Language Anxiety and Learner Performance at Examinations

S. S. Pereira


Learning a second language which could be identified as a dire need in thistwenty first century, can be a very complex and a challenging experience for many. Itcan be a “profoundly unsettling psychological proposition” (Guiora, 1983 cited inHorwitz et al, 1986:127-128 cited in Tanveer, M 2007). Termed language anxiety, thisfear and nervousness attached to language learning is conceptualized by Horwitz et al as“a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviours related toclassroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learningprocesses”. Language anxiety which is a psychological construct is a complexmultidimensional phenomenon. In the current literature it is often studied in threecomponents: communication apprehension, test anxiety and fear of negative evaluation.

This paper primarily aims to investigate whether language anxiety is anaffective variable in learning English as a second language. It also seeks to explore thisphenomenon and assess whether it has an impact upon the students‟ performance atwritten tests on English. The methodology employed will be both quantitative andqualitative as it involves both a statistical analysis and a descriptive analysis. Thesample consists of 100 grade eleven students of an urban school and the data collectedthrough the questionnaire will be triangulated with the data collected from the semistructured interviews with the subjects.

Key words: Second language, Affective variables, Language anxiety, Communicationapprehension

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