Ways to Identify Language Anxiety

Teacher and researchers might sometimes be able to infer language anxiety through tests of general anxiety. Behaviors vary across cultures, and what might seem like anxious behavior in one culture might be normal behavior in another culture. The following are the signs of language anxiety.

  • general avoidance: `forgetting` the answer, showing carelessness, cutting class, coming late, arriving unprepared, low levels of verbal production, lack of volunteering in class, seeming inability to answer even the simplest questions.
  • Physical actions: squirming, fidgeting, playing with hair or clothing, nervously touching objects, stuttering or stammering, displaying jittery behavior, being unable to reproduce the sounds of intonation of the target language even after repeated practice.

  • Physical symptoms: complaining about a headache, experiencing tight muscles, feeling unexplained pain or tension in any part of the body.
  • Other signs which might reflect language anxiety, depending on the culture: over-studying, perfectionism, social avoidance, conversational withdrawal, lack of eye contact, hostility, monosyllabic or noncommittal responses, image protection or masking behaviors(exaggerated smile, laughing, nodding, joking), failing to interrupt when it would be natural to do so, excessive competitiveness, excessive self-effacement and selfcriticism (`I am so stupid`).


Learners’ Personality and Attitudes Towards Learning

  1. Self-esteem: is a self-judgment of worth and value, based on feelings of efficacy, a sense of interacting effectively with one’s own environment. Among those highly anxious language students, those with high selfesteem might handle their anxiety better than those with low self-esteem, resulting in better performance.
  2. Introversion: extroverts are often stereotyped as being out-going and talkative and, therefore, better language learners, since they are more likely participate openly in the classroom and seek out opportunities to practice.

    Introverts, might be considered less apt language learners, since they seem to be too reserved, too self-restrained. Students who are shy of socializing and take others’ evaluation serious are more highly anxious.

Students who are able to tolerate moderate levels of confusion and more risk-taking are lowly anxious than perfection-seeking students. Because language is arbitrary, there is no necessary connection among words, meaning and pronunciation. Language is full of ambiguity, which needs students to take risks during the process of learning to guess the meaning. Students who seek accuracy and perfection have higher level of anxiety.

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