ISLAMIC AZAD UNIVERCITY
Thesis for receiving ( M.A ) degree on
Teaching English as a Foreign Language
The Relationship between Language Learning Anxiety, Language Learning Motivation, and Language Proficiency among Iranian Intermediate EFL Learners
Fatemeh Behjat (Ph.D.)
Ali Asghar Kargar (Ph.D.)
In the Name of God
I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor Dr. Behjat for her inspirations, instructive comments, critical remarks, and engagement through the completion process of this thesis. Moreover, I should thank her for inspirations and influences she put on me. I also appreciate her for the countless hours she spent revising, explaining, and reexplaining the content of my thesis. I would also like to express my special thanks to Dr. Kargar, my thessis advisor for his support and advice during conducting this piece of research.
Furthermore, I would like to appreciate my family for all their support during my whole life and especially during my M.A studies. I would like to express my special thanks to my mother. Her prayers for me were what sustained me go on. Also, I like to thank my bothers, Bahram and Ahmad Tahernezhad, who have supported me throughout the entire process of the present job. I will be grateful forever for their love.
Finally, I would like to express my thanks and gratitudes to all those helped me to do this study, especially Mr. Boroumandi who really assissted me in collecting the data and provided me with his ample feedback.
Dedicated to my late father, my dear mom and my brothers, Ahmad and Bahram, who have always supported me in hard times
Table of Contents
Chapter One: IntroductionI
1.2 Statement of the Problem6
1.3 Research Objectives7
1.4 Significance of the Study7
1.6 Operational Definition of Key Terms9
Chapter Two: Review of LiteratureError! Bookmark not defined.11
2.1 Theoretical Framework12
2.1.1 Anxiety by Definition12
18.104.22.168 Types of Anxiety13
22.214.171.124 Sources of Language Learning Anxiety18
126.96.36.199 Language Learning Anxiety and Gender20
2.1.2 Motivation by Definition22
188.8.131.52 Types of Motivation24
184.108.40.206.1 Intrinsic Motivation25
220.127.116.11.2 Extrinsic Motivation26
18.104.22.168 Motivation and Language Learning26
2.1.3 Language Proficiency29
2.2. Empirical Studies Done in the Field30
2.2.1 Anxiety and Language Learning30
2.2.2 Motivation and Language Learning39
2.2.3 Anxiety and Foreign Language Motivation42
2.3 Final Remarks on Literature44
3.3 Data Collection Procedures51
3.4 Data Analysis Procedures53
3.5 Design of the Study54
ChapterFour:ResultsandDiscussionError! Bookmark not defined.55
4.1 Results of the Study56
4.1.1 Participants’ Anxiety Level in Language Classrooms56
4.1.2 Relationship between the Participants’ Level of Anxiety and Motivation60
22.214.171.124 Participants’ Scores on Motivation Questionnaire60
4.1.3 Relationship between the participants’ language proficiency, level of anxiety, and motivation62
126.96.36.199 Participants’ Performance in the Proficiency Test63
188.8.131.52 Relationship Between the Participants’ Language Proficiency & Their Level of Anxiety65
184.108.40.206 Relationship Between the Participants’ Language Proficiency & their motivation67
4.1.4 Gender Differences Concerning Anxiety, Motivation, and Language Proficiency Level of Iranian Intermediate EFL Learners70
220.127.116.11 Relationship between Male and Female Participants’ Language Learning Anxiety and their 18.104.22.168 Motivation, and English Proficiency75
4.2 Discussion of Findings78
Chapter Five: 56Summary, Conclusion, and Pedagogical Implications82
5.3 Pedagogical Implications88
5.5 Limitations of the Study89
Appendix I: Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale101
Appendix II: Attitude/Motivation Test Battery103
Appendix III:English Language Proficiency Test106
List of Tables
4.1 Participants’ Demographic Statistics56
4.2 Descriptive Statistics of the Participants’ Level of Anxiety57
4.3 Anxiety Groups57
4.4 Participants’ Distribution in Anxiety Groups58
4.5 ANOVA Results for Group Differences59
4.6 Descriptive Statistics for Participants’ Motivation60
4.7 Participants’ Motivation in the Anxiety Groups61
4.8 Correlation between Language Learning Anxiety and Motivation61
4.9 Descriptive Statistics for the Participants’ Scores in the proficiency test61
4.10 Male and Female Participants’ Scores in the Proficiency Test61
4.11 Results of Independent Samples t-test for Male and Female Performance in the Proficiency Test64
4.12 Participants’ English Proficiency in the Anxiety Groups65
4.13 Correlation Between Language Learning Anxiety and English Proficiency65
4.14 Motivation Groups67
4.15 Participants’ Distribution in Motivational Groups67
4.16 Participants’ English Proficiency in the Motivational Groups68
4.17 Correlation Between Motivation and English Proficiency69
4.18 Males’ and Females’ Level of Anxiety70
4.19 Independent Samples t-test for Differences in Males and Females’ Level of Anxiety71
4.20 Distribution of Males and Females in Anxiety Groups71
4.21 Males’ and Females’ Motivation72
4.22 Independent Samples t-test for Differences in Males and Females’ Level of Motivation73
4.23 Distribution of Males and Females in Motivational Groups73
4.24 Correlation Between Males’ Anxiety, Motivation, and English Proficiency75
