ERG SES C 14, Language and Education
English is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world and an undeniable fact is that English is the common language of international trade, political relations, scientific research and science (Mohamad & Wahid, 2009). Therefore, it is very important to be able to speak, understand and use English fluently, especially for people that do not speak English as their native language. However, while students learn to speak English as a second language, they often face many difficulties. One of the most challenging issues for students is to be misunderstood when communicating with individuals on the international area. Even if they can understand the others correctly, they often express themselves incomplete and inaccurate.
The other significant difficulty is asserted that students are forced to face the social pressure. They might get negative reactions and are afraid of being humiliated by others. That’s one of the reasons students have difficulty learning to speak English. This creates general speaking concerns for students. Therefore, it’s assumed that the foreign language concerns arising from the factors that cause shyness are discussed in the view that this slowed the process for students of speaking and learning the second language, and with it, many scientific definitions have been made about anxiety and foreign language anxiety. Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope’s (1986) described anxiety is caused by stimulation of the nervous system by external factors such as fears, nervousness, and subjective tension. Lucas, Miraflores and Go (2011) put forth that anxiety is associated with many types of learning, but when it comes to learning a second language it is called ‘foreign language anxiety.’ It’s highly possible to assume that second language anxiety plays a role as a weakening factor in verbal communication for those who speak English as a second language (Woodrow, 2006).
As per Hortwitz’s (2001) perspective, it is reasonable to argue that anxiety negatively affects language learners because anxiety affects numerous type of things especially about education, therefore it is a highly researched subject in psychology and educational research. It is highlighted that anxiety plays an active role in second language education of students. Therefore, at the beginning of the factors that cause this situation is that these students are in the class together with their classmates and with an ‘authority.’ Occhipinti (2009) asserted that classroom conversation activities are creating a lot of tension on the students, which can lead students to fear of making mistakes when speaking English. In this case, the attitude of the teacher to the students is very important. Therefore, these worrying reasons need to be solved in foreign language teaching to reduce the anxieties of students.
Purpose of study
In foreign language education, socialization and talking are an inevitable part of the learning process. It might be said that this leads to the formation of second language anxiety at a negative level. Although this topic is widely researched for some time in the literature, there are still many shortcomings and insufficiencies about the implementation of the solutions. Therefore, this study aimed to bring different perspectives to English language education and to create and apply new techniques for students. This study was designed 1) to identify situations that negatively affect students' speaking of English as a second language, 2) to develop solutions for the identified problems, and 3) to ensure that the identified solutions are properly implemented. Therefore, to specify the research, the following question was asked in the direction of the above-mentioned aims.
How does anxiety affect students' English-speaking competency as a foreign language?
This research is conducted as a quantitative work. 333 university-level students participated in the study. The common focal point of used questionnaires is anxiety of speaking English. The following questionnaires were used to measure students' English-speaking reaction. Questionnaire items and student reactions to in-class activities (Occhipinti, 2009). FLCAS (foreign language classroom anxiety scale) designed by Horwitz et al. (1986). Beside these questionnaires, two demographic questions were asked to determine participants' gender and English levels. The aim of the two questionnaires was to see whether there was any relationship between anxiety and speaking English as a foreign language on students. Custom and frequency tables were used for analysis. Additional advanced statistical analyses are to be performed.
The results show that more than 90% of the students have a high level of English competency that means they should be able to speak and write easily and well. The results showed that there was a correlation between anxiety and speaking English as a foreign language, even though it was not very strong. Students are responded to the survey as they are not able to speak English easily and well in the class or they can speak below their general English competency level. Based on the results, this is mostly because foreign language education is theoretical and grammatical oriented. Grammar focused instruction and the fear of making mistakes create social pressure (Paakki, 2013). There are still some prejudices about teaching English as a foreign language at early ages in some countries such as Turkey, Russia, Italy, France, and Poland. Starting to teach a foreign language at earlier ages might help eliminate some problems stemming from anxiety. It is also helpful because pupils are still at their critical period. There is a popular belief that children as language learners are ‘superior’ to adults (Scovel, 2000). The preliminary results suggest that universities can take part in providing workshop-supported educational language programs in countries where English is the native language. Exchange programs are vital in this regard. Especially, providing funds for teachers who have problems in pronouncing English correctly can contribute greatly to reduce the anxiety of speaking English. It is especially important for teachers because the way teachers speak English is important for students to be able to pronounce and speak English correctly. Providing university students and lecturers with workshops or courses psychological topics might also help create mindful classroom environments in foreign language education. Other constructs and implications are to be made once the statistical analyses are finalized.
Horwitz, E. (2001). Language anxiety and achievement. Annual review of applied linguistics, 21, 112-126. Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern language journal, 70(2), 125-132. Lucas, R. I., Miraflores, E., & Go, D. (2011). English language learning anxiety among foreign language learners in the Philippines. Philippine ESL Journal, 7, 94-119. Mohamad, A. R., & Wahid, N. D. (2009). Anxiety and speaking English as a second language among male and female business students in Universiti Industri Selangor. Segi review, 2(2), 65-84. Occhipinti, A. (2009). Foreign language anxiety in in-class speaking activities: two learning contexts in comparison (master’s thesis). The Department of Literature, Area Studies and European Languages. The University of Oslo. Paakki, H. (2013). Difficulties in speaking English and perceptions of accents: A comparative study of Finnish and Japanese adult learners of English. Unpublished Master’s Thesis, University of Eastern Finland. Scovel, T. (2000). The younger, the better” myth and bilingual education. Language ideologies: Critical perspectives on the official English movement, 1, 114-136. Woodrow, L. (2006). Anxiety and speaking English as a second language. RELC journal, 37(3), 308-328.
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