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The Effects of Anxiety on Language Learning of Esl and Efl University Students

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The Effects of Anxiety On Language Learning of ESL and EFL University Students Review of Literature Introduction: There has always been the existence of the feeling of anxiety-anticipation of danger and the fear of some untoward occurrence in the back f our minds. However, in the modern age of stress, cutthroat competition and uncertainty, the problem of anxiety has become chronic and has developed into a menace.

This, as every one knows, has posed a strong challenge towards the maintenance of our good health and well-being and onto learning process of learners and even stronger, in ESL and EFL university students for being taught a foreign/second language besides their own ones. For defining anxiety, it can be said that anxiety is an uncomfortable emotional state which has some characteristics like: feeling of apprehension, worry, nervousness, dread, and feeling of stress that may stem from the anticipation of some non-specific source of danger.

Rapid heartbeat,dizziness,fainting tendency,trembling,irregularbreathing,sweating,palpitations,hypertension,chest pain and shortness of breath, are common symptoms, all/some of which are observed in persons suffering from anxiety. It may be noted that anxiety may actually prove beneficial in some respects, too. The feeling of anxiety helps cope with the intense situations arising in life.

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In a way, it helps motivate persons to prepare in the best manner and perform to the utmost in public speaking, at an exam, in working towards meeting some deadline,etc.

However,it turns into a malady if it goes beyond a certain limit and even may threaten health. In today’s world, there is a large amount of reported cases who are suffering from anxiety and it may even reach such enormous proportions in some people, as to interfere with their ability to function normally. Researchers have studied the effects of anxiety on foreign language learning since the 1970’s; and on second language learning, there are many researches as well. London, R says that: The monumental need of the ESL student is to interact normally both socially and academically in the mainstream classroom .

Social and academic anxieties, are the core impediments to adoption and learning. Thus,the teachers need to understand the specific nature of these anxieties by using an affective measurement scale to identify the specific anxiety –provoking scenarios the ESL student experiences. Further more, teachers need to work collaboratively with the student, parents, and each other to set clear performance and behavioral expectations. ESL students need to learn the practical functional nature and practice the functional language needed to participate fully.

Finally, structuring self- assessment, as well as classroom activities aimed to maximize an interactive academic experience is essential. Daniels and Hewitt attempted to investigate the effects of different levels of test anxiety on actual rather than simulated classroom test performance. The intent was to learn whether the effect of anxiety would be dependent upon or independent of several variables, such as test scores, sex differences, intelligence, and type of test items.

In response to the last, Boor claims that: the Sara son Test Anxiety Scale was administered to students immediately after a course examination and to other students after a regular class period. A significant relationship between test anxiety and examination scores was obtained for the former group and no significant relationship was found when intelligence was partialed out. As Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1991) note, educators should help anxious students cope with existing anxiety-provoking situations and endeavor to make the learning context less stressful.

When learners view the classroom as anxiety inducing, they often feel as if they are swimming among sharks and become less socially oriented, less assertive, and more withdrawn or self-conscious than in other situations. Anxiety is often a manifestation of feelings of incompetence. And he says that: where the trigger is concern over being scrutinized, judged and compared to others, the teacher can alleviate anxiety and foster a less confrontational atmosphere by encouraging pair work, group activities and scaffolding for mutual support and reassurance.

Young (1991) identifies the following as the main categories and sources of language learning anxiety for general learners. A. anxiety stemming from personal and interpersonal anxieties 1. Low self-esteem 2. Competitiveness 3. Self-perceived low ability levels 4. Communication apprehension 5. Social anxiety 6. Existential anxiety 7. Lack of SL group membership 8. Learner beliefs about language learning B. anxiety stemming from role-related beliefs about language teaching 1. That some intimidation of students is necessary 2.

That the instructor’s role is to correct students constantly 3. That the instructor cannot have students working in pairs because the class may get out of control 4. That the instructor should be doing most of the talking and teaching 5. That the instructor is like a drill sergeant C. anxiety stemming from instructor-learner interactions 1. from the instructor’s harsh manner of correcting student errors 2. from students’ fear of being incorrect in front of their peers 3. from students’ concerns over how mistakes are perceived in the language class

D. anxiety stemming from classroom procedures 1. Having student speak in the target language in front of the class 2. Giving frequent oral quizzes, listening comprehension in particular 3. Calling on student to respond orally and exclusively in the SL E. anxiety stemming from aspects of language testing 1. Test formats that evoke more anxiety than others, e. g. , listening comprehension, translation from SL to English 2. Over-studying for hours only to find that the tests assess different material 3. Unfamiliar test tasks Conclusion:

Some aspects mentioned in above researches which are proved to be correlated with the level of anxiety are, for example, belief in giftedness and self-efficacy and so on . It is discussed in almost all researches that anxiety may have both facilitative and debilitative effects on language learning of SL/FL learners . However, anxiety seems to be facilitative in some situations of learning especially in second/foreign language learning in a way that it reduces the feeling of being watched or/and being appeared unnatural in reacting inFL/SL learning classes and further in lesson replying in real situations.

Because anxiety may have a debilitating effect on the acquisition of the second language, it is important to help learners to cope with and reduce second language anxiety. And for recognition of these effects and cope with them, it seems to be needed a new conclusive study for some forgotten aspects or in other way: for recognizing higher and lower important ones first. After that, researchers should identify the specific items that make the students anxious.

The researcher needs to discuss the results with the students and come to conclusions by asking the ESL/EFL student some questions to find the sources of anxiety in the ESL/EFL students. References: Barney, G (2006). Anxiety-Unnatural or Natural, anxiety, 2, Article0611from http://www. articlecube. com Boor, M (1978). Test Anxiety and Classroom Examination Performance: A Reply to Daniels and Hewitt . Clinical Psychology Journal, 36 (1) Jan 1980, 177-179. Burden, P (2004). The Teacher as

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