A Comparative Analysis of Preparatory Year Students' FL Anxiety

By Asmari, AbdulRahman Al | International Journal of English Linguistics, August 2015 | Go to article overview

A Comparative Analysis of Preparatory Year Students' FL Anxiety


Asmari, AbdulRahman Al, International Journal of English Linguistics


Abstract

This study investigated preparatory year students from a Saudi University to identify anxiety they experience during their English language classes. The participants were 76 preparatory year students with high English language proficiency and 64 with low English language proficiency. A translated version of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) developed by Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) was administered to generate data for this survey. Descriptive analyses and Independent-samples t-test were run to identify the participants' perceptions related to four categories of Foreign Language (FL) anxiety as well as to see whether any significant differences exist due to their English language proficiency. The results of this study have revealed that Saudi EFL preparatory year students suffer from medium level of FL anxiety. Among four types of FL anxiety, the participants have reported that they suffer the most from communication anxiety followed by negative evaluation anxiety, anxiety of English classroom and test anxiety respectively. The present findings haven not exhibited any significant differences in the perceptions of Saudi preparatory year students regarding FL anxiety in relation to their English language proficiency. It is recommended that EFL teachers try their level best to decrease anxiety level by making their classroom proceedings interesting and stress free. This seems advisable for EFL teachers to enhance the possibilities of their students' participation in class activities by letting them know in advanced so that they are able to prepare those topics well. Generally speaking, it transpires that though Saudi preparatory year students bear moderate level of FL anxiety that can easily be addressed by exploiting appropriate teaching techniques to help them overcome their anxiety and perform better in their language classes.

Keywords: FL anxiety; Preparatory year students; English language proficiency

1. Introduction

There is no denying of the fact that English has acquired an important role in the modern world, and oil-rich Saudi Arabia has also witnessed an unprecedented expansion in English Language Teaching (ELT). Saudi Arabia has been investing heavily to ensure state-of-the-art English language teaching facilities in Saudi universities. Establishment of Preparatory year deanships in nearly all public universities was a substantial step verifying this national determination. A growing mass of research has highlighted the challenges surrounding ELT, and it has been found that along with other factors, learner-centered issues such as their individual personalities, gender, motivation, attitudes, age, anxiety, intelligence etc. also play an important role in this regard (Trang, 2012). Gardner and MacIntyre (1992 cited in Javid, 2014) have classified language learners' differences into three categories including: "1) Cognitive factors including language learning strategies, language learning experiences, language learning aptitude, intelligence etc., 2) affective factors such as learning styles, motivational constructs, attitudes and beliefs toward language, language anxiety etc. and 3) other miscellaneous factors including the age and sociocultural experiences of the learners" (p. 180).

Previous research has offered valuable insights into the fact that FL anxiety among EFL learners has been singled out as a major factor that impede the process of language learning and significantly hinders English language proficiency (Liu & Huang, 2011; Olivares-Cuhat, 2010; Krashen, 1987). The investigation of FL anxiety becomes rather significant if various psychological theories related to foreign/second language learning are considered. Research has also reported that during the last thirty years, FL anxiety has seriously been taken into account by the majority of known models of foreign/second language learning theories. This is particularly valid by those who realized the importance of affective variables in the learning process including Krashen's Monitor Model and his Affective Filter Hypothesis (Krashen, 1987), Intergroup Model (Giles & Byrne, 1982), Social Context Model (Clément & Kruidenier, 1985), Acculturation Model (Schumann, 1986) and Gardner's Socio- Educational Model (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993). …

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