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A Mixed Methods Investigation of Foreign Language Anxiety and Anxiety-Reducing Strategies in the Saudi Context

Alamri, Wafa (2020) A Mixed Methods Investigation of Foreign Language Anxiety and Anxiety-Reducing Strategies in the Saudi Context. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) holds great significance in the field of applied linguistics since learning a new language is the integration of body, mind, and emotions; focusing on one part only would never offer a full understanding of the learning process (Damasio, 2006; Young, 1999). Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) conceptualized Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA) as a “distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviours related to classroom learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process” (p. 31). The current study’s contribution to the field lies in in its attempt to identify the empirical practicality of implementing FLA reducing strategies and measuring their effect by using a quasi-experimental design. Furthermore, it investigates the perspective of both the learner and the teacher about FLA to gain insight into the causes of the complicated phenomenon of FLA since focusing on one group (learners or teachers) is unlikely to offer a full understanding of the problem. The study also investigates teacher anxiety and its effects on learner anxiety, which to the best of the researcher’s knowledge has not been researched before. The current study’s aim is to advance understanding of FLA and how FLA functions among undergraduate English major students within the Saudi context, by empirically testing – unlike much of the previous FLA research – the practicality of implementing FLA-reducing strategies and measuring their effect through a quasi-experimental design with an intervention and a control group. Moreover, the study explores both learners' and teachers’ viewpoints about FLA and examines the relation between learner FLA and teacher FLA. Data was gathered through questionnaires, interviews, observation and diaries.The findings showed that the students experienced moderate anxiety and that the teachers demonstrated low anxiety. The sources of learner anxiety were mainly traced back to the learner, the teacher and the instructional practices utilized in the classroom. The causes of teacher’s anxiety included fear of negative evaluation, perceived lack of understanding by students and that it has a negative impact on learner anxiety, based on the participants’ responses. The participants suggested a range of strategies to reduce FLA, some of which were implemented during the intervention stage. The intervention helped towards reducing level of FLA among learners in the experimental group compared with those in the control group.Implications for teaching and for FLA research design are discussed including, among others, increasing teachers’ and students’ awareness of FLA and its symptoms, encouraging teachers to create a supportive learning environment to reduce learners’ anxiety and focusing further research to explore teacher FLA.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Anxiety, Foreign Language Anxiety, Teacher Anxiety, Student Anxiety, English Language Teaching.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Wafa Alamri
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2020 12:38
Last Modified: 23 Jun 2020 12:38
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27941

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