language anxiety among English students in Libya

Roa'a Raki Elshaheibi
Mr. Sirag Shinnieb
i.Definition of foreign language anxiety (FLA) 3
ii.Type of FLA 3
iii.Source and causes of FLA 3
1)Review of the literature
1.State anxiety
2.Trait anxiety
3.Situation-specific anxiety
4.Debilitating anxiety
5.Facilitating anxiety
Facilitating vs. debilitating
2)Sources of Language Anxiety
a.Communication apprehension 9
b.Fear of negative evaluation 9
c.Test anxiety
3)Cause or effect of anxiety?
4)Characteristics of Anxious Learners
5)Foreign language classroom anxiety
6)Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS)
7)Speaking anxiety
8)How to reduce or end anxiety
Definition of foreign language anxiety (FLA)
Children, teenagers and adults everyone feels anxious at some time or another, it’s a normal
part of improvement, for instance, its normal for a child to be afraid of dogs or the dark, but
when the fear continues and the severity augments, there is reason for concern
Anxiety can be difficult to live with; certainly, some might argue that is a huge
understatement. There are different types of anxiety disorder, and each approach with its
unique challenges and obstacles. All of them appear under the term anxiety because they
share certain commonalities, such as extreme worry and panic, disruptive thought patterns,
and a mass of mental and emotional anxiety symptoms.
Foreign language anxiety (FLA) or as it's called scientifically Xenoglossophobia it's
originally a Greek word xeno (meaning foreign), glosso (meaning language) and phobia
(meaning fear).
Language anxiety can be defined as the fear or apprehension occurring when a learner is
expected to perform in the foreign or second language stated Gardner & Macintyre) 1993(.
It's also the worry and negative emotional reaction when learning or using a second language
(Macintyre, 1999).and it's also defined as a complex construct that deals with learners'
psychology in terms of their feeling, self-esteem, and self-confidence (Clement 1980)
Language anxiety is the feeling of unease, worry, nervousness and apprehension
experienced when learning or using a second language. These sentiments may be caused by
any second language context, whether related to the production skills of speaking and
writing, or the receptive skills of reading and listening, will be discussing it further more.
Speiberger (1976, cited in Wang, 2005, p. 13) distinguished anxiety from fear by pointing
out that although anxiety and fear are both "unpleasant emotional reactions to the stimulus
conditions perceived as threatening," fear is usually derived from a "real, objective danger in
the external environment" while the threatening stimulus of anxiety may not be known.
Type of FLA
Research shows that the type of situational anxiety that is felt by students in foreign
language classes is different from other types of anxieties (Macintyre & Gardner, 1991b;
Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope, 1986, Horwitz, 2001; Scovel; 1978). It becomes reliably
associated with the language class and differentiated from other contexts, second language
learning (SLL) can be traumatic for many learners.
"Many people who are good learners in other subject's areas can experience anxiety when
learning a SL. They also identified three approaches to the study of anxiety, which are: trait
anxiety, state anxiety, and situation-specific anxiety" (Macintyre and Gardner 1991, p. 8792), which will be discussed more specifically in this paper.
Another facet of anxiety is divided in two, facilitating anxieties which motivate the learner
to 'fight' the new learning task; it gears the learner emotionally for approval behavior.
And debilitating anxiety motivates the learner to 'flee' the new learning task; it stimulates the
individual emotionally to adopt avoidance behavior. (Scovel, T. m1978)
iii. Source and causes of FLA
According to (Abu-Rabia 2004), "the foreign language learner characterized as having
anxiety is usually worried, physically insecure, and unable to engage in situational learning.
Different studies have shown different sources and causes of FLA, for example Horowitz
(1986) found three primary sources of FLA, communication apprehension, fear of negative
evaluation and test anxiety. Also Macintyre and Gardner (1991) tested these types of anxiety
and found a relationship where anxiety directly related to SL Performance.
While Price (1991) states the other causes such as the difficulty of foreign language classes,
personal perception of language aptitude, personality variables, and stressful classroom
Young in 1991-1994 claims that anxiety stems from the learner: the teacher; the
instructional practice. The anxiety is caused by personal; interpersonal anxiety; learner's
beliefs about language learning; instructor beliefs about language learning; instructor-learner
interactions; classroom procedures; and language testing, they are all interrelated.
Most common anxiety sypmtoms stage which face classroom students are fear, worry,
becoming forgetful, avoidance, trouble concentrating, nervousness, heart palpitations, dread,
sweat which in result leads to anger.
