Foreign Language Anxiety in Student Learning
Background. Anxiety includes uncomfortable feelings when learning or using the new language. It continues
to exist in the university foreign language classroom as well. A number of foreign language students report feeling
anxious about language learning. Research aim was to investigate the foreign language anxiety (in our case, English
as a foreign language, EFL) in the classroom context at tertiary level in relation to its effect on foreign language
acquisition as well as to design recommendations of how to reduce or exclude foreign language anxiety from the
university foreign language classroom.
Methods. The Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale developed by E. K. Horwitz, M. B. Horwitz, and
Cope (1986) was used. The questionnaire consisted of 5 statements about the respondents’ general background and
33 statements which were evaluated on the Likert scale from 1 to 5 by the research participants. The research sample
involved 200 first and second year students of Lithuanian Sports University .
Results. The research analysis revealed that the respondents generally felt anxious speaking in the language
class, making mistakes and being corrected by the teacher, worrying about the consequences of failing foreign
language class and speaking with native speakers. The correlation between the students’ level of knowledge and
their feeling of anxiety was established: students of lower level (A2 and B1) tended to feel higher levels of anxiety.
Moreover, female participants of this study exhibited higher levels of foreign language anxiety.
Conclusions. Foreign language anxiety proved to be a powerful predictor for demotivation in foreign language
learning and impeded the acquisition of foreign languages. The research analysis revealed that the majority of
younger respondents demonstrated a higher degree of anxiety. The more mature the students were, the more
confident they felt in EFL classes. It was found that female students felt higher level of anxiety in learning English
as a foreign language than male students. They were more inclined to hesitate and felt anxious in the language
classroom, while male undergraduates were more confident and had a greater ability to cope with the feelings of
anxiety and nervousness. Students with higher knowledge of English language (level B2) showed lower levels of
anxiety and felt more confident in language class. A large number of failures was observed at the pre-intermediate
and lower intermediate (A2/B1) levels. Therefore, the learners with high anxiety often got low achievement and low
achievement made them more anxious about learning.
Keywords: anxiety, foreign language acquisition, higher education.
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