Language Anxiety

English Language Learning Anxiety

The need to study English with strong communication skills has become more pressing and unavoidable due to its widespread acceptance and exponential expansion as a global language. However, while they work to develop their desired competency and conversational skills in the language, English language learners regularly experience and report emotions like dread, stress, nervousness, and worry. In particularly severe cases, it results in students’ total incapacity, brought on by anxiety, to even attempt to speak any English at all.

All forms of learning processes can be hampered by language anxiety, but it is known as “second/foreign language anxiety” when it is specifically linked to learning a second or foreign language. Students’ anxious reactions is crucial for assisting them in reaching the necessary performance goals in the target language. Before talking about language anxiety, we should talk about and attempt to answer two key questions. First, what exactly is language anxiety? And why is it thought to be so crucial for learning and using a new language? Second, how and if language anxiety experienced while studying a first language differs from language anxiety experienced when learning a second language?

There are two theories that explain how language anxiety first appears. In the first, linguistic anxiety is a generalized concept of anxiety and a basic human response that may be brought on by various environmental conditions combined. Language anxiety is an inherent mode of anxiety generated by the combination of language anxiety and other worries that results in an odd type of internal obstacle in language acquisition. It is experienced by a “shy” student when giving a brief speech in front of the entire class. According to the opposing argument, there is something about the process of acquiring a language that makes certain people uncomfortable and afraid of it. Language anxiety is the phrase used to describe this trepidation or fear when it happens in a language-learning setting. Psychologists sometimes use the phrase “anxiety reaction” to distinguish between persons who typically experience dread in all scenarios and those who only experience anxiety in situations involving language.

Language learners and their teachers/educators have an additional challenge as a result of language anxiety. Some students experience anxiety as a result of the growing demand in today’s society to speak “just in English” in language sessions since they feel that this exposes their shortcomings in front of their fellow students. Therefore, it is crucial to take learner anxiety into particular attention in modern language classroom settings in order to support learners in efficiently developing their communication abilities in the target language. Trait anxiety, state anxiety, and situation-specific anxiety are the first three types of anxiety. Trait anxiety is a persistent and largely stable personality trait that manifests as a propensity to feel nervous most of the time. State anxiety, on the other hand, describes a momentary condition and/or a response to a particular anxiety-provoking event, such a crucial test. Stage fright, certain interactive exams, and classroom engagement are examples of situations that might cause situation-specific anxiety, which is the persistent and multifaceted nature of particular worries that can be triggered by an explicit sort of state or stimulus.

Phobia of foreign languages

“Second or foreign language anxiety” refers to anxiety experienced while studying a second or foreign language. It is a complex phenomenon with many facets. “A unique condition of tension, worry, unease, and terror related with the excitation of the involuntary nervous system,” is what experts think it to be. The two fundamental and interacting skills of learning a foreign language, listening and speaking, are largely linked to anxiety. This may be because it is impossible to separate these abilities from one another in any language communication.

What causes linguistic anxiety?

Learners’ self-consciousness and a fundamental internal stimulation, such as unique self-perceptions of others, are linked to language anxiety. It can be seen in a variety of circumstances where speaking in the target language and expressing one’s own thoughts in a foreign or second language are necessary. Language anxiety may result from a variety of factors, including inability to speak the target language and ignorance. Overall, it can be a result of the linguistic challenges that learners of the target language encounter when learning and using it.

Language anxiety may be brought on by external cues in social settings, which may include a variety of social and cultural contexts, namely those where second language (L2) and foreign language (FL) learning are taking place. In other words, the target language is an alternate tool for communication, and as with any human contact, some people are more likely to feel anxious than others. Language anxiety may be greatly influenced by the assumed public identity of the L2/FL speakers, the power relationships and hierarchies between/among them, as well as several other problems and causes (such as gender discrimination). Language teachers can foster a learning environment that supports students’ capacity to pick up the target language by reducing fear and uneasiness in the classroom by looking into the causes of anxiety.

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