According to Horwitz (1986, p. 126), anxiety centers on the two basic task requirements of
foreign language learning (FLL) : listening and speaking, and difficulty in speaking in class is
probably the most frequently cited concern of the anxious foreign language students. On the
other hand, Hilleson (1996, cited in Matsuda & Gobel, 2004, p. 22), in his diary study,
identified various types of anxiety related to different skill areas: the participants in his research
demonstrated anxiety related to not only speaking and listening but also reading and writing.
Although research into foreign language anxiety has been almost entirely associated with the
oral aspects of language use, there has been a recent trend to identify the relationship between
anxiety and other language proficiencies ((Horwitz, 2001, p. 120; Matsuda & Gobel, 2004, p.
Horwitz et al. (1986) developed the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) as a
33-item self-report instrument scored on the basis of a 5-point Likert-type scale, from "strongly
agree" to "strongly disagree." Students respond to statements regarding their reactions to
foreign/second language classes.
1) Review of the literature
In this review of the literature I shall be studying what several researchers have written about
foreign language anxiety in general, and in detail concerning whether language anxiety is a
short-term state or a lasting trait or if its situation-specific anxiety, if its harmful debilitating
or helpful facilitating, which cause correlate with language anxiety, and how anxiety can be
identified in the language classroom. Anxiety sometimes occur in reaction to a particular
situation or event (situational or state anxiety), but it can be a major character trait.
Whenever people have a mental block against learning a foreign language, even if they are
highly motivated and brilliant learners in other educational subjects, each time they seem to
be suffering from an anxiety reaction that blocks their ability to perform successfully in a
foreign language class and find learning the target language tremendously stressful, they can
be referred to as suffering from a phenomenon known as "foreign language anxiety."
There is a complex psychological construct of many variables in anxiety; most none variables
are trait anxiety, state anxiety and situation-specific anxiety (Dornyei, 2005). In 1960s the
distinction between a personal trait of anxiety and the states anxiety has been demarcated,
and the two anxiety variables have been further detailed with the development of measuring
1. State anxiety
Some researchers say that state anxiety is an unpleasant emotional arousal in face of
threatening demands or danger, when dealing with specific situations, or a particular object or
event. State anxiety happens when the person makes a mental estimation of some type of
threat. When the object or condition that seems threatening goes away, the person will no
longer feel anxious, hence, state anxiety refers to impermanent condition in reaction to some
perceived threat. Language anxiety can start as transitory episodes of fear in a situation in
which the student has to perform in the language; at this time, anxiety is simply a passing
state. It's a "transitory state or condition of the organism that varies in intensity and fluctuates
over time"(Spielberger, 1966, p.12)
Example of that: It's normal for the L2 learner to feel anxious when he is been called in class,
before the exam, or when he is speaking with a native speaker of the target language, but only
if it's short-term and then proceeds normally.
(Spielberger, 1983) said "it's an apprehension expected at a particular moment in time as a
response to a definite situation". He even examined state anxiety in different conditions and
discovered that "females are more emotionally stable than males in their reactions to highly
stressful or relaxing circumstances". State anxiety is easily the state anyone can be in.
2. Trait anxiety
Trait anxiety according to some researchers refers to "relatively stable individual differences
in anxiety-proneness, that is, to differences between people in the tendency to perceive
stressful situations as dangerous or threatening and to respond to such situations with
elevations in the intensity of their state anxiety reactions".
This type of anxiety simply refers to a general level of pressure that is characteristic of a
personality. Trait anxiety shows a discrepancy according to how individuals have habituated
themselves to respond to and control the stress. The cause of anxiety to one person might not
affect any emotion in another. People with high level and suffer from trait anxiety are usually
tense and anxious. It tends to build over time; it can be the result of nervous disorder.
According to most researchers and psychologist anxiety may be consciously or unconsciously
quality. Same as state anxiety, trait anxiety happens is reaction to a perceived threat, but it
differs in its intensity, duration and the range of situations in which it arises. Trait anxiety has
been referred to as "constant condition without a time limitation" (Levitt, 1980, p.11)
This anxiety is related to health. For example, individuals whose self-rating of health is
favorable, score lower in anxiety (Forsberg & Bjorvell, 1993). Still, the relationship between
state and trait is much more complex, anxiety can be the cause of illness, or the effect of
illness. It also refers to the differences between people in conditions of their tendency to
knowledge state anxiety in response to the expectation of a threat.
