (Young, 1991), so the low achievement of learners can be attributed to negative effects of anxiety (Horwitz, 2000, 2001; MacIntyre, 1999, 2002; Tóth, 2007).

Considering the pivotal role of motivational goals in learning foreign languages and their relationships with effective behavioral and affective variables in learning English, this study investigates the relationship between achievement goal orientations and foreign language learning anxiety in an Iranian EFL setting.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Anxiety in Second Language Acquisition

In second language research, anxiety is considered as an affective variable (Dörnyei, 2005; Horwitz et al, 1986). Anxiety is composed of some parts which have different features (Dörnyei , 2005). According to Dörnyei (2005), there are different categorizations for anxiety. Two of the most popular classifications of anxiety are debilitating-facilitating (Scovel, 1978) and state-trait (Speilberger, 1983) views of anxiety. In the former dichotomy, the facilitating or beneficial anxiety does not hinder performance but it can facilitate it whereas debilitating anxiety can deter performance when an individual is under excessive worry. In the latter classification, trait anxiety is rather stable with the passage of time, whereas state anxiety is a transitory and changing feeling (Dörnyei, 2005).

Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) identified three types of foreign language anxiety: test anxiety, communication apprehension, and fear of negative evaluation. In order to measure foreign language classroom anxiety, they developed a 33-item questionnaire. Several studies have been done on language anxiety most of which have shown a negative relationship between language learning anxiety and language achievement (e. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.