Scholarly article on topic 'Examination of University Students⿿ Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety'

Examination of University Students⿿ Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Academic research paper on "Languages and literature"

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Abstract of research paper on Languages and literature, author of scientific article — Hakan Karatas, Bulent Alci, Mehtap Bademcioglu, Atilla Ergin

Abstract Anxiety has been found to interfere with many types of learning. And, many researches such as MacIntyre and Gardner (1989) indicate there is a negative relationship between anxiety and second language learning achievement. In current study, it was aimed to determine whether the students⿿ foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCA) display significant differences on the basis of gender, language level, receiving English preparatory training, and the kinds of high school they graduated from. The research group included 320 male (65.6%) and 168 female (34.4%) English preparatory students at Istanbul Technical University. Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale developed by Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1986) and adapted in Turkish by Aydın (2001) was used as the data collection tool. Data were analysed using independent samples t-test, one-way ANOVA and the Scheffe's post-hoc test. T-test results showed female students⿿ FLCA score is higher. But, there was not a statistically significant relationship between FLCA and receiving preparatory training. ANOVA results indicated high school differentiation does not affect it. Yet, Scheffe's test findings demonstrated the students⿿ FLCA change over depending on their language level. In other words, female students are more appropriate to suffer from FLCA and FLCA is affected by students⿿ language level.

Academic research paper on topic "Examination of University Students⿿ Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 232 (2016) 396 - 402

International Conference on Teaching and Learning English as an Additional Language, GlobELT 2016, 14-17 April 2016, Antalya, Turkey

Examination of University Students' Foreign Language Classroom

Anxiety

Hakan Karatas^*, Bulent Alcia, Mehtap Bademcioglub, Atilla Erginc

aYildiz Technical University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences bYildiz Technical University, Graduate School of Social Sciences cIstanbul Technical University, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering

Abstract

Anxiety has been found to interfere with many types of learning. And, many researches such as MacIntyre and Gardner (1989) indicate there is a negative relationship between anxiety and second language learning achievement. In current study, it was aimed to determine whether the students' foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCA) display significant differences on the basis of gender, language level, receiving English preparatory training, and the kinds of high school they graduated from. The research group included 320 male (65.6 %) and 168 female (34.4 %) English preparatory students at Istanbul Technical University. Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale developed by Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1986) and adapted in Turkish by Aydin (2001) was used as the data collection tool. Data were analysed using independent samples t-test, one-way ANOVA and the Scheffe's post-hoc test. T-test results showed female students' FLCA score is higher. But, there was not a statistically significant relationship between FLCA and receiving preparatory training. ANOVA results indicated high school differentiation does not affect it. Yet, Scheffe's test findings demonstrated the students' FLCA change over depending on their language level. In other words, female students are more appropriate to suffer from FLCA and FLCA is affected by students' language level.

© 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of GlobELT 2016 Keywords: Anxiety; Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety.

1. Introduction

Anxiety has been considered as one of the most important affective barriers in language learning achievement (Aida, 1994; Hewitt & Stefenson, 2011; MacIntyre & Gregersen, 2012; Riasati, 2011). And, foreign language learning

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +90-212-383-3145; fax: +90-212-383-3149. E-mail address: hkaratas@yildiz.edu.tr

1877-0428 © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of the organizing committee of GlobELT 2016 doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.10.055

anxiety has been the topic of a growing body of researches. Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1986), and Young (1992) stated that the psychological construct of foreign language anxiety has many dimensions. The researchers such as Arnold and Brown (1999), and Gardner and MacIntyre (1993) clarified foreign language anxiety might contribute to the feelings of apprehension, nervousness, and worry. But, Chastain (1975) believed anxiety may enhance foreign language performance. Also, Young (1990) found that there is no relationship between anxiety and language proficiency performance. In brief, the relationship between anxiety and foreign language learning was complex.