A person who suffers from high level of trait anxiety occurrence more intense degrees of
state anxiety to specific situations than most people does and experience anxiety toward a
large group of situations or objects than most people. Hence, trait anxiety describes a
personality characteristic a rather than a brief emotion.
Some people who are naturally shy, nervous and self-conscious may already suffer from trait
anxiety and it's the general feature of being anxious.
3. Situation-specific anxiety
MacIntyre (1999) suggested a type of anxiety called situation-specific anxiety which is
experienced only in a particular and specific situation. According to him, foreign language
learners environment is a situation-specific anxiety and its felt when someone is required to
use a foreign language. And according to Horwitz et al.(1986) foreign language classroom
anxiety is a typical situation-specific anxiety.This ideas gave rise to concept of so-called
'situation-specific' anxiety. The final "can be considered to be the probability of becoming
anxious in a particular type of situation, such as during tests
The author Oh (1990) thought of FLA as a "situation-specific anxiety (that) students
experience in the classroom which is characterized by self-centred thoughts, feelings of
inadequacy, fear of failure, and emotional reactions in the language classroom" (p.56)
Situation-specific anxiety can be studied as trait anxiety limited to a particular context. It
can't be stable all the time sometimes it conflicts with several of situations. That is, this type
of anxiety is fascinated by a specific situation or event over time, such as taking test,
speaking in public, class participation, talking with a native speaker in their native language,
solving physical problems. MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) suggest that "foreign language
anxiety should be studied with this type of anxiety situation-specific measures because of the
MacIntyre and Gardner (1991a) considered that the situation-specific approach "offers more
to the understanding of anxiety because the respondents are queried about various aspects of
the situation" (p. 91).although this approach has the drawback that the anxiety-provoking
situation may be thought of in a vary general sense (e.g. shyness), in a more restricted sense
(e.g., communication apprehension) o extremely precisely (e.g., stage fright) (examples from
MacIntyre and Gardner, 1991a, p.91), these authors considered that the situation-specific
approach to the study of foreign or second language anxiety offers "more meaningful and
consistent results" (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991a, p.92)
Scovel noted that Chastain (1975) had concluded that mild amounts of anxiety could be
beneficial while too much anxiety could be harmful. Scovel suggested that the mild amount
anxiety which produced beneficial results could be thought of as facilitative anxiety, while
overly high levels of anxiety which produced harmful results could be thought of debilitative.
4. Debilitating anxiety
Most language researchers state that a helpful type of anxiety exists; some language research
shows a negative relationship between anxiety and performance. The negative kind of anxiety
is something called "debilitating anxiety", because it harms learners' performance in many
ways, both indirectly through worry and self-doubt and directly by reducing participation and
creating obvious avoidance of the language. Harmful anxiety can be related to plummeting
motivation, negative attitudes and beliefs, and language performance difficulties.
Gardner and MacIntyre stated that the strongest (negative) correlation of language
achievement is anxiety (1993).
The relationship between language anxiety and language performance is not simple. Yong
(1991) explained that sometimes language anxiety is negatively related to one skill and not
another. Ganschow, Sparks, Anderson, Javorsky, Skiller and Patton (1994) suggested that
high anxiety might be a result of language learning problems rather than the cause.
5. Facilitating anxiety
Most researchers recommended that language anxiety was actually 'helpful' or 'facilitating' in
some ways, such as keeping students alert (Scovel 1978).
Facilitating anxiety, as the name implies, is thought to be a kind of anxiety that improves
learning and performance, where as debilitating anxiety is related to poor learning and
In citing Alpert and others, MacIntyre (1995, p.92) wrote that "whereas distractions caused
by self-related cognition can explain the negative effects of anxiety on cognitive activity, it
has been suggested that some anxiety may actually improve performance"
Language researchers hold different views about the existence or significance of helpful
anxiety. Horwitz (1990) stated that anxiety is only helpful for very simple learning tasks, but
not with more complicated learning such as language learning.
o Facilitating vs. debilitating
These are two real-life examples of language anxiety in the first story; S's anxiety caused him
to drop out of the program and lose a prospective career in Russian, in the second story, M
recognized his anxiety and did something positive about it. Unfortunately, when learners
experience language anxiety, S's reaction -giving up- is more frequent than M's response.
