Factor Affecting English Major Student’ Anxiety about Speaking English

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Rangkuman berikut ini diambil dari Tasee, Panida tahun 2009 tentang Factor Affecting English Major Student’ Anxiety about Speaking English yang merupakan Unpublished doctoral dissertation. di Suranaree University of Techonology.

Background and Hypothesis

  • Source of anxiety from perceived self-personality.
  • Female more anxious than male students.
  • Student with lower competence perceived speaking ability reported being more anxious about speaking English those with higher perceived speaking ability
  • Low and high degree of anxiety have same tactic to reduce alleviate anxiety.
  • Student may alleviate anxiety through psychical and mental method (Tasee, 2009, p. V)
  • Untuk menjelasakan pebedaan seseorang dalam mempelajari bahasa (Youngsang, 2001, p. 6)
  • Tujuan dari pembelajaran bahasa adalah agar learner dapat berkomunikasi dengan bahasa yang sedang dipelajari (Tasee, 2009, p. 3)
  • Anxiety adalah pandangan subjective dalam rasa nervousness, worry, and apprehension associated with an arousal of the automatic nervous system (Spielberger, 1983, cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 3).
  • Anxiety adalah keterbatan dalam situasi pemebelajaran bahasa yang berhubungan dengan communication apprehension, test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation. Horwitz and Cope, 1986 cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 3)
  • Young, 1992 menjelaskan bahwa kecemasan yang paling besar dalam pembelajaran bahasa adalah speaking (cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 18)

Research objectives

The present investigation aims at identifying degrees of speaking anxiety experienced by third-year students majoring in English at Rajabhat Universities (Tasee, 2009: 10)
  1. To investigate the existence and degrees of the speaking anxiety that third-year students majoring in English at Rajabhat Universities have experienced in their foreign language classrooms and the aspectwhich is most likely to cause speaking anxiety for the students;
  2. To investigate the relationships between degrees of the speaking anxiety and the four independent variables: learners’ gender, ‘perceived’ speaking ability, ‘perceived’ self-personality, and type of academic programme;
  3. To examine patterns of significantvariation of the degrees of students’ speaking anxiety in relation to the four variables in (2) if any at all;
  4. To explore how RU students majoring in English with different anxiety degrees reduce their speaking anxiety; and
  5. To explore how language teachers can help their students reduce speaking anxiety.

Literature Reiview

History of anxiety

  • Language anxiety mulai di ekspose pada tahun 1990, dimana diterapkan pada language learining proses mengenai dampak anxiety dalalm pendidikan (Macltryre, 199, cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 14)
  • Pada dua decade terakhir mengenai foreing language anxiey dimana hal ini berperan penting pada kesukssesan dan kegagalan dalam belajar bahasa asing (Ganschow et al, 1994, cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 15)
  • Pada tahun 1960s, banyak yang mengkaji anxiety tentang L2 dan performa, kemudian dampak dari anxiety pada 2nd dan foreing languanga learning, tentang dampak negatif dan prestasi siswa. Misalkan penellitan yang dilakukanoleh Philips, 1992 yang menemukan hubungan negatif antara foreign language anxiety dan oral performance (Tasee, 2009, p. 15)
Kepercayaan diri pada speaking engllish, jenis klamin, dan kecakapan peperan penting pada performa siswa dikelas pada tahun pertama (Matsuda and Gobe, 2004, cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 15)

Definition of anxiety:

Dalam pandangan aspek psychology anxiety merupakan sebuah rasa tidak nyawam saat seorang learner belajar bahasa yang timbul saat saat pembelajaran berlangung.

Sedangkan pengeritan menurut para ahli sebagai berikut: (Tasee, 2009, p. 16)
  • Fogiel (1980, p. 522) defines anxiety as “a crucial concept in the study of abnormal psychology because it is considered to be both a symptom and a cause of varying neurotic disorders”.
  • Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986, p. 125) define anxiety as “the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of the autonomic nervous system”.
  • Bootzin and Richard (1991, p. 541) defines anxiety as “a feeling of dread, apprehension, or fear that is often accompanied by increased heart rate, perspiration, muscle tension, and rapid breathing”.
  • Sdorow (1998, p. 485) states, “anxiety is a feeling of apprehension accompanied by sympathetic nervous system arousal, which produces increases in sweating, heart rate, and breathing rate”.
  • Wolman (1989) offers a definition of anxiety as “a feeling of one’s own weakness and inability to cope with real or imaginary threats”.
  • Hilgard, Atkinson, and Atkinson (1971) define anxiety, commonly described by psychologists, as “a state of apprehension, a vague fear that is only indirectly associated with an object”.
  • Anxiety adalah kharakteristik yang di miliki manusia secara wajar dalam merasakan rasa takut yang melibatakan pengaruh kondisi fisik dan sistem nervous (Tasee, 2009, p. 17)
  • Young (1990, p. 540) also points out that the “definition of anxiety is changeable depending on the research purposes.” For the present investigation, ‘speaking anxiety’ refers to “the feeling of apprehension, nervousness, or worry that interrupts students’ speaking performance just before or whilst performing English speaking tasks in class (cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 17)
  • Sedangkan speaking anxiety berdasarkan Young (1990, p. 540, cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 17) menjelaskan bahwa, kecemasan meruapakan rasa takut, kuatir, dan gugup saat ada interupsi terhadap student yang melakukan spaking di kelas