4.25 Correlation Between Females’ Anxiety, Motivation, and English proficiency76
The present study was an attempt to investigate the degree of anxiety among Iranian intermediate EFL learners and its relation to their motivation. It also explored whether there was any significant relationship between anxiety, motivation and language proficiency for Iranian EFL learners. To this end, a total number of 80 EFL learners (35 males and 45 females) were selected through cluster random sampling from two language classes at Islamic Azad University, Sardasht Branch, Hormozgan Province, Iran as the participants in this study. The instruments used to collect the data from the participants were the Foreign Language Learning Anxiety Scale (FLCAS), Gardner’s (1985) Attitude/Motivation Test Battery (AMTB) used to measure the participants’ motivation to learn English, and a modified version of a paper-based TOEFL test that was used to measure the participants’ level of English proficiency. The results indicated that the majority of the participants experienced a mid to high level of language learning anxiety. Besides, it was found that the participants with lower levels of the language learning anxiety were more motivated to learn English while those with higher levels of the language learning anxiety were less motivated to learn English. On the other hand, it was noted that the participants with lower levels of the language learning anxiety were more proficient English learners and vice versa. In addition, there was a positive significant relationship between the participants’ motivation and their English proficiency. However, there was no significant difference between the anxiety level of male and female participants. Similarly, there was no significant difference between the motivation level of male and female participants in this study. Finally, the findings indicated that there was no significant difference between the male and female participants concerning their language learning anxiety, motivation to learn English, and their English proficiency, indicating that gender did not play a determining role in these three variables.
Keywords: Language learning anxiety, Language learning motivation, Language proficiency,
The present chapter includes six parts. The first part presents a background to the study. The second part addresses the statement of the problem followed by research questions in the third part. Then, the significance of the study and research questions are presented, respectively. Definitions of key terms are presented at the end of the chapter.
It is well established that second/foreign language learning is often associated with affective factors, among which the constructs of anxiety and motivation have been recognized as important predictors of second/foreign language performance. Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and apprehension or fear caused by the anticipation of something threatening (Chastain, 1988).
Many researchers believe language anxiety influences language learning. Whereas facilitating anxiety exerts positive effects on learners’ performance, too much anxiety may cause a poor performance (Scovels, 1991). Some of symptoms of anxiety are shown physically as we may feel our heart beating faster and psychologically as we may feel frightened or panicky. We start to have anxious thoughts about the very real possibility of making a complete fool of ourselves and the consequent loss of face as a consequence of this type of anxiety. Nobody likes to be thought of as a failure.
But the real problem with anxiety is that in order to avoid feelings of discomfort, feeling frightened or a sense of failure, we may choose to avoid situations which have the potential to make us discomfort. But the result of avoidance is the gradual loss of our self-esteem (Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope, 1986). Anxiety has been regarded as one of the most important affective factors that can influence second language acquisition. Much research has been conducted to find the relationship between anxiety and achievement in the learning of different foreign languages. Such research has revealed that anxiety can impede foreign language production and achievement (e.g., Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986; MacIntyre& Gardner, 1994). Language anxiety is experienced by learners of both foreign and second language and causes potential problems as it can interfere with the acquisition, retention, and production of the new language (MacIntyre& Gardner, 1991).
Students with all levels of academic achievement and intellectual abilities are believed to be affected by anxiety in language learning contexts. This type of anxiety occurs in varying degrees and is characterized by emotional feelings of worry, fear, and apprehension. It can be experienced differently by different individuals. As students’ progress, abundant pressures, and different anxiety levels might affect them. To facilitate higher levels of performance, Soupon (2004) urges teachers to be aware of the language learning anxiety factor, which can negatively impact the performances of students. Soupon lists the lack of competence as the first reason for anxious students; the second is the lack of proper study skills, and the third is wrong self-perceptions about their capacities.
