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A Study of High School Students’ English Learning Anxiety
Date of Publication: September 2007 Researcher: Technology,China Zhao Na of Shandong University of
Reference/ Source: http://asian-efljournal.com/Sept_2007_zn.php Purpose of the Study: The study aimed to explore the high school students’ English learning anxiety in Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classrooms. Theoretical Position: Krashen (1985) once held in his affective filter hypothesis that high anxiety will prevent input that learners receive in the classroom from reaching the language acquisition device. Horwitz (1986) also asserted that language anxiety can cause students to postpone language study indefinitely or to change majors. MacIntyre and Gardner (1994), based on a study of 97 college students that learn French, concluded that compared with more relaxed learners, those with anxiety find it more difficult to express their own views and tend to underestimate their own abilities. MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) found that speaking is by far the main agent of anxiety-arousal, and that students with high anxiety perform worse than those with low anxiety. In Bailey’s (1983) study of competitiveness and anxiety, it was found that facilitative anxiety was one of the keys to success, and closely related to competitiveness. In Zhang Baoyan’s (1996) study of English learners in Taiwan, the results showed that there was no relationship between anxiety and learning achievement. Method: Respondents • 115 (56 males and 59 females) second-year high school Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) students Research Conducted
8. 20. which were intended to assess students’ overall ability in language use. 119 copies were collected back and 115 replies were found statistically valid. they were put in a group which was named anxiety of English classes.9310 which indicated that the high school students indeed had the feeling of anxiety in their English classrooms. And of all the statements the 9th one had the highest index of 3. This questionnaire consists of 33 statements. 15. 7. The respondents were asked to rate each item on a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (“strong disagreement”) to 5 (“strong agreement”). The test paper included five parts: multiple choice. The mean of the anxiety indices of all the subjects in English classrooms. Results and Discussion • The results showed that there were 16 items whose means were above 3. through the computation of means and standard deviations of each kind of anxiety. 14. 24. All testing items were drawn from a test bank.00. it was found that • • • • . 23. gender. The other was the Chinese version of FLCAS that was designed by Horwitz (1986). 10. 32). As for the remaining 11 items. etc. Moreover. error correction and writing. reading comprehension. such as their name. cloze. One was intended to collect personal information of the participants. was 2. 27. 9. Research Instrument • Questionnaire assessing students’ anxiety level • Achievement test used to assess students’ English achievement Research Procedure • • • The questionnaire was administered to 60 science students and 60 arts students. 33) and 5 items for test anxiety (2. 18.6579. 31. The test used to assess students’ English achievement was the final exam administered at the end of the semester. as Table 1 shows. Only the students from the science class supplied their English scores of the final exam.• • Second-year Chinese EFL (English as a Foreign Language) high school Shandong Province. age. The questionnaire consisted of two parts. which ensured the reliability of test paper. 21). China. 19. of which 8 items were for communication anxiety (1. 9 items for fear of negative evaluation (3. 29. 13. 25.
66748 .8865 Apprehension Fear of Negative 3. the mean of which was as high as 3.00 there were 7 statements concerning it.6508 2.1899 3. the mean of which reached 3.1828 Evaluation Test Anxiety 2.1828.9055 2.2137 3.students’ fear of negative evaluation.69587 . Table 1 The Overall Situation of High School Students’ Anxiety in the English Classroom Anxiety Variables Mean Communication 2.60911 The comparison of males and females’ English classroom anxiety Table 2 shows that in terms of either the general English classroom anxiety or each specific kind of anxiety.05). Among the 16 items whose mean values were higher than 3.0386 3. was especially serious. males’ means were always higher than females.6579. which indicated that males may experience more anxiety than females in English classrooms.64037 .61061 .71784 .6061 3.68776 .1535 2.8838 2.0119 Standard Deviation .7412 English Classroom Anxiety 2.71570 .62022 .66185 . especially item 3.026<0.9310 • Standard Deviation .48557 .65992 . Table 2 Males and Females’ English Classroom Anxiety Anxiety Variables Gender Communication Apprehension Male Female Fear of Negative Male Evaluation Female Test Anxiety Male Female Anxiety of EnglishMale Classes Female English Male Mean 3.7737 Anxiety of English Classes 2.83637 . But the results of t-tests (Table 3) showed that there were no significant differences between males and females in most anxiety variables except that of English classes (p=0.76055 .