Language anxiety is fear or apprehension occurring when a learner is expected to perform in
the second or foreign language (Gardner and MacIntyre 1993). This anxiety is linked directly
to performing in the target language, so it is not just a general performance anxiety (Gardner
and MacIntyre 1993; Horwitz, Horwitz and cope 1986).
Language anxiety ranks high among factors influencing language learning, regard-less of
whether the setting is informal ( learning language 'on the streets') or formal(in the language
Chastain (1975) found conflicting results when investigating the correlation between
language test scores and anxiety, which led him to conclude that mild anxiety, could be
beneficial (cf. Kleinmann 1977). This issue of facilitating versus debilitating anxiety (Alpert
& Haber 1960; Bailey 1983) may be central to research on anxiety in SLA (Scovel 1978:132)
and was examined by Bailey (1983:93) through analysis of diary studies, in which the
relationship between competitiveness and anxiety appeared to result in either an unsuccessful
or successful self-image. In this model (figure 1, below), the successful self-image and the
unsuccessful self-image subjected to facilitating anxiety enter a cycle of enhanced learning
and positive (mostly internal) rewards. The unsuccessful self-image subjected to debilitative
anxiety however, enters a different cycle of perceived failure, which can be broken by future
facilitating anxiety (if the learner continues in the language course):
o Competitiveness and second language learner bailey 1983
2) Sources of Language Anxiety
There are numerous anxiety-provoking situations in the language classroom. Horwitz et al.
(1986) identified three components of foreign language classroom anxiety:
a. Communication apprehension
This component refers to “a type of shyness characterized by fear of or anxiety about
communicating with people”
Communication apprehension is divided into four categories of trait, situational, audiencebased, and context-based. Trait apprehension is just that: it is a part of the person's
personality, usually stemming from shyness or general quietness. In any given situation,
regardless of the variables, a person with trait communication apprehension will feel
uncomfortable. Situational communication apprehension arises when a person finds himself
or herself in a unique set of circumstances: something that is truly novel. An example of this
could be the defense of one's thesis or dissertation. Even though a person could test low on a
communication apprehension scale. Audience based communication apprehension occur
when one person experiences fear or nervousness when having to speak to a particular person
or group of people. With this type of communication apprehension, a person could feasibly
communicate without problems to his/her spouse, but not feel comfortable talking to his/her
boss, co-workers, parents, in laws, or any other person or group. The last category of
communication apprehension is context-based. This means that a person experiences
communication apprehension every time that he/she is in a given context. This could be at
meetings, within small groups, one-to-one talks, or in the classroom.
b. Fear of negative evaluation
The second component is fear of negative evaluation, which is broadly defined by Horwitz et
al. (1986) as an apprehension about others’ evaluations, avoidance of evaluative situations,
and the expectation that others will evaluate one negatively.
Fear of negative evaluation is broader in scope it is not just limited to test-taking situations
and the academic subject matters. Moreover, it may take place in any social, evaluative
situations, such as interviewing for a job or speaking in foreign language classes. Many
previous studies (Alrabai, 2014a; Linh, 2011; Na, 2007; Zhang, 2010) have experimentally
identified negative attitudes toward English class as a source of FLA. There are a variety of
causes of negative attitudes toward foreign language classes. Khodadady and Khajavy (2013)
found that learners who lacked motivation to learn the foreign language had negative
attitudes toward English class as well as English communication fear, fear of negative
evaluation, and discomfort in class.
In the absence of direct contact with native speakers of English in Libya, Libyan learners do
not generally use English for communicative purposes but rather study it as a requirement for
educational or career purposes. However, this diminishes the value of learning English in
Libya learners’ views, and it generates their negative attitudes toward learning this language.
c. Test anxiety
Test anxiety is the third component of FLA, and it refers to "an apprehension over academic
evaluation” (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1989, p. 42).
This component is part of social anxiety, mostly in an evaluative condition where the students
are asked to communicate in the target language. Nevertheless, test anxiety can occur in noncommunicative situations too.
Test anxiety is 'the tendency to become alarmed about the consequences of inadequate
performance on a test or other evaluation'(Sarason1984), regardless of whether the fears are
realistic, students with test anxiety frequently experience cognitive interference(Sarason
1984) and have a difficult time focusing on the task at hand(Aida1994).
This anxiety source is one of a very difficult learner reaction that both mental and physical
elements to it. A test usually takes place during the semester or at the of the semester, many
students are usually busy with their homework and other activities.