Krashen (1985) maintained that anxiety inhibits learners’ ability to process incoming language and short-circuits the process of acquisition. An interaction is often hampered by anxiety, task difficulty, and ability which interfere in the input, processing, retrieval, and in the output level. If anxiety impairs cognitive function, students who are anxious may learn less and also may not be able to demonstrate what they have learned. Therefore, they may experience even more failure, which in turn escalates their anxiety. He reported that serious language anxiety may cause other related problems with self-esteem, self-confidence, and risk-taking ability which ultimately hamper gaining proficiency in the second language.
Another important factor as a strong predictor of second/foreign language learning is motivation. According to Gardner, motivation is concerned with the question, “Why does an organism behave as it does?” (Gardner, 1988, p.101). The social psychological perspective on motivation defines motivation as a composite of intensity and orientation which along with attitudes sustain students’ motivation to learn a second language (Belmechri & Hummel, 1998).
Chastain (1988) defines motivation as some incentive that causes the individual to participate in activity leading toward a goal and to preserve it until the goal is reached. Brown (2007) reviewed the definition of motivation based on the three schools of thought: In Behaviorism, motivation is seen as the anticipation of reward. Driven to acquire positive reinforcement and based on our prior experience we repeat a given action to get rewards. On the other hand, Cognitivism sees motivation as choices people make. The forces behind our decisions are the needs or drives. Finally, according to Constructivism; each person is motivated differently and the emphasis is on social context and individual personal choices.
Ausubel (1968) identified six needs for the construct of motivation: the need for exploration, manipulation, activity, stimulation, knowledge, and ego enhancement. According to Gardner and MacIntyre (1993), there is a major distinction between orientation and motivation; orientation refers to reasons or goals for studying a second language while motivation refers to the directed, reinforcing effort to learn the language. Motivation is an issue that is worth being investigated since it demonstrates how successful language learners are. Most teachers and researchers have widely accepted motivation as one of the key factors which influence the rate and the success of foreign/second language learning. Research shows that without sufficient motivation, even individuals with the most remarkable abilities cannot accomplish the long-term goals (Dornyei & Csizer, 1998).
A point that must be emphasized here is the relationship between language learners’ motivation and their foreign language anxiety. For instance, Tanveer (2007) suggested it is intrinsic motivation that usually results in anxiety-breeding situations. Accordingly, learners’ beliefs, perceptions, and poor command of language may lead to a higher level of anxiety. Furthermore, some other extrinsic factors such as social and cultural environments may be the reasons for stressful situations. Other factors such as speaking in front of others were rated as the possible sources of anxiety followed by worries about grammatical mistakes, pronunciation, and being unable to talk spontaneously (Awan, Anwar, & Naz 2010). Accordingly, the present study aims to examine foreign language anxiety of Iranian EFL learners to find out how their anxiety is related to their motivation and their English language proficiency.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
With the increasing number of people who are willing to learn English as a foreign language in Iran, it is really necessary to find out factors which may hinder or negatively affect language learning or on the other hand are beneficial to it. Two of these factors which have not been paid due attention to in our academic setting are the anxiety level of language learners and their motivation. Most teachers are not aware of the fact that their students are not able to fully exhibit their potential because of the stressful situation they are in, or even if they know students’ anxiety, they pay little, if any, attention to it.
Although some teachers acknowledge the need to make the learning process as enjoyable and anxiety-free as possible, they are reluctant to find ways to achieve such a goal, hence being unable to respond to the learning needs of individual students. The anxiety level of Iranian EFL learners as well as their motivational patterns are of paramount importance and thus are needed to be taken into consideration. Therefore, research on language learning anxiety of Iranian EFL students and how it is related to their motivation seems to be of high significance. Accordingly, the present study aims to look at the relationship between anxiety, motivation, and English proficiency among Iranian EFL learners.
1.3 Research Objectives
The present study is conducted in an EFL context in Iran where Iranian learners study English as a foreign language at the intermediate level. Accordingly, the aim of the study is to examine the degree of anxiety among Iranian EFL learners and its relation to their motivation. It also explores whether there is any significant relationship between anxiety, motivation and language proficiency for Iranian EFL learners.