Anxiety and Foreign Language Learning

Language anxiety has been an important area of research in the instructional profession (Young, 1990). It is conceptualised as a situation-specific personality trait having two psychological components: emotional arousal and negative self-related cognition (MacIntyre, 1995).
Dalam anxiety sebagai sebuah ancaman secara personal yang mencakup dua komponen dalam psychology yaitu:
  1. Emosional arousal
  2. Negative self-related cognition (Maclntyre, 1995, cited in Tasee, 2009, p. 18)
According to Young’s (1992) study on foreign language specialists’ perspectives: Krashen, Omaggio Hadley, Terrell, and Rardin, speaking in the foreign language produces the greatest amount of anxiety in language learning.

Three broad perspective on nature of anxiety

1. Trait anxiety
(Speilberger, 1983, cited in Tasee, 2009) Trait anxiety adalah pandangan secara personal yang menimbulkan kecemasan dalam berbagai macam situasi. Trait anxiety adalah fitur pribadi secara indivisual dan yang muncul dalam sebuah situasi (Maclntyre, 1999, p. 28, cited in Tasee, 2009). Seseorang dengan kecemasan yang rendah maka dia akan calm dan relax, tetapi seseorang dengan kecemasan yang tinggi maka dia merasa gugup.

Trait anxiety is often viewedas personality which leads to anxiety across various situations or a probabilityof becoming anxious in any situation (Speilberger, 1983). Trait anxiety is “a feature of an individual’s personality and therefore is both stable over time and applicable to a wide range of situations” (MacIntyre, 1999, p. 28). A person withhigh levels of trait anxiety is generally nervous; he/she lacks emotional stability while a person with low trait anxiety is emotionally stable, usually calm and relaxed. Since the trait anxiety is a permanent apprehension personality, the trait anxiety can be manifested in language students who are perfectionists. It seems that theyhave to thoroughly know all they study and do not perform their language skills until they are certain about their knowledge. This can cause them to have an unstable and nervous personality.

2. Situation-Spesific Anxiety
Adalah sebuah fitur pada pribadi secra personal yang terjadi pada situasi tertentu. Contoh: stage fright, test anxiety, dan language anxiety

Like the trait anxiety, the situation-specific anxiety is a feature of an individual’s personality experienced in a specific situation over time. However, how situation-specific anxiety differs from trait is that the former is applied to a single context or situation only while the latter tends to manifest under any situations. Moreover, the situation-specific anxiety is stable over time but not necessarily consistent across situations. If one adopts Speilberger’s (1983) conceptualisation, the situation-specific anxiety represents the probability of becoming anxious in a particular type of situation. Examples ofthe situation-specific anxiety are: stage fright, test anxiety, math anxiety and language anxiety.

3. State Anxiety
State anxiety adalah kecemasan yang terjadi dari moment ke moment yang bersifat sementara merasa gugup yang fluktuatif
State anxiety is somewhat different from trait and situation-specific anxieties. State anxiety refers to the moment-to-moment experience of anxiety; it isthe temporary emotional state of feeling nervous that can fluctuate over time and vary in terms of intensity. In other words, it is the apprehension which takes place at a particular moment.
MacIntyre (1999) suggests the usefulness of discussing trait and situation specific anxieties. It is used to predict a person’s personality who will most likely experience the state anxiety. This allows the prediction of the negative consequences of anxiety arousal such as unpleasant emotions, worry, and physical symptoms.

