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Public Speaking Anxiety for ESL Students

Info: 3660 words (15 pages) Essay
Published: 26th Jul 2018 in Communications

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Findings

The purpose of this research is to determine the primary factors of public speaking anxiety and speaking English as a second language amongst students from LG221 and LG241. Besides that, to check upon the gender differences between these students when it comes to public speaking anxiety, whether gender differences have an impact towards the level of public speaking anxiety. Last but not least to find out the relationship between students’ public speaking anxiety as well as fears for negative evaluation by their peers and educators. Upon completion of both the questionnaires, the data was tabulated and analyzed by calculating the mean values in order to obtain needed information. In addition to finding the connection between students’ public speaking anxiety together with their fears for negative evaluation, Karl Pearson’s correlation method is used.

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Result

Figure 4.0 illustrate the demographic data of this research. Samples for this research consist of students of Bachelor of Applied Language Studies (Hons.) Malay Language for Professional Communication, also known as LG221 and LG241 of MARA University of Technology (UiTM), Shah Alam. Participants are at the ranging of 20 to 24 years old. The total numbers of participants are 50 students consisting of 27 male and 23 female.

Figure 4.0

Factors of Public Speaking Anxiety (PSA)

To determine the underlying factors behind both male and female students public speaking anxiety, factor analysis was accomplished on the of the 34 item in the PRPSA questionnaires. All 34 items are then characterized onto six different factors that are related to making public speaking. These six factors are as followed:

  1. Positive speaking perceptions.
  2. Emotional effects of speech anxiety.
  3. Physical effects of speech anxiety.
  4. Lack of preparation.
  5. Feeling vulnerable.
  6. Perfectionist.

Out of 34 items in PRPSA, 12 items are put into the first factor which was labelled positive speaking perception (Factor 1). Items loading on this factor pertained to the positive feeling a person has during the preparation and actual speech presentation. Students with this kind of attitude tend to have little or no problem when giving a speech.

Besides that, six items are put into the second factor which was labelled emotional effect of speech anxiety (Factor 2). Items loading on this factor pertained to the supposed emotional consequences a person feels during the preparation of the speech, as well as when asked to give a speech.

The third factor is labelled physical effects of speech anxiety (Factor 3) with six items loaded into it that pertained to the supposed physical consequences a person feels during the preparation of the speech.

The fourth factor is labelled lack of preparation (Factor 4) and is loaded with three items from PRPSA. These three items pertained to the perceived consequences of insufficient speech preparation.

Meanwhile, the fifth factor is labelled vulnerability (Factor 5) with four items put into it. Items loading on this factor pertained to the perceived feeling of helplessness during the preparation of the speech.

Lastly, the sixth factor is labelled perfectionist (Factor 6) with three items from the PRPSA that pertained to the supposed consequences of being perfectionist.

The mean value of each items scored by both male and female students as well as the total mean value were calculated to check upon the real reason to the occurrence of public speaking anxiety amongst students as well as to distinguish the differences in public speaking anxiety between the two gender as shown in Table 4.0.

Table 4.0

Items

Mean Value

Female

Male

Total

Factor 1 : Positive speaking perception

 

S4. Right after giving a speech in English, I feel that I have had a pleasant experience.

4.48

3.91

4.22

S6. I have no fear of giving a speech in English.

2.96

2.57

2.78

S7. Although I am nervous just before starting a speech, I soon settle down after starting and feel calm and comfortable.

3.59

3.65

3.62

S8. I look forward to giving a speech.

3.37

3.13

3.26

S11. I feel relaxed while giving a speech.

3.19

2.52

2.88

S12. I enjoy preparing for a speech.

3.30

3.13

3.22

S15. I face the prospect of giving a speech with confidence.

3.37

3.74

3.54

S16. I feel that I am in complete possession of myself while giving a speech.

3.56

3.17

3.30

S17. My mind is clear when giving a speech.

3.41

3.13

3.28

S18. I do not dread giving a speech.

3.52

3.09

3.32

S24. While giving a speech, I know I can control my feelings of tension and stress.

3.74

3.39

3.58

S26. I feel comfortable and relaxed in the hour or so just before giving a speech.

3.26

2.83

3.06

     

3.34

Factor 2: Emotional effects of speech anxiety.

     

S5. I get anxious when I think about a speech coming up.

3.48

3.87

3.66

S13. I am in constant fear of forgetting what I prepared to say.