1.4 Significance of the Study
As mentioned earlier, anxiety and motivation are two major factors affecting second/foreign language learning. Given the number of foreign/second language learners in the world, these two issues need further exploration with various groups of learners in different contexts. Targeting Iranian EFL learners, this study strives to examine the construct of foreign language anxiety of a sample of Iranian EFL learners, and how their anxiety is related to their motivation and their English language proficiency.
The results of the present study can be useful for language teachers and professors in that they may gain some insights on their students’ level of anxiety and thus try to employ appropriate techniques to decrease their stress as much as possible and to motivate them to do their best in order to enhance their English language proficiency. Furthermore, the findings of the present study may have implications for language teachers on how male and female EFL learners feel anxious when learning English and therefore help teachers to adopt strategies based on students’ gender differences in order to facilitate language learning process and to motivate them to overcome their anxiety to come up with enhanced learning outcomes.
1.5 Research Questions
The present study aims to answer the following questions:
1. To what extent do Iranian intermediate EFL learners experience anxiety in language classrooms?
2. Is there any relationship between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ level of anxiety and motivation?
3. Is there any significant relationship between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ language proficiency, level of anxiety, and motivation?
4. Is gender a determining factor in the relationship between anxiety, motivation and language proficiency level of Iranian intermediate EFL learners?
Following these research questions, four hypotheses were formed:
1. Iranian intermediate EFL learners do not experience foreign language anxiety in language classrooms.
2. There is no relationship between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ level of anxiety and motivation.
3. There is no relationship between Iranian intermediate EFL learners’ language proficiency, level of anxiety, and motivation.
4. Gender is not a determining factor in the relationship between anxiety, motivation and language proficiency level of Iranian intermediate EFL learners.
1.6 Definition of Key Terms
The present study draws on a number of terms, the definitions of which are provided here to avoid any possible ambiguity.
Language Learning Anxiety: Anxiety has been defined as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003, p. 56). However, anxiety in this study refers to the feeling of worry and fear Iranian EFL learners have in language learning situations when performing a language task such as speaking and listening, fear of making mistakes in language class, or their worry of not understanding what the teacher is saying in the foreign language.
Language Learning Motivation: Following Donryei and Otto (1998, p. 65), Harmer (2007, p. 98) defined motivation as “the dynamically changing cumulative arousal or internal drive in a person that initiates, directs, coordinates, amplifies, terminates, and evaluates the cognitive and motor processes whereby initial wishes and desires are selected, prioritized, operationalized, and successfully or unsuccessfully acted out”. Here the concept of learners’ motivation is operationalized for the sake of the present study as the degree to which Iranian EFL learners invest attention and effort in various activities in order to learn English or enhance their knowledge of English.
Language Proficiency: Language proficiency or linguistic proficiency, according to Council of Chief State School Officers (1992), is generally the ability of an individual to speak or perform in an acquired language. Besides, English language proficiency refers to the ability to use English to ask questions, to understand teachers, and reading materials, to test ideas, and to challenge what is being asked in the classroom. Four language skills contribute to proficiency are reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Accordingly, English proficiency is conceptualized in this study as the level of intermediate learners’ ability in listening, speaking, reading, and writing in English as a foreign language.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
The present chapter consists of two parts. The first part, Theoretical Framework, deals with the concepts and ideas used in the present study. The second part of the chapter presents empirical studies done in the field and reports the findings of previous research on language learning anxiety, motivation, and language proficiency.
2.1 Theoretical Framework
This section deals with the explanation of concepts and theories used in this study including anxiety and language learning anxiety to follow the research objectives and to find answers to research questions.
2.1.1 Anxiety by Definition
Feeling anxious at times is a normal part of life. It can even be helpful when it alerts one to danger. Anxiety becomes a disorder when it occurs frequently, feels intense, lasts hours or even days, and begins to interfere with one’s daily life, like school, work, sleep, and important relationships. But, what is anxiety? Anxiety has been defined as “an abnormal and overwhelming sense of apprehension and fear often marked by physiological signs (as sweating, tension, and increased pulse), by doubt concerning the reality and nature of the threat, and by self-doubt about one’s capacity to cope with it” (Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2003, p. 56). Anxiety is “a future-oriented mood state associated with preparation for possible, upcoming negative events; and fear is an alarm response to present or imminent danger (real or perceived)” (Barlow, 2002, p. 11).
