Articles for Teachers

Anxiety in Learning a Language - Part II
By:C. Ozcan

To conclude, the research rejected the author's hypothesis. "...Although,the students with a strong fear of negative evaluation and the students with low self-perceived ability showed high anxiety, the effect that fear of negative evaluation had on anxiety did not depend on the level of self-perceived ability,nor did the effect of self-perceieved ability depend on the level of fear of negative evaluation." ( Kitano 559 ).

Lastly, the third article "Language Anxiety: Differentiating Writing and Speaking Components" by Yuh-show Cheng, Elaine K.Horwitz and Diana L.Schallert is also about the interaction between anxiety and achievement. But,here more specific examples are given. The writers focus on the specific components of writing and speaking.They emphasize their connection with anxiety levels. They talk about a test formulated by Daly and Miller which is named Second Language Writing Apprehension Test. (SLWAT) Second language classroom anxiety is seen as a more general type of anxiety with a strong speaking anxiety element whereas second language second language writing anxiety is evaluated as a languag-skill-specific anxiety.Acoording to their view,the reason of writing anxiety is low self-confidence.Learners are not willing to write in their second language as they are afraid of making grammatical mistakes. Next, they claim that FLCAS is related to speaking situations.They find to find out if anyone being anxious in speaking will also feel the same in writing.But, they see that these are two relatively independent constructs.Nevertheless,they share several assumptions.For instance, fear of being evaluated is common in both. They go on by stating the correlations among FLCAS and SLWAT. As seen, they represent related but distinguishable features. As they state the FLCASS variables had stronger associations with speaking performance than with writing performance.In contrast,the SLWAT variables were more related to second language writing performance than to speaking performance.(432).

Finally, they admit that measures used in the study were not enough.There were several limitations.It was only consisted of English majors in Taiwan.As only final grades were taken into consideration it was hard to analyze how well the grades reflected participants' actual proficiency.Moreover, this study does not give a concrete information about the relationship between anxiety and final grades.Nevertheless, this study makes it clear that second language classroom anxiety and second language writing anxiety are relatively distinguishable anxiety constructs.

Although, there are many reasons for anxiety in language learning, students mainly suffer from low self-confidence in speaking the target language.They tend to underestimate their ability and have negative expectations about their performance.

This research suggests that individual differences affect language skills. Some may be anxious about speaking whereas some about writing.This research's aim should be understanding the foundations of second language anxiety.They take this research as a first step and long for another one in order to understand the effects of other types of second language anxiety.

It is my firm belief that anxiety affects our lives both physically and psychologically.When we are confronted with a difficult situation we feel our heart beating faster and therefore we are frightened.The thought of failure makes us much more nervous.Due to that fact, sometimes we are not capable of controlling our behaviours.All the writers of articles name foreign language anxiety as a specific construct. Although I believe in their thought,I want to add something to that.In my view, anxious people tend to have this kind of feeling more than calm people. In the first place, anxious people are frigtened of negative social evaluation.Without doubt, this affects their speaking ability when learning a language. On the one hand they want to make a positive social impression on others, but on the other hand they are afraid of making mistakes.They prefer keeping in silent rather than being active.As all authors claim, confidence in oneself carries a vital importance.Internally, a learner can motivate himself/herself .Concerning the results of researches, Kazu Kitano claims that as self-perception ability increases anxiety decreases in language learning.

Elaine K.Horwits states that final grades are not enough to measure students' achievement in language learning. I agree with her.Needless to say, a student should not be evaluated according to only one criteria. Test anxiety hardens the student's situation. A successful learner may feel uncomfortable during an exam. As far as I think of myself, I can understand why in some cases achievement decreases in exams. After studying so much, I sometimes feel a bit worried about not being able to succeed in. Once you feel you know everything concerning that lesson, you want to show that in your paper.This ambition may affect you negatively.For instance, you can suffer from stomachache just before the exam.

Some researchers argue that problems faced in native language learning has an impact on second language learning. Foreign language problems can be linked to native language problems in mastering phonological,syntactic and semantic codes of language. For example, because of the alphabet we are not used to, we may have difficulties in pronouncing the words.There may be different grammar patterns we are not used to. As mentioned in the research, students had many difficulties while learning Japanese as it is a very difficult language.That is to say, if you have poor language ability you may have foreign language anxiety.