920 2.039<0. A t-test was then employed to see if there were any significant differences in the anxiety of English classes between these two groups.277. And they were negatively correlated (-.407 1.05) 0. Table 4 The Correlation of Anxiety and English Achievement Anxiety Variables Communication Apprehension Fear of Negative Evaluation Test Anxiety Correlation Coefficient -.216 Communication Apprehension Fear of Negative Evaluation Test Anxiety Anxiety of English Classes English Classroom Anxiety • 1. the students from the science class were divided into two groups according to their English scores in the final exam. It was found that anxiety of English classes indeed affects high school students’ English achievement (p=0.225 0.8580 .05).458 0.232 which approached the significant level of -0. Therefore.277* p-value (<0.037<0.039 . It was noted that the coefficient of anxiety for English classes was -0.026* 0.099 -. The results of the analysis supported the hypothesis that was proposed above.25.057 0.251 1.685 0. p=0.Classroom Anxiety Female 2.05).05) 0.246 The relationship between anxiety and English achievements The results of the correlation analysis indicated that anxiety and English achievement were only correlated in terms of test anxiety.221 0.59556 Table 3 The Comparison of Males and Females Anxiety Variables t-value Significance of tvalue (p<0.477 0.102 -.
In general. Moreover. females are thought to be more adept in language learning than males. especially the fear of negative evaluation. disparaging. relaxed environment for English learning.(1979). teachers play the role of controller or dominator. Therefore. “Anxiety is not willful misbehavior. but reflects an inability to control it. impatient. or cynical likely will only make the problem worse” (Thomas J. b. Students usually feel nervous or oppressed. Evaluation This study used the descriptive analyses method which resulted that most students had experienced anxiety in classrooms. poor concentration leads to threats of achieving expected response on the given tasks. . Male students were found to have higher anxiety of English classes than females. it is not hard to imagine that females are more confident in their abilities to learn a new language well.232 English Classroom Anxiety -. parents have to be patient and be prepared to listen. For Zoltan Dörnyei (2001) creating a pleasant and sympathetic environment in the classroom may reduce the risks of anxiety. Threatening events/ situations creates an adverse affect on learning since nervous learners are often in a state of preoccupied attention according to Eysenck.085 0. they lack a free. Such high expectations usually do not encourage students.226 • 0. For this reason.104 Males have more anxiety of English classes than females. In support this notion.Anxiety of English Classes -. but often result in more anxiety. In most Chinese EFL classrooms. concentration and success towards learning English foreign language are hindered. Finally. Female students usually score higher than male students in English exams. I have encountered undeniable factors contributing to anxiety based on this study: a. 2004). Being overly critical. That means. another factor that cannot be overlooked is the high expectations of Chinese parents for their children. Hubert. Therefore. Consequently.
deep breathing or meditation” could bust students’ stress inside the classroom. 2004). p59). (1984).In fact. these useful techniques could be best instigated if it is being adopted. Critiqued by: CAROLYN P. integrated and performed as a part classroom activity. LAURON . the study has given too much attention to Chinese high school English teachers. (2009) “using progressive relaxation. According to Carmen Gloria Garrido Barra. This is the reason why discouragement and giving up have become an optional solution of the EFL student to avoid such pressure as cited by Oxford (2002. . “one source of difficulty that is often overlooked is the affective environment of the mainstream classroom”. For Krashen (1985a. According to Verplaste (1998). Hence. “there are many reasons why ELL (English Language Learners) has difficulty in the mainstream classroom. 1985b). “anxiety inhibits the learner's ability to process incoming language and short-circuits the process of acquisition”. To me. In my analysis. work preparations and knowledge towards affective factors of students should be place into consideration (Zhang & Chang.In addition. including a lack of teacher engagement and limited cognitive skills in English. this language research could have been more stressed out if the author cited helpful recommendations to these Chinese high school students and even feature schemes that would control the anxiety and promote enthusiasm in learning foreign English language.” As for Cummins. there have been suggestions to further enhance teaching environment to students which can be absorbed and implemented by language teachers.
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