22.214.171.124 Types of Anxiety
Different typologies have been proposed for anxiety. A distinction between state and trait anxiety has become commonplace (Spielberger, 1983). Trait anxiety shows the existence of stable individual differences in the tendency to respond anxiously in the anticipation of threatening situations. In fact, trait anxiety refers to a general level of stress that is most often with an individual as a trait that is related to personality. Trait anxiety varies according to how people have conditioned themselves to respond to stressful situations. For example, what may cause anxiety and stress in one person may not generate any emotion in another. People with high levels of trait anxiety are often quite easily stressed and anxious. On the other hand, state anxiety is defined as an unpleasant emotional arousal in face of threatening demands or dangers. A cognitive appraisal of threat is a prerequisite for the experience of this emotion (Lazarus, 1991). State anxiety is related a state of heightened emotions that is generated in response to a fear or danger of a particular situation. State anxiety may contribute to a degree of physical and mental paralysis, preventing performance of a task or where performance is severely affected such as forgetting some words when speaking in public. In addition, as another type of anxiety, situation-specific anxiety is related to a feeling of worry unique to specific situations and events (Ellis, 1994).
Two concepts of anxiety that are more associated with learning and language learning are facilitating and debilitating anxiety. The first one, facilitating anxiety, is described as a positive force which may lead the student to become even more motivated for language learning. In this case, the learner deals with a task in a more rational way. Not all language researchers will call this feeling anxiety. Some people prefer calling it attention (Young, 1992). By contrast, debilitating anxiety motivates the learner to avoid the language task, and it leads him to adopt avoidance behaviors (Alpert & Haber, 1960). According to Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986), highly anxious learners avoid expressing complex messages in the foreign language or they take more time to learn vocabulary items. And though anxious students tend to over-study, their course grades often do not reflect that effort (Price, 1991).
126.96.36.199 Language Learning Anxiety
Second/foreign language learning can sometimes be a terrible experience for many learners. The number of students who suffer from language learning anxiety is numorous. According to Worde (1998), one third to one half of learners have reported they experience detrimental levels of language anxiety. Various aspects of language learning have been focused on by studies of anxiety such as language outcomes, rate of second language acquisition, performance in language classrooms, and performance in high-stakes language testing (Zheng, 2008).
Language anxiety can be refered to as the fear or apprehension that happens when a learner is expected to perform in the second or foreign language (Gardner & MacIntyre, 1993) or the worry and negative emotional reaction when learning or using a second language (MacIntyre, 1999). In the same way, Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope (1986) defined foreign language anxiety as a “distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors related to classroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process” (p. 31). Language anxiety has been seen as a negative psychological factor in the language learning process by many of the researchers who have considered its impact on language learners.
Somtimes language anxiety has been defined as “possibly the affective factor that most pervasively obstructs the learning process” (Arnold and Brown, 1999, p. 8), a negative energy that affects the brain, our short-term memory, and hence our ability to hold words and ideas long enough on this creative table so to speak in order to mould them into suitably communicative sentences or utterances. Besides, in some cases, we may be unable to find the words. One of effects of anxiety is to lessen our ability to produce and, therefore, create linguistically. Perhaps the most well-known metaphor used to show learners’ negative reactions to language learning is Krashen’s (1987) ‘affective filter’, an imaginary barrier which is operates when learners feel threatened by, disinclined to engage with or emotionally unreceptive to the language input available to them. On the other hand, if learners are relaxed and motivated, this barrier will be lowered and the language input would more likely to be attended to and acquired.
An important question is whether language anxiety is always negative or not. Some researchers have challenged the idea that anxiety is always a negative factor. Indeed, some have pointed to the potential benefits of anxiety (Mathews, 1996). For instance, an experience that most of us may have is to write under pressure. Sometimes it seems we are capable of writing more effectively and creatively when we have to complete a deadline and have little time in which to complete it. On the other hand, the more time we have at our disposal, the more ineffective and uninspiring our writing seems to be. Besides, more often we may leave things until another day until tension and anxiety to reach to the necessary levels in order to force us into action. When it comes to speaking, anxiety may actually push us on to greater effort and fluency. And many of us may have experienced a feeling of being nervous and tense before speaking and this nervousness has reflected in stuttering, false starts, and inaccurate pronunciation. These two types of anxiety, one a negative force, the other a positive one, have been referred to as ‘debilitating’ and ‘facilitating’ anxiety in the literature. The positive anxiety pushes one forward, motivates, and helps while the negative anxiety weakens one to resolve, creates doubts, and encourages one to run away and debilitates.
