The Role Of Anxiety On Learning The Second Language (English) Research Paper Examples

Type of paper: Research Paper

Topic: Anxiety, Students, Language, Education, English, Politics, Learning, Study

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/18


This study examines the foreign language anxiety of Arabic students. Data were collected from 64 Arabic participants who are learning English as a second language. The results of this study reveal that students who admit to feeling “good” performed better with grammar and vocabulary quiz. The study is to show that anxiety influences the study process in a negative way. This will allow to create the proper language curricula, taking into account all possible sources of anxiety.
Key words: English as a Second Language, Foreign Language Anxiety, Sources of Anxiety.


Anxiety is a common feeling that we face every day in different spheres of our lives. Normal levels of stress can even help us to work more effectively and much faster. However, overwhelming anxiety can affect badly on students’ performance. Although the degree of this feeling may vary from one learner to another. More than a half of individuals experienced anxiety while learning a foreign language. According to such impressing amount of students feeling stressed, we can suggest that this is may lead to many potential problems for second language learners and make the study less enjoyable.
This paper focuses on the effects of anxiety of English learners by comparing the level of English with attitude towards anxiety. What effect does anxiety really have on test results, motivation and concentration?
Other important issues about the problem of anxiety are factors of stress in the classroom. This report has been written to help students and teachers to take steps to reduce the level of anxiety and create a relaxed atmosphere during the study process.
The purpose of this paper is to specify the role of anxiety on learning the second language. This study may be useful for both students and teachers. It will help to unite efforts to improve exam scores and work faster on new material.
With the increasing number of Arab students who want to learn English as a second language, it is really necessary to understand the impact of anxiety and all stress factors in the classroom.

Literature review

Over the last years a lot of researchers focused on the link between language anxiety and study progress. Students who learn the second language experience anxiety in different degrees. Some linguists point out three main components of anxiety on English lessons: anxiety related to testing and examining, fear of speaking and communication, the fright of negative evaluation by teachers and peers. The Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) was developed in order to measure the form of foreign language anxiety. This is a 33 – item measure based on the analysis of all sources of anxiety in the English language classroom. This scale was invented by Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) and has been used in many studies (Worde R., 1998).
In addition, some researchers specified the existence of listening, writing and reading anxiety (Liu H., 2012).
The learning foreign language anxiety was distinguished from other anxiety types not so long ago. Earlier it was studied from the influence of cognitive, affective, and behavioral functioning. Language learning process has a complex nature. That is why many early researches on anxiety had mixed results.
Self –esteem also plays a great part. Many students believe that they are unable to learn a second language or they are not clever enough. It was noted, that such views negatively impact on performance and create the atmosphere of self – induced failure (Worde R., 1998).
Awareness of the importance of English and volition control, influence the degree to which foreign language anxiety will affect on students’ will and decision to study English in the future. Students who are sure about the importance of learning English and have strong motivation are unlikely to be overwhelmed by foreign language anxiety (Trang TTT., Moni K., Baldauf R.B., Jr., 2012).
Other important point is that students who have different reasons for learning English are different in the level of anxiety. The difference becomes more obvious if one group of students has strong motivation, but another doesn’t have stimulus to learn English. All unmotivated students had second language communication fear, felt uncomfortable in their classes, and were afraid of negative evaluation. Language learners who have no motivation and those who study English for ego – enhancement or want to avoid punishment are more anxious than those who want to gain some benefits. By increasing of students’ motivation their anxiety decreases (Khodadady E., Khajavy G.H., 2013).
Motivation should be accepted by teachers as one of the key factors that influence the success of second language learning. Motivation provides the driving force to sustain “the long and often tedious learning process”. Without sufficient motivation, even students with remarkable abilities cannot get rid of anxiety and reach long – term goals. Researchers suggest that teachers should inform students about the importance of learning English in the beginning of the study so that they can develop strong motivation and volitional strategies to avoid anxiety on the future (Zoltʼn Dörnyei., 1998).


