Anxiety is said to be one of the factors that could affect the process of learning, and researchers such as MacIntyre, MacIntyre and Gardner claim that language courses are very anxiety-provoking. Horwitz (1986) comments that self-consciousness and anxiety of the language learner is caused by the mismatch between mature thought and immature foreign and second language proficiency. The dysporic effect of apprehension may intensify as language learners regard using the second language as a test rather than a means of communication. Studies have also shown that students utilizing productive skills, namely writing and speaking, are found to experience a considerable amount of anxiety in the process of learning (Hilleson, 1996; Zhang, 2001). The issue to be addressed is whether anxiety is a cause or a consequence of poor achievement in second or foreign language learning.
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Anxiety is a psychological and physiological state characterized by somatic, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components. The root meaning of the word anxiety is ‘to vex or trouble’; in either the absence or presence of psychological stress, anxiety can create feelings of fear, worry, uneasiness and dread. Anxiety is considered to be a normal reaction to stress. It may help a person to deal with a difficult situation by prompting one to cope with it. When anxiety becomes excessive, it may fall under the classification of an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is a generalized mood condition that can often occur without an identifiable triggering stimulus. As such, it is distinguished from fear, which is an emotional response to a perceived threat. Additionally, fear is related to the specific behaviors of escape and avoidance, whereas anxiety is related to situations perceived as uncontrollable or unavoidable. An alternative view defines anxiety as “a future-oriented mood state in which one is ready or prepared to attempt to cope with upcoming negative events”, suggesting that it is a distinction between future vs. present dangers which divides anxiety and fear.
I’m moderate anxious about my English compare to my major subject antrophology-sosiology because I’m not fluently in my oral English. Most of students experienced performance anxiety when they need to perform in front of the class. When they feel nervous they may hesitate or stumble or simply look uncomfortable and become silent. In other words, anxious students feel a deep self consciousness when asked to risk revealing themselves by speaking the second language in the presence of other people. Beside that, I feel nervous when I have to speak without preparation and felt very conscious about speaking in English in front of other students. While doing my presentation, I become so conscious about the facial expressions of other students and the teacher. If I notice they looked bored or confused, I feel my face blushed and go to a panic, and what is worse, I forget everything I have planned to say. Beside that, more time have been taken in order to understand and prepared for some English exercise or assignment.
English is the language of international communication and it is widely used in Malaysia. It is anticipated that with the trend of globalization, this country will face more stiff competition from other foreign countries. Thus, Malaysian students should be well equipped with a solid education foundation and in training to remain competitive; including the ability to communicate in English. As a second most important language in Malaysia, English is extensively used in education system from the primary up to tertiary level. It is also widely used in various professions such as the medical, engineering, legal and business. Therefore, it is very crucial for Malaysian students to be proficient in English so that they can use the language efficiently for academic purposes and later in professional setting.
Most of students have problem in speaking in the English class. I also have a same problem. It can be more stressful when I have to speak in the English before the fluency is achieved. Speaking can cause high anxiety level and the reason for this is that teachers often expect beginners to perform beyond their acquire competence. In early stages, the teacher force learners to break the silent period before they are ready and they have to use aspects of language that they have not yet subconsciously acquired. As a result, learners will show poor speaking performance because they are not competent in using the target language.
A student who believes that one must never say anything in English until it can be said correctly will probably avoid speaking most of the time. Indeed, some learners prefer to keep quiet during
English lesson because they are reluctant to speak in English. Anxious learners tend to think about negative evaluations from other people and the situation becomes worse if they cannot control their anxiety. In order to overcome this problem, teachers should make learning context less stressful for students and use suitable teaching methods that can help learners to minimize their anxiety feelings in second language classroom.
The numerous and various sources for my anxiety, likes speaking activities, inability to comprehend, and test anxiety. The sources of anxiety often were intertwined, causing difficulty in teasing out a discrete factor or source. The following discusses the most frequently cited anxiety-generating factors. The inability to comprehend what was being said in the classroom provoked considerable anxiety. Many complained that the teacher spoke much too fast, or refused to use any English at all which resulted in an inability to keep up during class, and consequently carried over into the homework assignments. Young (1992) also noted that listening might generate anxiety if it were “incomprehensible”.