The problem that faces all anxious students is often when they are not able to show or write
all what they have studied for the test because they forget grammatical material which must
be combined at the same time (Horwitz et al. ,1986, p. 126)
According to Chaniotis and et al., test anxiety may be defined as "an individual's somatic,
cognitive and behavioural response, which stimulates negative feelings about an evaluation.
As negative feelings are meant an inability to think, recall information, tension, and difficulty
in understanding simple test questions or direction on an examination"(201, p.201)
Test can be a valuable tool for providing information that is related to several concerns in
language teaching process. They can provide evidence of the results of learning and
instruction, and hence feedback on the effectiveness of the teaching programs itself
However, there are lots of sources of foreign language anxiety other than the previous three,
for instance; Young (1991) qualified foreign language classroom anxiety to six sources'
personal and interpersonal anxiety, learner beliefs about language learning, instructor beliefs
about language learning, instructor-learner interactions, classroom procedures, and language
testing. Moreover, Horwitz (2001) recognized that the lack of perceived teacher support is a
major factor that can evoke a learner's anxiety.
3) Cause or effect of anxiety?
According to Wilson (2006, p.93), various writings about language anxiety indicated that it is
difficult to determine whether anxiety is a cause or an effect of poor language learning and
achievement. She claimed that researchers who have used correlation procedures in their
study of language anxiety have been unable to confirm the directionality of cause and effect.
Causes of anxiety can be a result of genetic and mental factors that are intertwined in a
complex manner. Academic anxiety is also associated with other emotional or behavioural
disorders (Smith, 2009)
In order to reduce or avoid the negative influence of foreign language anxiety, it is helpful for
us to explore the sources of foreign language anxiety, which can help us better explain the
effects of anxiety on foreign language learning and also help English teachers find practical
and effective teaching programs and strategies. Having reviewed the literature on language
anxiety (Bailey, 1983)
Previous research (Price, 1991; Shabani, 2012; von Wőrde, 2003; Young, 1990) has
acknowledged that the language teacher is considered the key player in students’ anxiety.
EFL teacher characteristics and behaviour in the Saudi context are considered major factors
that evoke student anxiety (see Al-Saraj, 2013). Several studies (Oxford, 1999; Philips, 1992;
Reid, 1995; Samimy, 1994; Young, 1999) noted as well that speaking activities, teachers’
unsympathetic teaching styles, pessimistic classroom experiences, learners’ incapability to
comprehend, learners’ learning styles, and the learning context are all sources of learners’
anxiety in language classes. And some researchers include the absence of teacher support,
lack of time personal attention, intolerance with learner errors, overcorrection of students' and
thee sense of being judged by the teacher or wanting to impress the teacher.
Language anxiety can be the result of some unscientific or impractical beliefs of both learners
and their teachers (Oxford, 1993). Sometimes when the learners’ expectation or beliefs on
foreign language learning are unrealistic, frustration and stress are inevitable and accordingly
anxiety appears.
Teaching procedures is one of the major causes of FLA in the Libya's EFL context. The
traditional grammar translation teaching method is frequently used, which focuses primarily
on grammatical accuracy in the written rather than spoken form of the language. Some
activities, particularly those that demand that students speak in front of the class, have been
found to be highly anxiety provoking. The assessment procedures used in Libya EFL classes,
including those that depend mostly on written tests, and the continuous evaluation and
overcorrection of learners’ errors, considerably contribute to learners’ anxiety. Besides, many
EFL instructors in this situation make the classroom a time for performance rather than a time
for learning. The strict and formal learning environment in Libya is a fundamental factor in
learner anxiety. In Libya EFL students consider classroom as a place where mistakes are
observed and failures are pointed out
Tanveer’s (2007) study reported that they found the language classroom extremely stressful
because it was formal, their performance was constantly monitored and evaluated by their
teacher and peers, and they were generally blamed for the errors they made in class. One
male student said, “I get conscious, don’t want to make mistakes in the class, teacher will put
this in the mind and will give grades at the end...”
Who reported that speaking was perceived as the most anxiety-provoking aspect of language
learning among the Saudi female university students who took part in her study. Wu (2010)
pointed out that one of the striking reasons for learner reticence in EFL contexts was the lack
of experience in speaking English because most L2 learners communicate in their mother
language outside of the classroom. Wu added that students in this environment lack
confidence in their spoken English and become anxious when they need to use English as a
vehicle for communication.