2. Review of the related literature

2.1. Anxiety and foreign language learning

Harmer (1991) explained some reasons to learn English as a foreign language, for instance, need of advancement in professional life, interest in different cultures, and some other specific purposes. Foreign language learners are expected to become proficient in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, discourse, and language skills at the end of the learning process. Gardner and MacIntyre (1993) specified there is a relationship between the learning of English as a foreign language and the awareness about individual differences, such as the beliefs, attitudes, aptitudes, motivations and affective states of learners. And, language anxiety is defined as one of the individual differences and as an affective state disrupting foreign language achievement. Also, Scovel (1978) defined anxiety as an affective state in which individual perceives danger and feels powerless.

As reported by Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986), language anxiety is a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings and behaviours related to a language learning classroom. Krashen (1982) asserts anxiety might interfere with the process of learning and acquiring a language. Foreign language anxiety has three varieties: communication apprehension, test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation. The first of these occurring in cases where learners lack mature communication skills refers to a fear of getting into real communication with others. The second one is defined as a fear of failing in tests and an unpleasant experience held either consciously or unconsciously by learners in many situations. The last one is observed when foreign language learners feel incapable of making the proper social impression and it is an apprehension towards evaluations by others and avoidance of evaluative situations (Young, 1991).

There are many studies being conducted regarding foreign language anxiety. While some of them indicated learners' beliefs about learning a foreign language, teachers' beliefs about teaching a foreign language, classroom procedures and testing as the main sources of anxiety (Young, 1991), the others showed the level of language course, language skills, motivation, and proficiency as being other factors arousing anxiety (Ellis & Rathbone, 1987; Oxford, 1992; Price, 1991; Sparks & Ganschow, 1991; Young, 1990). But, it can be said prior studies focused on the identification of foreign language anxiety. One of them is the study of Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1986). In order to measure communication apprehension, test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation, they developed the Foreign Language Anxiety Scale (FLAS). According to the results of their study, it was suggested language anxiety is distinct from other types of anxiety.

In Turkey, when the literature is reviewed, it can be seen that related studies conducted are limited. One of these studies was conducted by Dalkilic (2001). It was focused on the relationship between achievement and foreign language anxiety. The findings indicated foreign language anxiety is a significant variable affecting learners' achievement. Also, Batumlu and Erden (2007) examined the relationship between language and anxiety. The results of this study suggested that there is a negative correlation between achievement and anxiety. Yet, it was stated that the proficiency levels of learners and gender do not affect language anxiety. Furthermore, Tuncer and Dogan (2015) made a research so as to identify to what extent the Turkish students' English classroom anxiety affects their academic achievement in English language. And, the findings of the study were revealed that the students' anxiety evolving and ever-increasing during their English prep-education powerfully predicted their academic performance.

Students enter the university with many language related problems despite the continued increasing demand to learn English in Turkey (Dalkilic, 2001). Even though some reasons can be accounted for the students' difficulty in learning English, it is believed reducing negative affective factors such as anxiety is possible to get one step closer to helping the students learn English effectively. They can receive better learning effects in a low-anxiety language

learning environment by understanding the relationship between foreign language learning anxiety and its influencing factors (Kitano, 2001). Hence, this study aimed to explore the following research questions:

1. Is there a significant difference between female and male students in terms of foreign language classroom anxiety?

2. Is there any significant difference in students' foreign language classroom anxiety in terms of receiving English preparatory training?

3. Does difference exist in students' foreign language classroom anxiety between their language levels?

4. Is there a significant relationship between students' foreign language classroom anxiety and the kinds of high school they graduated from?

3. Method

3.1. Participants and setting

The current study was conducted during 2015-2016 academic year with the participation of 320 male (65.6 %) and 168 female (34.4 %) English preparatory students at Istanbul Technical University. All participants took part in the study voluntarily. The distribution of the sample with respect to their receiving English preparatory training, the kind of high schools, and language levels are shown in Table 1.

