Exploring the link between language anxiety and learner self-management in open language learning contexts

Hauck, Mirjam and Hurd, Stella (2005). Exploring the link between language anxiety and learner self-management in open language learning contexts. European Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 2005(2)

URL: http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2005/Mirja...


The Department of Languages at the Open University/UK was set up in 1991 and presented its first course in French for lower intermediate learners[1] in 1995. Intensive course production over a number of years has resulted in a portfolio of courses from beginner to degree level in French, German and Spanish. Language learning resources are varied and include print, video and audio materials as well as ICT components such as, for example, course websites. All students are individually assigned a tutor who advises on learning, marks coursework and holds tutorials. Until recently all tutorials took place face-to-face in the Open University's regional centres throughout the UK and Continental Western Europe, but since 2002 tutorials for some courses have been conducted online using Lyceum, an Internet-based conferencing system originally developed by the university's Knowledge Media Institute which provides multiple synchronous audio channels as well as synchronous text chat and several shared graphic interfaces (for a more detailed description of the tool see Hauck & Hampel, 2005). As a result of the continuing success of this tutorial mode the Department of Languages now offers a choice of face-to-face or Lyceum-based tuition to all students.

This paper seeks to enhance our understanding of the interrelationship between affective issues, language anxiety in particular, and successful learner self-management in these learning environments. The findings are based on two phenomenographic studies, with the first one on language anxiety prompting the second one which explores the role of successful learner self-management. After some background information about the Open University's approach to distance education in general and the Department of Languages' approach to teaching languages at a distance in particular, this article looks at the theory underpinning the phenomena of language anxiety and learner self-management. This is followed by a presentation of the aforementioned studies, a discussion of their results and some preliminary conclusions.

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