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15 Seiten, Note: 1
2. Definition(s) of anxiety
2.1. Types of anxiety
2.2. Types of (F)LA
3. Development and theories about language anxiety
4. Causes and factors of foreign language anxiety
5. Assessment of FLA
6. Reducing language anxiety
7. Current trends in the research of FLA
Anxiety is probably the affective factor that hinders students in their learning process most strongly. It is connected to negative feelings and it is difficult to overcome. (cf. Jane & H. Douglas, 1999, p. 8-9) Due to the fact that this emotion is always present in the classroom, language teachers should be able to deal with this issue, and this seminar paper will give an overview of the topic. For this purpose, three research questions will be of great importance. This paper wants to examine the sources of language anxiety, how it can affect the learning process of learners, and which consequences probably arise.
Firstly, some definitions of the concept of anxiety will be discussed, determining the different types of anxiety, and including the several forms of foreign language anxiety (FLA). Secondly, the historical development, in addition to the approaches and theories used shall be explained, before the many factors that can cause language anxiety will be presented. Having dealt with the causes of it, the currently used assessment process will be discussed briefly. After that, different techniques and methods that language teachers and instructors can use to support learners with language anxiety are presented. Finally, the current trends in the research of FLA, as well as some outlooks will be given.
“Anxiety is the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of the autonomic nervous system.” (Spielberger, 1983, p. 1) Since there are different types of anxiety, and many definitions of anxiety exist, some results, especially those of foreign language-related anxiety, were misinterpreted in the past. For this purpose, a distinction between a general trait of anxiety, and a specified anxiety for language learning was necessary. (cf. MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991, p. 514)
Having already mentioned that clear distinctions are necessary, this paper refers to the distinction between a so-called “trait” and “state” anxiety, as proposed by researchers, especially for SLA (Second language anxiety) research. (cf. MacIntyre, 2017, p. 12) In 1989, research (cf. MacIntyre & Gardner, 1989, p. 251) concluded that “General anxiety”, which includes psychological factors like Trait, State, and Test Anxiety, and “Communicative anxiety” play a big role when it comes to foreign language learning. Trait anxiety is about personality traits and is likely to remain stable, whereas state anxiety can be seen as a response to anxiety-provoking stimuli. (cf. Horwitz, 2001, p. 112) Later, situation-specific anxiety has been added, since anxiety is a broad term and involves different facets. (cf. Horwitz, 2001, p. 112)
Due to the fact that this term paper deals with the problems of foreign language anxiety, which are situation-specific, and similar to test anxiety or stage fright, (cf. Horwitz, 2010, p. 154) they shall be explained in this chapter.
Language anxiety (LA) is a complex emotion and has been studied for almost forty years by teachers, educators, and researchers for Second Language Acquisition. (cf. C. Gkonou et al., 2017, p. 1) Therefore, different types of anxiety have been discovered, and many different definitions exist. However, one basic and influential definition of foreign language anxiety (FLA) is coined by Horwitz et al. (1986, p. 128): “FLA is a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs feelings and behaviours related to classroom learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process.” Moreover, FLA can be seen as a complex concept that is “influenced by internal physiological processes, cognitive and emotional states along with the demands of the situation and the presence of other people, among other things, considered over different timescales”. (MacIntyre, 2017, p. 28) As FLA is specific for different situations, it can be said that it occurs at a particular point of time out of a specific and frightening situation. Researchers agree that learning a foreign language is situation-specific since learners experience this kind of anxiety in different situations in a language class. (cf. Oteir & Al-Otaibi, 2019, p. 311) Additionally, newer research found that interdisciplinarity is necessary for this field, because so many factors and disciplines are involved. Therefore, not only trait and state anxiety, but also achievement anxiety, and facilitative-debilitative anxiety should be taken into account. (cf. Horwitz, 2010, p. 154) Facilitative anxiety is some sort of helpful anxiety, whereas debilitative anxiety can be harmful and hinders learners in their learning process. (cf. Oteir & Al-Otaibi, 2019, p. 311) Moreover, there is another term called “existential anxiety”. It is defined as having three relevant and interconnected parts that are essential for a language classroom. These are “acceptance anxiety”, “orientation anxiety”, and “performance anxiety”. However, it is not known for sure what exactly makes students develop these forms of anxiety. It could be something related to the classroom atmosphere, but it is also possible that it is not connected to this setting at all. (cf. Jane & H. Douglas, 1999, p. 8-9)