This is true for Libyan learners of English Language because in Libya and most countries
where English is spoken as a foreign language, students do not have the opportunity to
practice the language in their daily time and exposure to it is least. The only place in which
Libyan learners are able to practice English is at school or work, which is not the best place
for practicing the language. Schools are usually anxiety-provoking contexts because in most
circumstances, learners are required to perform in front of their teachers, and been put on the
spot erratically, the student will be frightened of making a mistake, worry about failing
exams, may have their mistakes corrected in a harsh and embarrassing way, or frequently
correct the student’s poor pronunciation and may have fear of their low skills in the foreign
language. These traditions raise the feelings of anxiety in learners and make it hard for them
to communicate in the language class
MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) stated that anxiety regarding second/foreign language learning
and performance affect at least five domains: academically (high levels of FLA are associated
with low levels of academic achievement in second/foreign language learning), socially
(learners with higher language anxiety have the tendency to avoid interpersonal
communication more often than less anxious learners), cognitively (anxiety can prevent
certain information from entering a learner’s cognitive processing system, influencing both
the speed and accuracy of learning), personally (language learning could become a painful
experience that reduces one’s self-esteem or self-confidence as a learner), and in terms of
communication output (communication may be interrupted by the “freezing-up” moments
that students encounter when they feel anxious).
4) Characteristics of Anxious Learners
Anxious person overestimate how likely it is that an unpleasant event will happen.
- They overestimate how bad the consequences will be if the event does happen
-They underestimate their ability to cope with the anxiety and the unpleasant event.
Anxiety is the belief that you cannot control your own experience how you respond to a
person or situation is determined as much by patterns stored in your unconscious as it is by
external controls.
Empirical research has identified many features of anxious learners. Burden (2004) assumed
that anxious students are often concerned about the impressions that others form of them.
When these students are confronted in a classroom with a learning situation that makes them
uncomfortable, they may choose to withdraw from the activity. Burden added that some
learners believe they cannot perform in English and thus form negative expectations, which
in turn lead to decreased effort and the avoidance of opportunities to enhance their
communication skills. Additionally, anxious foreign language students are generally less
willing to participate in learning activities and perform worse than non-anxious students
(Aida, 1994; MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991).
Moreover, Price (1991) described anxious language learners as those having manifestations
in class that include panic, indecision, anger, and a sense of diminished personality.
The psychological construct of foreign language anxiety is multidimensional (Horwitz, 1986;
Young, 1991). Ohata (2005, p. 139) argued that “language anxiety cannot be defined in a
linear manner; instead, it can be better constructed as a complex psychological phenomenon
influenced by many different factors.” Williams and Andrade (2008, p.184) summarized
several variables possibly related to this specific type of anxiety and grouped them in
two main categories:
 Learner variables: ability (both perceived and actual), age, attitudes, beliefs, culture,
gender, learning styles, and personality variables
 Situational variables: course level, course organization, course activities, instructor
behaviour and attitudes, and social interaction among learners
Von Worde (2003) gave some examples of "physical" manifestations of anxiety in foreign
language students. Some "physical" reactions were "headaches", "clammy hands, cold
fingers", "shaking, sweating", "pounding heart" and "foot taping, desk drumming".
Some learner's comments were: "I clamp up, I get very tense and I start balling my fists", "my
stomach gets in knots", "I get all red", "I get really tired", and "I kind of turtle up and hide
from the teacher" (pp. 4-5)
5) Foreign language classroom anxiety
No teacher can guarantee that a class will be anxiety-free; however, teachers should be aware
of trying to minimize the anxiety in the classroom to strengthen language learning efficiency.
The most noticed signs of anxious students are:
-irritability/ tiredness
-frequent somatic complaints
-decline in grades
-withdrawal from peer group
-use of alcohol/drugs
-poor coping with everyday stress
-calling home frequently/ reassurance seeking
-angry outbursts/ suicidal ideation
6) Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS)
As this instrument has been employed so widely ( in its original form, or translated, or
adapted)and with such consistent results since it first appeared, as it has been observed to be
very reliable (Horwitz1986). It's a self-report instrument, was developed by ( Horwitz,
Horwitz, and Scopes (1986) specifically for the purpose of capturing this distinctive type of
anxiety by measuring learners’ anxious feelings in foreign language classroom settings. As
means of evaluating this particular kind of anxiety creating in the process a scale that would
be used by a multitude of researchers from then on.
