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Title: Language anxiety in Chinese learners of English in the U.K. :conceptualisation of language anxiety in second language learning and its relationship with other leaner variables
Authors: Wan, Hong
Issue Date: 2012
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study focuses on the conceptualisation of language anxiety in foreign language learning and on its relationship with other learner variables in Chinese learners of English in the U.K. It documents Chinese learners‟ English anxiety experience in the U.K., proposes a model of language anxiety, and examines the relationship between language anxiety and the following learner variables: English proficiency, exposure to English out of class, language preferences when learning and using English out of class, second language motivation, attitude towards learning English, self-confidence, and selected demographic variables (e.g. gender, age, educational level). Data were collected through the administration of a detailed questionnaire (including 120 questions), to most of which participants responded on a 1-5 Likert scale. A total of 177 Chinese students who enrolled on English programs at Newcastle University participated in this study. The data was analysed using a range of statistical methods (e.g. correlation and factor analysis). This study found that participants experienced low or moderate anxiety both in and out of class. Compared with Liu (2006), Chinese learners in the U.K. generally possess lower levels of anxiety than those in China in most aspects of classroom- based English learning. However, the learners in the U.K. feel more anxious when not understanding something in class than those in China. Factor analyses suggest six components for the construct of classroom-based anxiety: speaking-related anxiety; English-classes related anxiety; negative comparative self- evaluation; comprehension-related anxiety; fear of negative evaluation from the teacher; and fear of learning English grammars, and three components for anxiety out of class: anxiety experienced in handling difficult conversations; in routine conversations; and in the conversations with friends or foreigners. A positive relationship is also found between these two anxiety scales. The results show a negative relationship between language anxiety and exposure to English and language preferences, suggesting that the more English the learners choose to use or are exposed to, the less anxiety they feel in and out of class. Language anxiety is negatively linked with proficiency, intrinsic motivation, and self- confidence, but positively related to ought-to self. It is not correlated with demographic variables, integrative and instrumental motivation, and ideal self. Furthermore, ought-to self and IELTS scores were more strongly related to classroom-based anxiety than anxiety out of class; whereas self-confidence and perceived proficiency were more strongly related to anxiety out of class than classroom-based anxiety. This study extends the current language anxiety research in several ways. It explores the dual model of language anxiety by firstly identifying the components of classroom-based anxiety and anxiety out of class, secondly looking at their relationship with demographic, academic and psychological variables, and finally comparing the strength of these correlations in order to reveal whether they are affected by the same variables. These relationships, e.g. between language anxiety and exposure to English, language preference, exposure to ideal and ought-to self, and the different effects these variables have on classroom-based anxiety and anxiety out of class, have been under researched to-date. This study provides some new insights into language anxiety research. The findings suggest that the role of context outside the classroom may be responsible for some of the Chinese learners‟ anxiety experience in an English-dominated environment. Particularly, it can be used to explain some of the differences related to learners‟ English language anxiety experienced in China and in the U.K.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Modern Languages

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