Different learners may experiences variuos levels of anxiety. For instance, introverts are more likely to experience anxiety than extraverts (Brown, Robson, & Rosenkjar, 2001). Introverts usually prefer individual work more than group work so they may easily become anxious if they are put in more communication-oriented classroom settings. In contrast, extraverts may feel anxious if they have to work on their own all the time. In addition, According to McCroskey (1984), even at higher levels of proficiency, many students may experience some level of fear and anxiety when asked to communicate, especially in public.
Language learning anxiety may be demonstrated by languge learners in various ways. Generaaly, foreign language anxiety has three varieties: communication apprehension, test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation. Communication apprehension is a feeling of discomfort when communicating. More specifically, such apprehension occureswhere learners lack mature communication skills although they have mature ideas and thoughts. In fact, it refers to a fear of getting into real communication with others. Communication apprehension occurs in a variety of settings in both native language and second language and results in negative outcomes for both speakers and listeners. As such, communication apprehension must be addressed by language teachers, especially teachers who are teaching second or foreign languages because learners who already experience some level of communication apprehension in their native language will face more anxiety when speaking a foreign or second language, such as English (Schlenker & Leary, 1982).Test anxiety, on the other hand, is an apprehension towards academic evaluation. It could be defined as a fear of failing in tests and an unpleasant feeling experienced either consciously or unconsciously by learners in many situations. This type of anxiety relates to apprehension towards academic evaluation which is based on a fear of failure. Finally,fear of negative evaluation happens 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 (Horwitz and Young, 1991).
188.8.131.52 Sources of Language Learning Anxiety
Language learning anxiety may have different sources. Chan and Wu (2004) identified five major sources of foreign language anxiety among elementary school children. These sources are an anxious personality, fear of negative evaluation, low language proficiency, competitive games, and pressure from parents and self. Similarly, the primary sources of language anxiety, explicated by Horwitz et al. (1986), are communication apprehension, fear of negative evaluation, and test anxiety. Subaşı (2010) observed that the main sources of the Turkish EFL Students’ anxiety in oral practice are students’ fear of negative evaluation, thier self-perceived speaking ability, personal reasons, teachers’ manners, teaching procedures, and previous experience.
According to Daly (1991), genetic disposition, early reinforcements and punishments, early communication skills, and exposure to appropriate model of communication are possible factors for language anxiety. In a study by Wörde (1998), the participants reported that non-comprehension, the pace and the risk of being singled out in speaking activities, the limited time devoted to teaching and instructional practices, the risk of being humiliated through error correction, and the presence of native speakers could make them more anxious than usual.
Young (1991) in a review of the previous research has summarized six possible sources of second language anxiety: (1) personal and interpersonal issues, (2) instructor-learner interactions, (3) classroom procedures, (4) language testing, (5) instructor beliefs about language learning, and (6) learner beliefs about language learning.
Woodrow (2006) makes a distinction between in-class and out-of-class anxiety, pointing out that communication with teachers and performing in front of a class are the major contributors to language anxiety in speaking classes. In particular, giving oral presentations, role-play in front of class, contribution to formal discussions, answering teacher questions, and informally speaking teachers have been reported as major reasons for learners’ in-class anxiety.
In addition, Tanveer (2007) suggested that the learner’s self in particular that usually result in anxiety-breeding situations. Accordingly, learners’ beliefs, perceptions, and poor command of language could lead to a higher level of anxiety. Furthermore, some other extrinsic factors such as social and cultural environments may be the reasons for stressful situations. Other factors such as speaking in front of others was rated as the biggest cause of anxiety followed by worries about grammatical mistakes, pronunciation, and being unable to talk spontaneously (Awan et al., 2010).
Finally, important causes of anxiety among ESL/EFL learners in China in a study by Tseng (2012) were pressure by parents and teachers to get good grades at school in English, lack of confidence in students’ ability to learn English, fear of making mistakes and subsequent punishment or ostracism, i.e., fear of losing face for not being perfect, and conditioning in childhood to believe that English is an extremely difficult. Shabani (2012) observed that the prime sources of language anxiety and fear of negative evaluation among Iranian EFL Learners are fear of failing class and fear of leaving unfavorable impression on others, respectively.