Scovel (1978) had considered anxiety "not as a simple, unitary construct, but as a cluster of
affective states, influenced by factors which are intrinsic and extrinsic to the foreign language
learner" (p.134). The first study to propose an anxiety construct that was specific to the
situation of language learning was Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope's (1986). These authors called
this construct Foreign Language Anxiety, which they submitted was "responsible for
students" negative emotional reactions to language learning" (Horwitz, 2001, p.114). As
ways of measuring anxiety experienced in the language classroom were sparse at that time.
They identified three components of foreign language classroom anxiety: communication
apprehension, fear of negative evaluation, and test anxiety. To measure the anxiety, they
designed the 33-item Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS .)(FLCAS: a fivepoint, 33-item Likert Scale questionnaire scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5
(strongly agree) designed to assess the degree to which students feel anxious during foreign
language classroom instruction) developed by Horwitz et al. (1986)
Horwitz et al. (1986) noted that the 33 items in the FLCAS related to the three main sources
of FLA: communication apprehension (items 1, 4, 9, 14, 15, 18, 24, 27, 29, 30, and 32), test
anxiety (items 3, 5, 6, 8, 10, 11, 12, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 25, 26, and 28), and fear of negative
evaluation (items 2, 7, 13, 19, 23, 31, and 33). The FLCAS’s reliability was confirmed by
Horwitz (1986), Other studies have also reported the reliability of the FLCAS (Aida, 1994;
Cheng, Horwitz, & Schallert, 1999; Elkhafaifi, 2005; Saito, Horwitz, & Garza, 1999; Zhang,
7) Frequency Analyses
8) Writing anxiety
Writing is a language skill that is essential to academic success. Since it is an active,
productive skill, students learning to write in a foreign language face multiple challenges. For
this group, writing requires thinking strategies that allow the individual to express him or
herself competently in the other language, and is a complex activity that requires a certain
level of linguistics knowledge, writing conventions, vocabulary and grammar.
The complexity of writing as a task tends to heighten anxiety levels in students who are
taking writing courses. This anxiety can often motivate the student or lead to discouragement,
and thus may result in negative attitudes towards writing (Gere, 1987; Sharples, 1993).
Most language learners at all levels believe that writing is one of the most difficult language
skills to master (Kurt & Atay, 2007; Latif, 2007; MacIntyre, & Gardner, 1989, 1991; Sağlam,
1993; Shrewsbury, 1995).
9) Speaking anxiety
A great deal of this research has focused on anxiety with respect to classroom activities such
as speaking and listening, suggesting that oral classroom activities are most problematic and
anxiety-provoking for foreign language learners (Horwitz et al., 1986; Steinberg and Horwitz,
1986;MacIntyre and Gardner, 1994a; Price, 1991; Mejı´as et al., 1991).
In contrast, Hilleson (1996), in his diary study, observed various types of anxiety related to
different skill areas. His participant's demonstrated anxiety related to not only speaking and
listening but also reading and writing.
Not a lot of clinical research on academic anxiety because many people just pass it off as
something normal that students experience (Cunningham, 2008). When dealing with this
concept one needs to deal with the following research questions: 1. How does a student with
academic anxiety interact with others? 2. How does a student with academic anxiety operate
in the classroom? 3. How does a teacher manage a student with academic anxiety?
Speaking is anxiety-provoking in foreign language activities. MacIntyre and Gardner (1991d)
propose that fear of negative evaluation is closely related to communication apprehension.
When students are unsure of what they are saying, fear of negative evaluation occurs and they
may doubt their ability to make a proper impression. The inability either to express oneself or
to comprehend another person leads to frustration and apprehension
10) How to reduce or end anxiety
11) Conclusion
12) Implications and Suggestions for Further Study
iv. References
Aiping Zhaom (2008),Foreign Language Reading Anxiety: Investigating English-Speaking
University Students Learning Chinese as A Foreign Language in the United
Mudasar Jehan ,Anxiety and second language learning lecturer in English University of
Gujrat Pakistan
Paul Reginald Byrne, II, B.A. 1997, Foreign language communication apprehension of
Germans Learning English
Peter Cowden Niagara University 2010, Communication and conflict: anxiety and learning.
Jean T. Stephenson Wilson, Anxiety in learning English as a foreign language: its
associations with student's variables, with overall proficiency, and with
performance on an oral test
Mei-Ling Lee Chienkuo Technology University, Taiwan, Differences in the Learning
Anxieties Affecting College Freshman Students of EFL
Han Luo, Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety: A Study of Chinese Language Learners
Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M.B., & Cope, J. A. (1986), Foreign language classroom anxiety.