Table 1. University students participating in the survey by receiving English preparatory training, the kind of high schools, and language levels

Demographic variables f %

Receiving English preparatory training Yes 80 16.39

No 408 83.61

Total 488 100

The kind of high school Anatolian high school 326 66.8

Science high school 95 19.48

Anatolian teacher training high school 47 9.63

Open high school 9 1.84

Vocational high school 11 2.25

Total 488 100

Proficiency level Upper 55 11.27

Intermediate 259 53.07

Pre-intermediate 174 35.65

Total 488 100

3.2. Data collecting instrument

This study is based on survey design. Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale developed by Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1986) and adapted in Turkish by Ay din (2001) was used as the data collection instrument. Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale consists of 32 items for a total. For each item, respondents were asked to rate themselves on a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). The highest point to be obtained in the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale was 165 and the lowest point was 32. And, high score indicates high level of foreign language classroom anxiety.

3.3. Analysis of data

Data acquired by means of the applications of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) was analysed using independent samples t-test, one-way ANOVA and the Scheffe's post-hoc test via SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences) 21.0 software program. The analysis of independent samples t-test was used to define whether there was a significant difference in university students' foreign language classroom anxiety in terms of gender and receiving English preparatory training. Also, the analysis of one-way ANOVA was administered to determine whether there were differences in university students' foreign language classroom anxiety according to their language levels and the kinds of high school they graduated from.

4. Findings

In this section, the data was analysed as it intends to explore gender, language level, receiving English preparatory training, and the kinds of high school they graduated from differences in university students' foreign language classroom anxiety.

Table 2 summarizes the following findings which include descriptive statistics on university students' FLCA.

Table 2. Means, Standard Deviations and Maximum Scores

N Mean Min. Max. Std. D. Std. Er.

FLCA 488 88.67 32.00 157.00 21.19 .96

According to the findings in Table 2, the mean of foreign language classroom anxiety scores of university students is 88.67. And, it can be seen that the students receive the maximum 150 and minimum 32 points. Table 3 shows the students' foreign language classroom anxiety according to their gender.

Table 3. T-test analysis regarding university students' FLCA in terms of gender

Gender N M Std. D. Std. E. t P

Male 320 86.30 22.53 1.74 3.43 .00*

Female 168 93.20 20.09 1.12

* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level

As it is observed in Table 3, it was noticed that female students' foreign language classroom anxiety (M=93.20) is higher than male students' foreign language classroom anxiety (M=86.30). According to this finding, it was observed a significant difference in favour of female teachers (t=3.43, p<.05). Based on the results of t-test analysis in Table 3, it can be said gender is a significant variable on students' FLCA.

Table 4 focuses on the students' FLCA in terms of receiving English preparatory training.

Table 4.T-test analysis regarding university students' FLCA according to receiving English preparatory training

Receiving preparatory training N M Std. D. Std. E. t P

Yes 80 90.67 21.12 2.42 .88 .37*

No 408 88.31 21.20 1.05

* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level

According to the data in Table 4, there was not a statistically significant relationship between FLCA and receiving preparatory training (t=.88; p>.05). The result of t-test demonstrates that receiving preparatory training does not affect the students' foreign language classroom anxiety.

One-way ANOVA test was conducted to find out whether there was a significant difference in the students' FLCA according to the kinds of high school they graduated from and their language level. The descriptive statistics of the students' FLCA according to the kinds of high school are showed in Table 5.

Table 5.The descriptive statistics of the university students' FLCA in respect to the kinds of high school they graduated from

Groups Sum of squares Degrees of freedom Mean F p

FLCA Between groups 1317.42 4 329.35 .73 .57*

Within groups 215701.34 484 450.31

Total 217018.76 488

* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level

As seen in Table 5, it is observed that there is no significant difference in the students' FLCA according to the kinds of high school they graduated from (F=.73; p>.05). The ANOVA test's result indicates that high school differentiation does not affect their foreign language classroom anxiety. It is also supported that there is no differences between groups.

Table 6 displays the descriptive statistics of the students' FLCA in view of their language level.

