Foreign language anxiety: a study of Australian language students of Chinese
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 19:54 authored by April Law
Across the world, there are many people who take part in learning a foreign language. Within each learner, there are various individual learner differences that affect language learning, one of which is foreign language anxiety (FLA). FLA is considered by some to be one of the most important barriers to successful language learning (Tuncer & Dogan, 2016) and has been found to exist in all of the cultures where it has been studied (Tran, Baldauf, & Moni, 2013). However, there is limited research on student awareness of FLA, and a lack of studies replicated in different cultural contexts. To date, there are no studies that have focused on Australian learners of Chinese. This qualitative study investigated three Australian language learners of Chinese at the university level, and their awareness of FLA. The study also explored the participants’ experiences, and how they understood FLA in relation to their language learning. Data was obtained using background questionnaires, the foreign language classroom anxiety scale (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986) and semi-structured interviews. The findings indicated that the participants were unfamiliar with the term ‘FLA’ and the concept it presented, but were able to describe feelings that were consistent with the experience of FLA. The analysis also revealed that different factors, including the speed of the class, speaking Chinese, preparation, and friendship, influenced the anxiety that the participants reported. This study demonstrates that language learners are not always aware of FLA, which suggests that language teachers should enrich students’ understanding of FLA, and the effects it can have on language learning, so that students can utilize available strategies to work with this anxiety. Future research should continue to investigate FLA in order to improve understanding of the issue and the ways to effectively minimize FLA in language learning contexts.