3.52

3.48

3.50

S14. I get anxious if someone asks me something about my topic that I don’t know.

3.52

3.78

3.64

S27. I do poorer on speeches because I am anxious.

2.78

3.65

3.18

S33. I feel anxious while waiting to give my speech.

3.37

3.83

3.58

S34. While giving a speech, I get so nervous I forget facts I really know.

3.48

3.70

3.58

     

3.52

Factor 3: Physical effects of speech anxiety.

     

S19. I perspire just before starting a speech.

2.22

2.65

2.42

S20. My heart beats very fast just as I start a speech.

2.74

3.39

3.04

S21. I experience considerable anxiety while sitting in the room just before my speech starts.

3.19

3.61

3.38

S22. Certain parts of my body feel very tense and rigid while giving a speech.

2.44

2.83

2.62

S25. I breathe faster just before starting a speech.

2.85

2.96

2.90

S32. My heart beats very fast while I present a speech.

2.82

3.22

3.00

     

2.89

Factor 4: Lack of preparation

     

S3. My thoughts become confused and jumbled when I am giving a speech.

3.04

3.43

3.22

S10. My hands tremble when I am giving a speech.

2.41

3.00

2.68

S28. I feel anxious when the teacher announces the date of a speaking assignment.

2.48

3.35

2.88

     

2.93

Factor 5: Feeling vulnerable

     

S1. While preparing for giving a speech, I feel tense and nervous.

3.33

3.78

3.54

S2. I feel tense when I see the words “speech” and “public speech” on a course outline when studying.

2.89

3.61

3.22

S30. During an important speech I experience a feeling of helplessness building up inside me.

3.07

2.87

2.98

S31. I have trouble falling asleep the night before a speech.

2.30

2.65

2.46

     

3.05

Factor 6: Perfectionist

     

S9. When the instructor announces a speaking assignment in class, I can feel myself getting tense.

2.67

3.52

3.06

S23. Realizing that only a little time remains in a speech makes me very tense and anxious.

2.89

3.44

3.20

S29. When I make a mistake while giving a speech, I find it hard to concentrate on the parts that follow.

3.04

3.22

3.12

     

3.13

Within these six factors of the PRPSA that has been characterized, the factor Emotional effects of speech anxiety scored the highest with a mean of 3.52. Although the result is moderate, it still shows that most students tend to have public speaking anxiety because they have a sense of nervousness together with uneasiness when giving a speech and this can negatively affect students’ speech by making them seem unsure about what they are saying.

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The next factor resulting in students’ public speaking anxiety is Perfectionist with a mean of 3.13. Students who are considered themselves perfectionists tend to have a tendency to set standards that are so high that they either cannot be met, or are only met with great difficulty. Perfectionists tend to believe that anything short of perfection is horrible, and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe.

This is followed by the third factor which is Vulnerability. Factor vulnerability scored a mean of 3.13. This factor shows that students think about an upcoming encounter negatively and may intensify feelings of anticipatory anxiety associated with the encounter. Besides that, speakers’ will also have depressive thoughts about their speech and this may contribute to public speaking anxiety before, during, and after a speech performance which lead to them believing they will not succeed when giving a speech.

Factor Lack of preparation is found to be factor number four with a mean of 2.93. The level of preparation determines the level of students’ success in giving speeches. Most students hardly prepare enough for their speeches. This is often because they do not start their preparation early as to why they resort to a last minute approach, which then lead to them feeling unprepared and unready for a speech.

The final factor that leads to students having public speaking anxiety is Physical effects of speech anxiety with a mean of 2.89. Speech anxiety can overwhelm the senses, the thoughts, as well as the body. Some of the common symptoms of speech anxiety include shaking, sweating, butterflies in the stomach, dry mouth, rapid heartbeat, and squeaky voice.

The first factor which is Positive perceptions towards speech anxiety is not an underlying factor to students’ public speaking anxiety. This factor is actually the opposite of it. Positive perceptions towards speech anxiety factor scored a mean of 3.34. This proves that students’ public speaking anxiety is not that serious. However these students need improvement as it is hinted that students are still not that keen towards the importance of English speech proficiencies. More importantly, it is known that the students still felt uncomfortable and unsure of their own potentials and that that they are still not capable of handling themselves during speeches.