Applied to language learning, we can see thatlearners with a high level of language anxiety will experience state anxiety frequently whereas those with a low level of language anxiety will not experience state anxiety very often in the second language context (MacIntyre, 1991). As the state anxiety has an effect on emotions, cognition and behaviour, those with high levels of the state anxiety could have a more sensitive automatic nervous system; are more sensitive to what other people are thinking about them; or try to avoid or escape from an unpleasant situation. In this study, the situation-specific anxiety was investigated since previous research has shown that language anxiety is the specific type of anxiety most closely associated with second language performance (Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope, 1986; MacIntyre and Gardner, 1991)

Anxiety Theory

Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope’s (1986) Original Three-Part Model of language anxiety. Figure 2.2 illustrates the conceptualisation of language anxiety proposed by Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986).
1. Communication apprehension
The first component, communication apprehension,is ‘a type of shyness characterised by fear of oralface-to-face communicating with people’. Manifestations of communication apprehension are difficulty in speaking in dyads or groups (oral communication anxiety) or in public (stage fright), or in listening to a spoken message (receiver anxiety). Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) propose that language students have mature thoughts and ideas but an immature second language vocabulary to express them. Those who typically havetrouble speaking in groups are likely to experience even greater difficulty speaking in a foreign language class where they have little control of the communicative situation and the performance is constantly monitored. The inability eitherto express oneself or tocomprehend another person leads to frustration and apprehension.

2. Test anxiety
The second component, test anxiety, refers to ‘a type of performance anxiety stemming from a fear of failure’ (Sarason, 1980). It is relevant to foreign language anxiety because performance evaluation is an ongoing feature of most foreign language classes. Students who are anxiousabout tests in their foreign language classes probably experience considerable difficulty since they have to take tests and quizzes frequently as a requirement of continual evaluation.

3. Fear of negative evaluation
The last component oflanguage anxiety is fear of negative evaluation. It is defined as ‘apprehension about others’ evaluations, avoidance of evaluative situations, and the expectation that others would evaluate oneselfnegatively’ (Watson and Friend, 1969). Besides, fear of negative evaluation often stems from competitiveness, i.e. from students’ evaluating themselves relative to other students rather than from evaluation by teachers (Abernathy, 1998).

Foreign language anxiety and foreign language learning

Foreign Language Anxiety and Speaking Skill. Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986, p. 128) define foreign language anxiety as “a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviours related to classroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process” As mentioned in Section 2.5.1, theyidentify language anxiety stemming from the three components, i.e. communication apprehension or general shyness about communicating with others; test anxiety which stems from a fear of failure; and fear of negative evaluation by both the teacher and peers. They also emphasise that the language anxiety is more than the combination of these three aspects and affect language learners’ learning.

1. Characteristics of speech
Speaking in a second language involves the development of a particular type of communication skill. To understand what is involved in developing oral L2 skills, it is useful to consider the nature and conditions of speech (Bygate, 2001). Production involves four major processes, i.e. conceptualisation, formulation, articulation, and self-monitoring. Conceptualisation is concerned with planning the message content. The conceptualiser includes a ‘monitor’ which checks everything occurring in the interaction to ensure that the communication goes according to the plan.

2. Characteristics of Communicative Competence
Communicative competence includes: 1)grammatical competence: knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, phonology and semantics of a language; 2) sociolinguistic competence: knowledge of the relationship between language and its nonlinguistic context, knowing how to use and respond appropriately to different types of speech acts, such as requests, apologies, thanks, and invitations, knowing which address forms should be used with different persons one speaks to, and in different situations, and so forth; 3) discourse competence: knowing how to begin and end conversations; and 4) strategic competence: knowledge of communication strategies that can compensate for weakness in other areas (Richards and Schmidt, 2002).

3. The reluctant speaker
Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) assertthat foreign language anxiety is a unique type of specific anxiety to foreign language learning. A great deal of this research has focused on anxiety with respectto 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; and MacIntyre and Gardner, 1994).

Other relevant Anxieties

1. Test Anxiety
Some scholars define test anxiety as follows:
  • Zeidner (1998) defines testanxiety as ‘anxiety subjectively relating to taking tests and exams, including anxiety related to the threat of failing an exam and the associated negative consequences’.
  • MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) offer a definition of test anxiety as ‘apprehension over academic evaluation’.
  • Sarason (1978) defines testanxiety as ‘the tendency to view with alarm the consequences of inadequate performance in anevaluative situation’.
  • Gordon and Sarason (1955, cited in Horwitz et al., 1991) refer test anxiety to ‘a type of performance anxiety stemming from a fear of failure’.
  • Sieber (1980) defines test anxiety as ‘phenomenological, physiological, and behavioral responses that accompany concern about possible failure’