There are many internal and external factors which arises or lowers the level of anxiety.Kazu Kitano in his research made among college students learning Japanese examined mainly two factors: instructional level and experience of visiting Japan.Naturally, a student in an advanced level wants to develop more sophisticated communication. As advanced learners acquire much more knowledge they can easily be aware of their mistakes.So, when they make mistakes while speaking, they are ashamed and embrrassed.Furthermore, they know that as level progresses, teachers expect more from them. They become anxious when teachers are not understanding enough. They also wish not to be negatively evaluated by their teachers or peers. It is possible for the ones with fear of nagative evaluation to have increased level of anxiety in the advanced-level classroom.On the other hand, the ones who don't have anxiety in language learning can change this situation to their advantage. Owing to the fact that, they acquire much more knowledge, they can improve themselves in various ways.Apart from this,experience of visiting Japan also has an impact on the level of anxiety.Learners who have spent some time in Japan appears to be more strongly influenced by their fear of negative evaluation than others who have spent no time in Japan.They believe that they are expected to know more. They try to do beter in the class but at the same time that ambition bores them. Instead of chancing that experience into an advantage, some have a much more anxiety level than others who have no experience of visiting that country.

That anxiety level changes according to gender suprised me the most in Kitanos's research.With reference to his study, male students became more anxious than female students while learning a second language.On the other hand, for the female students there was no such relationship between their anxiety level and self-perception of their speaking ability. The reason for that difference was found out to be that Japanese programs attrack male students in terms of offering pragmatic advantage of language skills.They want to use that knowledge in business or in scientific or technical fields. They are more concerned about their ability as this can affect their success in their future careers.But. female students focus on grades more than male students do. For female students, it is important to know how well they perporm or achieve.Nevretheless, the reseacher believes that the gender difference in relationship between anxiety and achievement should be explored further.

Taking everything into account, I want to emphasize the roles of teachers in language learning. There are lots of things they can do while teaching a second language.Elaine K.Horwits mentions about the roles of teachers in her essay.I would like to comment on these and add my own ideas.First, teachers have to understand the reasons of students' anxieties. They can start from questioning how their behaviors affect the anxiety level.Whether their interaction with the students causes anxiety in the class is a question to be answered.Secondly, they should organize the class in a manner where the level of anxiety decreases. They have to prepare a secure and safe environment.In a sense, they are helpers of students.They play a significant role in teaching. So,they have to do show sincere support or interest. Moreover, they have to prove that they trust the students.When a student sees that a teacher is intersted in his/her ideas, he/she tries to do better.The teacher is able to know who can not succeed in the class.So, he/she can make an effort to respond appropriately to students' failings.The teacher shoul bear in mind that there is not such a rule saying that advanced-level students are less anxious. Anxiety does not change according to knowledge perceived. If anyone has a fear of being negatively evaluated he/she may feel uncomfortable for some time. It will be useful to make positive comments to students.By this way, one can encourage them to do their best.Broadly speaking, a positive support from a teacher will enable any student to achieve.At least, he/she will make an effort to do better.

Some studies found out that learners with higher levels of anxiety actually showed higher achievement scores.They belive that anxiety brings competitiveness.That motivates learners to study harder.Needless to say, they believe in the positive effect of anxiety.In my view,there is a negative relationship between anxiety and achievement.There may be some places where a little nervous tension affects the success positively. But, I strongly believe that as anxiety increases achievement in language learning decreases.

When I think about the last article I've analysed, I believe in the authors idea that language anxiety may vary according to different language skills such as listening, writing, speaking and reading.That is to say, each of them possesses their unique defining characters.A learner who is not good at reading may be successful in speaking or vice versa.

On the whole, being anxious disables us in many aspects.When we are anxious our mind puzzles.Although we know what to say, sometimes we can not recall it at the vital moment. When we see we can not communicate, we become frustrated.These feelings make some learner give up their courses.But, they should bear in mind that things like thay may happen. They should not cease from this situation.Instead of giving up, learners should analyse their fears and develop a personal strategy for overcoming them. There is no need to avoid the situation.They can try to force themselves to communicate.Indeed, all language learners make mistakes.They have to be relaxed and talk confidently.In my opinion a further research should be carried on concerning this fact.Anxious learners should be analysed after they have tried to calm down themselves. Then, researchers can find out if the level of anxiety has lessened in these learners.

C. Ozcan - is the author for Site Insaat Inc. Please visit Turkish Construction internship offers at Site Insaat for more information about Turkish contracting and construction services in Turkey.

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