184.108.40.206 Language Learning Anxiety and Gender
Gender is a significant variable in language learning process and has important theoretical and pedagogical implications in second and foreign language learning. Besides, research results on language anxiety and gender provide further insights about individualized instruction based on the gender differences in language learning settings. The significance of language learning anxiety has made researchers perform many studies in terms of different variables, especially gender. Padilla, Cervantes, Maldonado, and García (1988) focused on foreign language anxiety and gender and observed that female learners are more concerned about language complications than male learners and that they are more anxious and worried than male students.
Campbell and Shaw (1994) showed a significant interaction between gender and foreign language anxiety in the sense that male students were more anxiety-ridden in using a foreign language in the classroom than their female counterparts after a certain amount of instruction in that foreign language. Kitano (2001) investigated students from two U.S. universities who were enrolled in Japanese courses. The results indicated that male students’ anxiety levels were negatively correlated with their self-perceived ability to perform various tasks in spoken Japanese, whereas female students did not show this tendency.
In addition, in a study performed by AyashEzzi (2012) about gender impact on the foreign language anxiety among Yemeni University Students , it was found that both male and female students had a high level of foreign language anxiety but female-students’ anxiety was higher than that of male students. On the contrary, Awan et al., (2010) found that female students are less anxious in learning English as a foreign language than male students.
Mesri (2012) investigated the relationship between EFL learners’ Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety (FLCA) and gender. The data were gathered through the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986) from 52 students studying English at Salmas University. The findings indicted that there was a significant relationship between FLCA and gender. It was also noted that Iranian female EFL learners have scored higher mean in all anxiety categories than male learners so Iranian EFL context male had less anxiety to learn English. Based on this finding, it was recommended that foreign language teachers should be aware of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety (FLCA) level, its causes and results. Similarly, Murlidharan and Sharma (1971) found that females were more anxious than males when it comes to reading comprehension in the sense those male students with lower levels of anxiety had better reading ability while female students with higher levels of anxiety had lower reading ability.
Nahavandi and Mukundan (2013) explored the level of anxiety of 548 Iranian EFL students towards English as a foreign language to find out whether anxiety domains differed across different first languages, proficiency levels, and gender. The results indicated that students experienced anxiety in all four scales of communication apprehension, test anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, and fear of English classes. In addition, communication anxiety was found to be the predominant anxiety component in the students, as compared to other three scales. The results also suggested that gender and first language did not affect their anxiety significantly. However, level of proficiency affected the participants’ anxiety in all four domains significantly.
2.1.2 Motivation by Definition
Merriam Webbster Dictionary defines motivation as “a: the act or process of motivatig, b: the condition of being motivated, c: amotivating force, stimulus, or influence” (p. 810). Harmer (2007, p. 98) defined motivation as “the dynamically changing cumulative arousal or internal drive in a person that initiates, directs, coordinates, amplifies, terminates, and evaluates the cognitive and motor processes”. Through this drive, initial wishes and desires are selected, prioritized, operationalized, and successfully or unsuccessfully acted out.
Motivation has also been defined as “some kind of internal drive which pushes someone to do things in order to achieve something” (Harmer, 2001, p. 51). As stated by Brown (1994, p. 152), motivation is a term that is used to define the success or the failure of any complex task. Steers and Porter (1991, p. 6) considers three matters while discussing motivation:
• What energizes human behavior;
• What directs or channels such behavior, and
• how this behavior is maintained or sustained.
Motivation is thought to be responsible for “why people decide to do something, how long they are willing to sustain the activity, and how hard they are going to pursue it (Dörnyei, 2001, p. 8). Ryan and Deci (2000a, p. 54) state that “to be motivated means to be moved to do something”. Unlike unmotivated people who have lost impetus and inspiration to act, motivated people are energized and activated to the end of a task. “Interest, curiosity, or a desire to achieve” (Williams and Burden, 1997, p. 111) are the key factors that compose motivated people. However, they argue that arousing interest is not enough to be motivated but the interest should be sustained. In addition, time and energy should be invested, and the effect which is required needs to be maintained so as to reach a desired goal. According to Steers and Porter (1991, p 6), motivation can be characterized as follows: needs or expectations, behavior, goals, andsome form of feedback.
Trang and Baldauf (2007) found that several factors affect Vietnamese students’ motivation. One of these important factors was getting good marks. In fact, two of three students considered gaining good marks as an important factor for their motivation. Another factor found to affect students to motivate was the fulfillment of teacher expectation. In addition, the feedback provided by their teachers about the work affects their motivation. In other words, students were more motivated if their teachers check their work and provide explicitly feedback about their weakness and strengths. Moreover, teaching techniques was another important factor affecting students to be motivated for learning. Topics especially those related to daily life were considered as another source of motivation. Last but not least was linguistic need of student that may affect their motivation to study more.