The Modern Language Journal, 70 (2), 125-132.
Tran Thi Thu Trang, Karen Moni and Richard B. Baldauf, Jr, (2012), Foreign language
anxiety and its effects on students’ determination to study English: To
abandon or not to abandon?
Dilek Yavuz Erkan, (2011), Writing Performance Relative to Writing Apprehension, SelfEfficacy in Writing, and Attitudes towards Writing: A Correlation Study in
Turkish Tertiary-Level EFL
Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The
Modern Language Journal, 70(2), 125‐132.
Evrim Önem, The relationship among state-trait anxiety, foreign language anxiety and test
anxiety in as EFL setting
Stöber, J. (1997), Trait anxiety and pessimistic appraisal of risk and chance. Personality and
Individual Differences
Fakieh Alrabai1, 2014, A Model of Foreign Language Anxiety in the Saudi EFL Context
TRAN Thi Thu Trang, 2011, A Review of Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope’s Theory of Foreign
Language Anxiety and the Challenges to the Theory
Young, D. J. (1995). Language anxiety in second-language acquisition: Using a wider angle
of focus. Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics,
Von Wörde, R. A. (2003). Students' perspectives on foreign language anxiety. Inquiry, 8(1).
Scovel, T. (1978). The effect of affect on foreign language learning: A review of the anxiety
research. Language Learning, 28(1), 129-142.
Riffat-un-Nisa Awan, Musarrat Azher, Muhammad Nadeem Anwar, Anjum Naz, University
of Sargodha, Pakistan (2010), An Investigation Of Foreign Language
Classroom Anxiety And Its Relationship With Students‟ Achievement
Abu-Rabia, S. (2004), Teachers‟ Role, Learners‟ Gender Differences, and FL Anxiety
Among Seventh- Grade Students Studying English as a FL. Educational
Psychology, 24 (5), 711-721.
Sae Matsudaa, Peter Gobel,(2004), Anxiety and predictors of performance in the foreign
language classroom
Jennifer Conway,(2007), Anxiety in second language learning cause and solutions.
MacIntyre, Gardner, (1994)the subtle effect of language anxiety
Katherine H. Moyer,(2008), Vol. 3, Debilitating and Facilitating anxiety effects on
v. Appendix
agree nor
1. I never feel quite sure of myself when I am speaking in my
foreign language class.
2. I don't worry about making mistakes in language class.
3. I tremble when I know that I'm going to be called on in
language class.
4. It frightens me when I don't understand what the teacher is
saying in the foreign language.
5. It wouldn't bother me at all to take more foreign language
6. During language class, I find myself thinking about things that
have nothing to do with the course.
7. I keep thinking that the other students are better at languages
than I am.
8. I am usually at ease during tests in my language class.
9. I start to panic when I have to speak without preparation in
language class.
10. I worry about the consequences of failing my foreign language
11. I don't understand why some people get so upset over foreign
language classes.
12. In language class, I can get so nervous I forget things I know.
13. It embarrasses me to volunteer answers in my language class.
14. I would not be nervous speaking the foreign language with
native speakers.
15. I get upset when I don't understand what the teacher is
16. Even if I am well prepared for language class, I feel anxious
about it.
17. I often feel like not going to my language class.
18. I feel confident when I speak in foreign language class.
19. I am afraid that my language teacher is ready to correct every
mistake I make.
20. I can feel my heart pounding when I'm going to be called on in
language class.
21. The more I study for a language test, the more confused I get.
22. I don't feel pressure to prepare very well for language class.
23. I always feel that the other students speak the foreign
language better than I do.
24. I feel very self‐conscious about speaking the foreign language
in front of other students.
25. Language class moves so quickly I worry about getting left
26. I feel more tense and nervous in my language class than in my
other classes.
27. I get nervous and confused when I am speaking in my
language class.
28. When I'm on my way to language class, I feel very sure and
29. I get nervous when I don't understand every word the
language teacher says.
30. I feel overwhelmed by the number of rules you have to learn
to speak a foreign language
31. I am afraid that the other students will laugh at me when I
speak the foreign language.
32. I would probably feel comfortable around native speakers of
the foreign language.
33. I get nervous when the language teacher asks questions which
I haven't prepared in advance.