Participants in the study were 64 Arabic students ranging in age from 18 -21. The number of males and females was almost equal. They came from three different faculties and were learning English as a second language. These students had intermediate – upper intermediate level of English.
Data for the study were obtained using grammar and vocabulary tests (Mann M., Taylore-Knowles S., 2008), and suggested measure of anxiety level questionnaire (Aydin S., Yavuz F., Yesilyurt S., 2012). The main instrument was a questionnaire containing close questions (Appendix 1). The second instrument was a brief English grammar and vocabulary test that measured students’ performance (Appendix 2). The results from the quiz and the questionnaire were compared.


The results of the study indicate that there is a relationship between anxiety and test performance. Students with the greatest anxiety (25%) performed worse than those with the lowest level of anxiety (32%). However, being more relaxed did not create higher marks than simply feeling normal (43%).
Many students see language learning anxiety as emanating from a few sources like low self –esteem, fear of being evaluated negatively and bad preparation to the test. One of the major causes of anxiety was fond to be the fear of correction, making mistakes or even failing the class.
Many students (47%) argue that their classmates also make them anxious. Many learners remark that they are not as good in English as their peers. They worry to say something in class in front of the audience because they have the feeling that classmates would laugh at every mistake.
Another noteworthy cause of anxiety is a test. Students afraid of not being able to attain the needed score, which will ruin their reputation. Many students feel the pressure of time limits. They claim that it is impossible to concentrate and feel comfortable under pressure and classroom environment.


Now when we have the results of our study, we can answer the central question: What role does anxiety play on learning English as a second language? The data has shown that this is multiple question and results may vary from one individual to the other. Students who felt the most anxious during the test got the lowest marks. This would suggest that the lowest grades would always take those students who feel the most anxious. So the absence of anxiety should cause the completely opposite results. But according to the results it didn’t happen. The most relaxed students didn’t have the highest grades too. Students who felt normal and concentrated showed the best performance.
It was found also that students are dependent on class environment, teacher’s attitude to mistakes, relations between classmates. A lack of learning – friendly environment is very likely to make students more anxious. Also reducing anxiety may enhance student motivation. Furthermore, 83% of the participants were convinced that anxiety affects their grade negatively. Only 6% of the students thought that anxiety doesn’t play any role on their performance.


In conclusion, this study reveals that foreign language anxiety, experienced by Arabic students, differs in relation to levels of self –esteem, motivation and level of preparation for the class. Second language anxiety has the major effect on speaking and listening skills, than on reading. Moreover, students are aware of the existence of anxiety and convinced it does not allow to show their full potential. Students should be aware that anxiety is a common problem in the English class, and that other people also share the same fears and stress feelings.
The major sources of anxiety mentioned by students include fear of negative evaluation by classmates and teachers, oral tasks, listening comprehensions, presence of native speaker during the class and lack of preparation.
There are many pedagogical techniques that teachers and students might use to overcome anxiety of the foreign language. They include awareness of time management, extracurricular activities outside the classroom, seating to form a circle. Another recommendation made by students was that teacher should not emphasize the mistakes in front of the others, but simply repeat the phrase correctly. Many students become anxious because they don’t understand the home task if it was given orally in the second learning language. It would be better for teachers to offer multiple parts exams. That might help -students to show their full potential.


Aydin S., Yavuz F., Yesilyurt S. (2012). Test anxiety in foreign language learning. The ELT Department at Balikesir University, 145- 160.
Horwitz E.K., Horwitz M.B., Cope J.A. (1986). Foreign language anxiety. Modern Language Journal, 70, 125-132.
Khodadady E., Khajavy G.H. (2013). Exploring the role of anxiety and motivation in Foreign Language Achievement: A structural equation modeling approach. Porta Linguarum, 20, 269-286.
Liu H. (2012). Understanding EFL undergraduate anxiety in relation to motivation, autonomy, and language proficiency. Electronic Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, 9(1), 123 – 139.
Mann M., Taylore-Knowles S. (2008). Destination B1: Grammar and vocabulary. Macmillan Publishers.
Trang TTT., Moni K., Baldauf R.B., Jr. (2012). Foreign language anxiety and its effects on students’ determination to study English: To abandon or not to abandon? TESOL in Context, 3, 1-13.
Worde R. (1998). An Investigation of Students’ Perspectives on Foreign Language Anxiety. The Department of Arts at George Mason University of Virginia.
Zoltʼn Dörnyei. (1998). Motivation in second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 31, 117-135.
Appendix 1
Appendix 2

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