Table 6. The descriptive statistics of the university students' foreign language classroom anxiety according to their language level

Groups Sum of squares Degrees of freedom Mean F p

FLCA Between groups 4062.01 4 2031.00 4.58 .01*

Within groups 212956.74 484 442.73

Total 217018.76 488

* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level

It can be seen that there is a significant difference in the students' FLCA in terms of their language level (F=4.58; p<. 05) in Table 6. In keeping with this finding, it can be suggested that foreign language level differentiation influences on their foreign language classroom anxiety. Also, it is approved that there are differences between groups.

Based on ANOVA test results, it was concluded that there were significant differences in the students' score of foreign language classroom anxiety according to their foreign language level. The Scheffe's post-hoc test was conducted so as to find out the significant differences from which foreign language levels arise. And, the Scheffe's test results shows there is a significant difference between upper and pre-intermediate levels (p=.01, p<.05) within the students' score of foreign language classroom anxiety.

5. Discussion

In the current study, the students' foreign language classroom anxiety was analysed in terms of gender, language level, receiving English preparatory training, and the kind of high school. One of the findings of the study is that gender is a significant variable on students' foreign language classroom anxiety as the results indicate that female students' have scored higher mean than male students'. According to this, it can be said that male has less anxiety to learn English as a foreign language, which is consistent with the previous researches in this area. For instance, Matsuda and Gobel (2004) stated gender plays an important role in foreign language classroom anxiety. And, their study was revealed that female students have higher levels of anxiety. Also, Cheng (2002) reached the same result with his study. Yet, while the result of the study conducted by in addition to these studies, Elkhafifi (2005) and Rezazadeh and Tavakoli (2009) examined the relationship between gender and foreign language classroom anxiety. And, their studies showed that females had a higher level of foreign language classroom anxiety.

According to another finding of the present study, foreign language classroom anxiety is affected by students' language level. Significant differences were found between upper and pre-intermediate levels in terms of foreign language classroom anxiety. That is to say, students having an upper language level experienced higher anxiety. This result confirms Kitano's (2001) research. He found significant differences in terms of foreign language classroom

anxiety among beginners and advanced college learners. Also, Ewald (2007) made a research on language anxiety in upper-level classes. The results of that research showed advanced students experienced anxiety. An explanation may be the fact that advanced students tend to feel more pressure to do well. They are also more concerned about their relationships with their classmates and instructors, and their own expectations.

Many changes have occurred in technology, science, commerce and communication since the 1950s. This has made it necessary to learn English as a foreign language in Turkey (Yanar, 2008). In order to meet the growing needs of learning English, Anatolian High Schools became to provide training in 1975. In those schools, there were focused on learning English. Yet, in 2005, general high schools were transformed into Anatolian High School (Sahin, 2013) and preparatory classes are removed from high schools. In addition to these, English teaching hours are reduced at Anatolian High Schools, Teacher High Schools, general and vocational high schools (Erguder, 2005). Demirpolat (2015) highlighted that these are considered as adverse effects in terms of quantity of foreign language learning. In spite of these unfavourable changes, in accordance with the current study's results, it was seen that there are no significant differences in the students' foreign language classroom anxiety according to receiving preparatory training and high school differentiation does not affect self-regulation strategies and motivational beliefs.

6. Recommendations

As the findings of the present study take into consideration, some considerations need to be made for future research. First, in order to obtain some qualitative information, the assessment of foreign language classroom anxiety may involve the use of personal diaries for participants. Second, the foreign language classroom which is a very appropriate context to analyse how language learners learn can constrain the learners' linguistic and communicative competence. Because of this reason, further researchers may observe participants in a natural context in terms of foreign language classroom anxiety. Lastly, replication of this study is necessary to see whether the reported findings would be consistent with other populations such as different target languages, different L1 learners, and different language learning contexts as well as with other affective variables.

Acknowledgments

The authors wish to express their sincere appreciation to the students of the School of Foreign Languages at Istanbul Technical University, who assisted in data collection. The authors contributed equally to this article.

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