According to Gardner (2010), motivation is a construct that is difficult to define, but he identifies characteristics that motivated individuals show. Gardner believes motivated individuals express effort in achieving one’s goals, show persistence, attend to the tasks necessary to achieve the goals, have a strong willingness to attain their goals, enjoy the activities necessary to achieve such goals, are aroused in pursuing their goals, and have expectancies about their successes or failures. He points out when these individuals are achieving some degree of success, they demonstrate self-efficacy, and they are self-confident about their achievements. They have reasons for their behavior which are often called motives.
220.127.116.11 Types of Motivation
Self-Determination Theory (SDT) is a motivation theory developed in the field of psychology (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Because of its comprehensive perspective on human motivation, the theory has been used in different research fields such as education (Reeve, 2002) and second language acquisition (Noels, Clement, &Pelletier, 2001). The theory conceptualized two main types of motivation called intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation; each was assumed to be related to each other along with the self-determination continuum. The following sections elaborates on the types of motivation.
18.104.22.168.1 Intrinsic Motivation
According to SDT, intrinsic motivation is a fully autonomous type of motivation with a “prototypical form of self-determination” (Deci& Ryan, 1985, p. 253); thus, this type of motivation is placed on the extreme, self-determined side. SDT further explains the feature of intrinsic motivation by the following exemplification; if one is intrinsically motivated toward a certain activity, he or she is expected to engage in it “with a full sense of choice, with the experience of doing what one wants, and without the feeling of coercion or compulsion” (p. 253). In other words, intrinsically motivated behaviors seem to be fully supported by one’s own self, and thus, they are fully self-determined (Deci& Ryan, 1985). It is also important to note that previous studies conceptualized three subtypes of intrinsic motivation based on hypothesized causes to enhance the sense of choice or self-determination; intrinsic motivation for knowledge, intrinsic motivation for accomplishment, and intrinsic motivation for stimulation. However, the research shows intrinsically motivated students an L2 because of the inherent pleasure in doing so; they are expected to maintain their effort and engagement in the L2 learning process, even when no external rewards are provided to them (Noels, Clėment, & Pelletier, 2001).
22.214.171.124.2 Extrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic motivation refers to the desire to learn a second/foreign language because of some pressure or reward from the social environment, such as career advancement or a course credit, internalized reasons for learning an L2, such as guilt or shame, and/or personal decisions to do so and its value for the chosen goals (Noels, Clėment, & Pelletier, 2001).
SDT has addressed extrinsic motivation in terms of the four subtypes: external regulation, interjected regulation, identified regulation, and integrated regulation. These four types were categorized based on the quality or amount of internalization process which is a hypothesized psychological process where people actively change their behavioral regulations from externally forced regulation to self-regulation that is endorsed by the self (Deci, Ryan & Williams, 1996; Rigby, Deci, Patrick, & Ryan, 1992; Ryan &Deci, 2000). In other words, perceived sense of self-determination accompanying each of the four types is seen to increase from external regulation to integrated regulation (Ryan & Deci, 2000).
126.96.36.199 Motivation and Language Learning
According to Oxford and Shearin (1996), foreign/second language motivation is active and personal involvement in foreign or second language learning. They suggest that as unmotivated students are insufficiently involved, they are unable to develop their language skills to the full potential. Besides, Gardner and Lambert (1959) maintain that motivation is of the instrumental or integrative nature. Integrative motivation is seen as a desire to communicate and become similar to members of the L2 community. On the other hand, instrumental motivation is the desire to learn the L2 for pragmatic gains such as getting a better job. They also found thatthose students who were integratively motivated benefited more from practice opportunities, provided more answers in the classroom voluntarily, were more precise in responses, and were generally more successful language learners.
The importance of motivation in enhancing second/foreign language learning is undeniable. Lifrieri (2005, p. 4) points out that “when asked about the factors which influence individual levels of success in any activity – such as language learning –, most people would certainly mention motivation among them”. According to Brown (2000), language learners with the proper motivationwill be successful in learning a second language. Similarly, Gardner (2006, p. 241) states that “students with higher levels of motivation will do better than students with lower levels”. He also believes that if a person is motivated, he/she has reasons for