Lesson 3: Anxiety

Sources of Anxiety

Why do some people feel anxious when speaking a new language? As noted in Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986), FLA possibly results when people don't feel like themselves when speaking the other language. Witty people are not able to be as amusing; warm people cannot express their caring and empathy, etc. And most people sound less intelligent than they really are or think they are when speaking the second language. Language classes are typically more public and more personal than classes in other subject matters. Many of the lessons in this program have encouraged you to plan communicative lessons where students talk about their personal feelings and experiences. When language teachers ask students to talk about themselves in front of their classmates, we are putting them in an especially vulnerable position.

A number of studies (see Horwitz, Tallon, & Luo, 2009) have suggested that about a third of language students experience some foreign language anxiety. Some of these students experience mild anxiety, while some can experience truly debilitating levels of anxiety.


Learners can't present self in different language.

Duration: 03:20

Do feel like yourself when you speak a second language? If you make compromises between what you want to say and what you know you will be able to articulate, does that bother you?

If you are a non-native speaker of your target language, do you have concerns about your target language proficiency?

Although some language learners are always anxious, some language teaching practices promote anxiety. Imagine that your language teacher asked you to share something personal in the target language, and just as you were getting to the important part, he or she interrupted you to correct a grammatical error.

When thinking about anxiety in conjunction with other learner characteristics, it is important to remember that anxiety can cause learners to withdraw from language study. To avoid feeling anxious, they may fail to do homework or even skip class. Thus, it is very important to consider that students who appear unmotivated may be experiencing FLA.


Correcting the learner.

Duration: 01:40