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The fear of communicating orally and public speaking anxiety has long been accepted psychological phenomena. Daly (1991) noted that the fear of giving a speech in public exceeded even such phobias as fear of snakes, elevators, and heights. Whereas those with public speaking concerns have only to perform, language learners have a dual task. They must not only learn the new language but perform in it as well. I don’t want to be the focus of attention so that my errors are put on display. Students are very self-conscious when they are required to engage in speaking activities that expose their inadequacies, and these feelings often lead to “fear, or even panic”. Students were sensitive to both peer and teacher evaluation of their speaking. Additionally, a few seemed to project negative thoughts on to the teacher. I will feel frustrated when the teacher thought I didn’t know anything when she really did. I also feel overwhelmed and anxious when speaking, perhaps due to an immature vocabulary or limited grammatical knowledge.
Most of the student feared taking tests, because test-taking situations would make them anxious about the negative consequences of getting a bad grade. This would lead to other psychological stresses, such as the fear of losing self-confidence or feeling inferior to others. In addition, they said they sometimes felt pressured to think that they had to organize their ideas in a short period of time (e.g., essay exams) while caring about grammar errors at the same time. Some of them expressed such anxious feelings. The more I prepared for the exam, the more confused I got with so many things going on in my head. How could I organize my ideas in English in such a limited time! But if I couldn’t make it in time, my efforts would be totally ruined.
Motivation, effort, and English proficiency have significant influence on the learning strategies and levels of anxiety. For my case, I’m using my opportunity as a leader trying to speak English with my entire subordinate at my working place. I’m very motivated to learn, but we also suffer from frustration sometimes. In summary, a less anxious learning environment will be very helpful to me. I usually watch movie spoken in English on TV after work. I try not to look at the Malay translation, because I want to put myself in an entire English-only environment. On the one hand, I may use it to increase my listening comprehension; on the other hand, I treat it as a relief from pressure after work. Besides, I love to think in English and talk to my friends in English. I feel that the more time I expose myself, the less anxious I will feel. I consciously learn new English words every day, because it will be very helpful when I read English magazines or listen to English songs. I feel more and more confident and less and less anxious because I use the target language every day.
Anxiety commonly has been influenced by the Malaysian socio-cultural norms or expectations that they acquired through their socialization processes in Malaysia. Levels of anxiety actually depending on the individually different attributes, likes personality differences, age differences, different proficiency levels, or different types of motivation toward language learning. Indeed, each of these individual differences can independently constitute another potential source of language anxiety (Williams & Burden, 1997), but it seems more appropriate to view them as a set of dependent variables that might influence the actual formation of student anxiety. For example, learner beliefs about language learning can be better viewed as one of the composite variables influenced by many other different factors or variables, such as culture, personality, learning styles, motivation/ attitudes toward learning, proficiency levels etc. The same is also true for the Young’s (1991) category of personal and interpersonal anxieties. However, it should also be noted that this broadly inclusive categorization could potentially conceal the real nature of student anxiety.
In my opinion, this is probably one of the worst mental disorders that someone can have, because it is so misunderstood and misdiagnosed. What makes the situation even more difficult is the fact that the disorder does not just come and go like other disorders, a person is faced with it everyday of their life, every time they have to go out anywhere or are put in a situation where people are involved. They have to deal with this all the time, until they are treated. Unfortunately, most people do not know that they are afflicted with it, and, without some kind of formal education, knowledge, or treatment, social anxiety continues to ruin their lives. And if they finally do try to seek help, chances are that they will not find. This is the reality for over 15 million Americans, but yet there is very little being done in the way of trying to help them realize that they are not just shy or introverted, they really have a problem. Hopefully, one day, this disorder will be researched and understood more.
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