Gender Differences in Public Speaking Anxiety

On the other hand, to determine whether there is a difference in public speaking anxiety between male and female student, the mean value for PRPSA of each gender is distinguished. Results are as shown in Table 4.1.

Table 4.1

Variable

Mean Value

Female

Male

PRPSA

106.11

105.91

The above table revealed that although both male and female students fell in the moderate level of PRPSA, female students tend to have a higher public speaking anxiety level as their mean value is bigger as compared to the male students.

On Figure 4.1, it can be seen on which aspects students, whether male or female, face their difficulties when giving a speech. This figure is based on the factors that have been deducted from PRPSA.

Figure 4.1

Despite the female students monopolizing all factors, there are some items from PRPSA that the male students scored higher mean values as compared to the female students. Examples of these items include;

Statement 13:

“I am in constant fear of forgetting what I prepared to say.”

From the statement above, 28 out of 50 students agreed to it with 16 of them being male students. It can be concluded that male students experienced more anxiety compared to male respondents in terms of forgetting to say things they know even though the result is quite similar.

Statement 30:

“During an important speech I experience a feeling of helplessness building up inside me.”

On the hand, 17 out of 50 students agreed to statement above with 10 of them being males students while the other 7 are female students. In this statement, it can be said that the male students can still be nervous and more anxious compared to the female students.

For the gender differences in public speaking anxiety, it can be indicated that both male and female students are equally anxious when involve in giving speeches although the male students show less significant anxiety as compared to the female students.

Correlation between Public Speaking Anxiety and Fear of Negative Feedback

In order to determine the correlation between two variables and they are students’ public speaking anxiety together with their fears of negative feedback, Karl Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient method is being used.

Karl Pearson’s Correlation Coefficient

In statistics, the Pearson product-moment correlation coefficient (r) is a common measure of the correlation between two variables X and Y. When measured in a population the Pearson Product Moment correlation is designated by the Greek letter rho (ρ). Whilst computed in a sample, it is designated by the letter “r” and is sometimes called “Pearson’s r.” Pearson’s correlation reflects the degree of linear relationship between two variables. It ranges from +1 to -1. A correlation of +1 means that there is a perfect positive linear relationship between variables whereas a correlation of -1 means that there is a perfect negative linear relationship between variables. A correlation of 0 means there is no linear relationship between the two variables. Correlations are rarely if ever 0, 1, or -1. The result of the correlation could indicate whether correlations are negative or positive.

Mathematical Formula:–

The quantity r, called the linear correlation coefficient, measures the strength and the direction of a linear relationship between two variables. The linear correlation coefficient is sometimes referred to as the Pearson product moment correlation coefficient in honour of its developer Karl Pearson.

The mathematical formula for computing r is:

http://mathbits.com/MathBits/TISection/Statistics2/IntroS7.gif

n = number of pairs of scores

∑xy = sum of the product of paired scores

∑x = sum of the x scores

∑y = sum of the y scores

∑x² = sum of squared x scores

∑y² = sum of squared y scores

The strength and significance of the coefficient.

The following general categories indicate a quick way of interpreting a calculated r value:

0.0 to 0.2

Very weak to negligible correlation

0.2 to 0.4

Weak, low correlation (not very significant)

0.4 to 0.7

Moderate correlation

0.7 to 0.9

Strong, high correlation

0.9 to 1.0

Very strong correlation

Results for the relationship between public speaking anxiety and fear of negative feedback were displayed in a graphical representation Figure 4.2. From the table 4.2, it can be seen that the result showed a weak correlation between the students’ public speaking anxiety and their fear of negative evaluation as it only scored 0.256. This proves that the relationship between two variables is weak and not very significant.

Table 4.2

Variables

Mean Value

Correlation

PRPSA

106.02

0.256401632

FNE

51.1

Figure 4.2

The mean value for fear of negative evaluation score was 51.5. This demonstrates that the average for fear of negative evaluation level is in moderate level. However, out of 50 students that answered the questionnaire, 9 students fell on the high level for fear of negative evaluation, 27 students are on the moderate level while the remaining 14 students have low level for fear of negative evaluation as illustrated in Figure 4.3.

Figure 4.3

The students average anxiety level also fell on the moderate level that is at mean value 106.02. From the 50 students that answered the questionnaire, none of the students fell in highly active category. Meanwhile, 94% of the students are in the moderate category while the remaining 6% are in the low category. This can be illustrated as shown in Figure 4.4.

Figure 4.4

 

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