Based on the definitions of ‘test anxiety’ proposed by the mentioned researchers above, although test anxiety has not been defined exactly the same way, one common characteristic of these definitions deals with the anticipated apprehension with failure of academic evaluation. In addition, it is regarded as a situation-specific personality trait.
2. Fear of Negative Evaluation
Fear of negative evaluation is an extension of test anxiety. Negative evaluation is defined as “apprehension about others’ evaluations, distress over their negative evaluations, and the expectation that others would evaluate oneself negatively” (Watson and Friend, 1969). In the case of foreign language or second language learning, fear of negative evaluation is likelyto be in a learner’s over concern with academic and personal evaluations of his orher performance and competence in the target language (MacIntyre and Gardner, 1991). Moreover, fear of negative evaluation would probably lead to the individual’s failing to participate in some classroom activities such as volunteering to answer questions, or initiating questions (Walker, 1997).

A Review of Previous Studies on Anxiety and Language Learning

1. Young, D. J. (1990). An investigation of students’ perspectives on anxiety and speaking
  • Purpose of the study -To examine anxiety and speaking from the student’s perspectives.
  • Participants – 135 university-level beginning Spanish students
  • Instrument – Questionnaire
  • Finding – Not only speaking in the foreign language but also speaking in front of the class is the source of student anxiety.
  • With regard to anxiety-reducing activities, the students reported that they would feel more confident about speaking in class if they practiced speaking more. However, they further reported that their comfort or anxiety level depended on the kind of activity.
2. Phillips, E. M. (1992). The effects of language anxiety on students’ oral test performance and attitudes
  • Purpose of the study – To carry out a research on effects of language anxiety on student’s oral test performance and attitude.
  • Participants – 44 students at a small, private, Liberal Arts University in USA
  • Instrument – Oral exam cue sheet for a role play
  • Finding – There was a significant inverse relationship between the students’expression of language anxiety and their ability to perform on the exam. For example, students with higher language anxiety tended to say less, to produce shorter words in communication units (CUS) and to use fewer dependent clauses and target structures, while students with low anxiety tended to say more, to produce longer CUS and to use more dependent clauses and target structures.
3. Tanveer, M. (2007). Investigation of the factors that cause language anxiety for ESL/EFL learners in learning speaking skills and the influence it casts on communication in the target language
  • Purpose of the study – To investigate the factors that language anxiety can possibly stem from, both within the classroom environment and out of classroom in the wider social context
  • Participants – A total of 20 participants (9 males, 11 females), 6 ESL/EFL learners (1 female,5 males), 3 highlyexperienced ESL/EFL teachers (2 females, 1 male) and 11 ESL/EFL practitioners (8 females, 3 males) participated.
  • Instrument – Semi-structured interview format and focus-group discussion technique
  • Finding – Language anxiety can originate from learners’ own sense of ‘self’, their self-related cognition, language learning difficulties, differences in learners’ and target language cultures, differences in social status of the speakers and interlocutors, and from the fear of losing self-identity
4. Onwuegbuzie, A. J., Bailey, P., & Daley,C. E. (1999). Factors associated with foreign language anxiety
  • Purpose of the study – To determine the demographic and self-perception factors that predict foreign language anxiety
  • Participants – 210 students at a mid-southern university in USA
  • Instrument – A Self-perception Profile
  • – A Study Habit Inventor
  • Finding – Seven variables: age, academic achievement, prior history of visiting foreign countries, prior high school experience with foreign languages, expected overall average for current language course, perceived scholastic competence and perceived self-worth contributed significantly to the prediction of foreign language anxiety.
  • – Regarding year of study, the results revealed that freshmen and sophomores reported the lowest levels of foreign language anxiety.
5. Yiamsawat, T. (2004). High school students’ levels of anxiety in the English language Classroom.
  • Purpose of the study – To investigate the effects of gender, educational levels, and study programmes on levels of anxiety in learning English among high school students.
  • Participants – 180 randomly selected high school students of a high school
  • Instrument – English language classroom anxiety questionnaires covering 36 questions within 6 language anxiety areas, i.e. 4 language skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing), vocabulary and grammar.
  • Finding – All three social factors have a significant effect on levels of anxiety in some informant groups, in some language anxiety areas, and in some language anxiety questions.
  • – Most informant groups have high level of anxiety in four language skills and medium level of anxiety in vocabulary and grammar.
Ringkasan/ rangkuman/ summary dari Tasee, (2009) diatas tentang Factor affecting anxiety. Baca juga tentang cara Creating low Anxiety Classroom Environment dari Young, Dolly Jesusita (1991).
Tasee, Panida. (2009). Factor Affecting English Major Student’ Anxiety about Speaking English

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