Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety - PRAXIS Project Report

Barkanyi, Zsuzsanna; Brash, Baerbel and Kotschi, Susan (2022). Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety - PRAXIS Project Report. The Open University.


The present research aims to examine the role of learner age and mental health conditions on Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety (FLSA) by answering three research questions: (i) what the main worries of our students are when speaking a foreign language in general and communicating in synchronous online tutorials and asynchronous speaking activities; (ii) to what extent age/level of study/languages spoken and mental health conditions impact on FLSA; and (iii) what individual strategies and interventions work to mitigate FLSA. A mixed methods research design used quantitative and qualitative data gathered from self-reflective questionnaires with closed and open-ended questions and focus groups sessions with students and tutors. Our preliminary results reveal that the main fears for students with declared mental health conditions (MH) differ from those students who have no additional requirements (NR), although both groups experience FLSA to the same extent. While MH students feel that their self-image is threatened when they have to speak in their target language, NR students are more worried about inadequate performance when speaking in the target language. FLSA and the main worries do not seem to be related to age. Although spoken interactions are not face-to-face in this learning context, apprehension and anxiety prevent many students from fully participating in tutorials as well as asynchronous speaking activities. Furthermore, false beliefs about the value (or lack of it) of non-native speakers and peers deprive students from valuable oral practice.

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