Foreign Language Anxiety

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Summary of Foreign Language Anxiety

See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: Foreign Language Anxiety Book · January 2016 CITATIONS 0 READS 1,917 1 author: Some of the authors of this publication are also working on these related projects: foreign language pronunciation/speaking anxiety View project Slovak-English phonic interference View project Zdena Kráľová Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra - Univerzita Konštantína Filozofa v Nitre 31 PUBLICATIONS 17 CITATIONS SEE PROFILE All content following this page was uploaded by Zdena Kráľová on 30 June 2017. The user has requested enhancement of the downloaded file. Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 Foreign Language Anxiety Zdena Kráľová Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 Foreign Language Anxiety Zdena Kráľová Reviewers: prof. PhDr. Eva Malá, CSc. doc. PhDr. Magdaléna Bilá, PhD. Constantine the Philosopher University in Nitra, Slovakia ISBN 978-80-558-1125-3 EAN 9788055811253 Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 Contents Introduction 1 1 The Characteristics of Foreign Language Anxiety 3 1.1 The Definition and Classification of Anxiety 3 1.2 The Causes of Foreign Language Anxiety 6 1.3 The Factors of Foreign Language Anxiety 9 1.4 The Consequences of Foreign Language Anxiety 19 2 The Research of Foreign Language Anxiety 22 3 The Subtypes of Foreign Language Anxiety 33 3.1 Skills-Based Foreign Language Anxiety 33 3.2 Systems-Based Foreign Language Anxiety 36 4 Foreign Language Anxiety Coping Strategies 41 4.1 Teaching Strategies 45 4.2 Learning Strategies 54 4.3 Intervention Strategies 57 Conclusions 61 Index 63 References 65 Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 1 Introduction “Minds without emotions are not really minds at all.” (LeDoux, 1996) The fact that some learners are more successful at ac- quiring a foreign language than others even though the circumstances of their learning are almost identical has led to investigations of individual characteristics as predictors of successful foreign language learning, most of them agreeing with the following categories (Oli- vares-Cuhat, 2010): a) cognitive factors (e.g., language aptitude, learn- ing strategies); b) affective factors (e.g., attitudes, motivation, an- xiety); c) metacognitive factors; d) demographic factors. Researchers had to accept the fact that personality traits such as self-esteem, inhibition, anxiety, risk- taking and extraversion, may well shape the ultimate success in mastering a foreign language (Dörney, 2005). As there is a growing acceptance of learners’ feelings and reflections in the learning process within the for- eign language teaching and learning community, one of the most highly examined variables in the field of foreign language learning is the foreign language an- xiety (FLA), sometimes called also the second language anxiety (Horwitz, 2001). There is a great deal of research focusing on FLA which is necessarily interdisciplinary as FLA is rather a multi- Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 2 dimensional and multifactorial construct representing human complexity. Though it is widely recognised as a mental block against foreign language learning and con- ceived as an obvious factor in foreign language learning, yet there are many inconsistent conclusions. The differences between studies over several decades in design and methodology and the complexity of indi- vidual differences in foreign language learning, have led to the limited amount of research findings about the influence of various factors on foreign language learn- ing that could be generalized (Ehrman, Leaver, & Ox- ford, 2003). Therefore, the purpose of this book is to summarize the most relevant information and research findings on FLA from the very beginning of its study in 1970s up to the present day and to introduce FLA to a general audience of researchers, learners and teachers who are inte- rested in this multi-faceted phenomenon. Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 3 1The Characteristics of Foreign Language Anxiety “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” (Henry David Thoreau) 1.1 The Definition and Classification of Anxiety Anxiety can be defined as a mental and physical state characterized by specific emotional, physical, cognitive and behavioral symptoms. It is an adaptive reaction which mobilizes the organism and helps it defend, at- tact or avoid an anxiety stimulus. The stimulus can be a previous extenal or internal antecedent or trigger. To state the definite causes of anxiety can be rather com- plicated as it is influenced by many factors – biological, psychological, social or other (Doubek, & Anders, 2013). Spielberger (1972, p. 482) defines anxiety as “an un- pleasant emotional state or condition which is characte- rized by subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry”. Scovel (1991, p. 18) further states, that “anxiety is a psychological construct, com- monly described by psychologists as a state of appre- hension, a vague fear that is only indirectly associated with an object”. When anxiety is limited just to a specific situation, such as using a foreign language, we use the term specific anxiety. On the other hand, the term general anxiety is used with those who are generally anxious in various situations (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986). Traditional psychological classification of anxiety types (Horwitz, 2001) distinguishes anxiety of people who Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 4 are generally anxious in a variety of situations (trait anxiety) from those who are anxious only in specific situations (state anxiety). Trait anxiety is a relatively stable personality characteristics (Scovel, 1978) while state anxiety is a temporary response to a particular stimulus (Spielberger, 1983). Anxiety when associated with learning a foreign lan- guage is termed as “second/foreign language anxiety” related to the negative emotional reactions of the learn- ers towards foreign language acquisition (Horwitz, 2001). FLA is generally viewed as a complex and multi- dimensional phenomenon of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings and behaviors related to foreign language learning (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986). There are two approaches to identifying foreign lan- guage anxiety (Horwitz, & Young, 1991): 1. transfer approach – where FLA is viewed as a manifestation of other forms of anxiety; 2. unique approach – where foreign language achievement is correlated with FLA but not with other types of anxiety. FLA can be viewed both as a stable characteristic trait and the temporary state caused by various factors. The classical study of Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope (1986) in- troduced a construct of FLA as a situation-specific an- xiety aroused by a specific type of situation or event (MacIntyre, & Gardner, 1991). Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 5 Two approaches to the description of FLA can thus be distinguished: 1. The broader construct of anxiety as a basic hu- man emotion that may be brought on by nu- merous combinations of situational factors (McIntyre, & Gardner, 1989; McIntyre, 1995). 2. A combination of other anxieties that create a separate form of anxiety intrinsic to language learning (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986). Two models of FLA emerged from Tobias’s (1986) re- search: 1. an interference retrieval model, 2. an interference model of anxiety, An interference retrieval model relates to anxiety as inhibiting the recall of previously learned material at the output stage, whereas the interference model is a skills deficit model. It relates to problems at the input and processing stages of learning as a result of poor study habits, or a lack of knowledge. The research in foreign language learning has provided support for both models (e.g., MacIntyre, & Gardner, 1994; Onwuegbuzie, Bailey, & Daley, 2000). Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 6 1.2 The Causes of Foreign Language Anxiety When understanding the cause as something that pro- duces an effect and the factor as something that contri- butes to the production of an effect (Merriam-Webster Thesaurus) we should deal with the primary causes and influencing factors of FLA separately, though they are often confused and used as synonyms in literature. In a situation perceived as threatening and beyond one´s ability to deal with the threat, anxiety is a natural consequence. Guiora (1983) said that foreign language learning itself is a “profoundly unsettling psychological proposition” (p. 8) because it threatens learner’s self- concepts and world-concepts which are rarely chal- lenged when communicating in a native language. Learners` self-expression is limited by their imperfect command of a foreign language. Inability to present oneself according to one`s self-image can set a learner into the cycle of negative self-evaluation as language and the self are intimately bound. Probably no other field of study implicates such a disparity between the “true self” and the “limited self” as foreign language learning (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986). Most of foreign language learners report strong speak- ing anxiety and indicate their inadequate speaking abili- ty as the strongest barrier in foreign language commu- nication (Bilá, 2013). They were afraid of being ridi- culed and not accepted as an authority by their stu- dents. Speaking in a foreign language is often sensed as Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 7 a “threat to peoples’ self-concept, self-identity, and ego, which they have formed in their first language as reasonable and intelligent individuals” (Horwitz, Hor- witz, & Cope, 1986). According