Foreign Language Anxiety: The Psychological Barriers

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The psychological barriers become one of the most important topics of research since they affect the learners negatively in the academic setting. Many researchers have been affirmed that for gaining a better achievement in the learning process, the affective factors should be taken into account. In this chapter we shed the light on the foreign language anxiety as one of these affective factors. We give some background to the study of FL anxiety, such as its types and sources. In addition, we mention how it impacts the learning process and finally we give some strategies that help in reducing anxiety.

1. Definition of Anxiety The second part of the 20th century has been officially stated as the “age of stress”, “age of anxiety” (Endler,
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If the students are anxious in class they will not be full engaged. Horwitz, et al (1986) state that foreign language anxiety has been found to have possible effects on academic achievement, (e.g. lower course grades), cognitive process, (e.g. difficulties in producing the language), the social context level (e.g. less communication), and the reaction for the language learner (traumatic experiences). MacIntyre and Gardner (1991) suggest that anxiety causes several problems for the FL learners because it can interfere with the “acquisition, retention and production of the new language”. This will finally cause problems for the anxious student in the language classroom with comparison with non anxious classmates. (MacIntyre and Gardner, 1991, cited in Dornyei,…show more content…
Communication Apprehension (CA) Communication apprehension is a type of embarrassment characterized by fear of and anxiety about communicating with other people. The personal knowledge that one has problems in understanding others and making others understood what he/she is saying (Horwitz, Horwitz & cope, 1986:127). It has a great impact on students’ communication competence. The students who have difficulties in speaking in front of teachers or their classmates cannot learn the foreign language well and develop their communication skills, and this is due to their limited knowledge of the target language (TL). Horwitz, et al states that speaking in foreign language means knowing the language, and that the interactions in the classroom are the major factor of the development of the foreign language. This is because of the fact that speaking is the most anxiety-eliciting aspect for many EFL students. The researchers (Horwitz, Horwitz & cope, 1986) claim that communicative apprehension plays an important role in the foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCA) because it has a relation with foreign language

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