to Bennett (1998), when our internal and consistent beliefs are threatened by any external stimu- lus, we activate our defense mechanisms to overcome such a “cognitive inconsistency” and foreign language learning inevitably requires learners to go through con- stant change or reconstruction. The starting point of the “chicken and egg” discussion about the causal relationship of the FLA and foreign language achievement was the article of Sparks, & Ganschow (1991). They viewed FLA as a natural result of difficulty and poor achievement in foreign language learning. On the other hand MacIntyre (1995) states that FLA anxiety is a well-established impediment to learning of all types. The debate whether anxiety is a cause or a consequence of poor language command has conti- nued and still continues (see Chapter 2 – The research of Foreign Language Anxiety). Nevertheless, it cannot be definitely stated so far whether the self-perceived unsatisfactory level of fo- reign language competence (the knowledge and the ability to use a foreign language) leads to FLA or FLA affects the level of mastering the foreign language. The causal issue of FLA and foreign language proficiency Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 8 remains controversial and FLA and foreign language achievemet seem to be “communicating vessels” with causality in either direction (cf. Sparks, & Ganschow, 1991; MacIntyre, 1995; Kráľová, Škorvagová, Tirpáková, & Markechová /forthcoming/). Horwitz (2001) examined and reviewed the literature on FLA and foreign language achievement which is very helpful not only in documenting the relationship but also for our understanding of this multi-faceted pheno- menon. Although the results of researches were similar in de- monstrating the presence of anxiety in the classrooms and its negative effect on foreign language achievement, more studies need to be done in this area to investigate the interplay of various contributing variables as the exact nature of this relationship is still blurry and may be influenced by various concomitant factors. Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 9 1.3 The Factors of Foreign Language Anxiety Attempting to understand the overall process of foreign language learning, researchers have investigated the relationship of language learning and different lingual (related to the language system) and extra-lingual (re- lated to the language learning process) variables (Kráľová, 2009). Lingual factors can be subdivided into the categories intra-lingual and inter-lingual. Intralingual factors result from the system of a foreign language itself while the interlingual factors result from the contact of two language systems (mostly a native language and a fo- reign language) (Kráľová, 2009). Several studies concluded that the typological distance between languages (as one of the intra-lingual factors) increases FLA, for example – Turkish (Kunt, 1997), Chi- nese (Yan, 1998), Spanish (Sellers, 2000), Japanese (Ki- tano, 2001), Arabic (Alrabai, 2015) or Mandarin (Yan, & Wang, 2001). Sparks, Ganschow, & Javorsky (2000) consisted on the fact that learners with poor first (na- tive) language skills are naturally anxious in a foreign language. Kráľová (2010) stated that the contrastive approach (comparison of a foreign language and a native lan- guage phonic systems) in teaching foreign language pronunciation resulted in better pronunciation and closer approximation to foreign language vowels than Z. Kráľová Foreign Language Anxiety 2016 10 the application of monolingual (foreign language only) approach. Nevertheless, FLA is considered more of a psychological (identity-based) construct than a linguistic (compe- tence-based) construct (Alrabai, 2015), and it most likely stems from the learner’s perception of “self” (Sco- vel, 1991), where self-perceptions, perceptions of o- thers, perceptions about foreign language learning and performance play important roles (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986; Gardner, & MacIntyre, 1993; Yon Yim, 2014). The extralingual factors are thus believed to affect FLA more intensively than the lingual factors. Numerous studies trying to identify the learning-related variables of FLA most frequently recognized the cathegories of personal (intra-personal and inter-personal) and impersonal determinants (e.g., Bailey, 1983; Gardner, & MacIntyre, 1993; Onwuegbuzie, Bailey, & Daley, 1999; Kráľová, 2009; Paradowski, Dmowska, & Czasak, 2015). The intra-personal determinants of FLA result from the learners’ personal characteristics, their beliefs and atti- tudes within foreign language learning, while the inter- personal ones are bound to the inter-personal interac- tions (learner-teacher or learner-learner) during the learning process. The impersonal factors are related to non-personal aspects of foreign language learning. From the temporal perspective, the static and the dy- namic variables affecting FLA can be further distin-