Anecdotes of oral performance among first year English language university students
AuthorZabitgil Gülseren, Özlem
MetadataShow full item record
CitationZabitgil Gülseren, Ö. (2018). Anecdotes of Oral Performance among First Year English Language University Students. In Educational Sciences Research in the Globalizing World (pp. 74–82). St. Kliment Ohridski University Press. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4603362
Anxiety in the Oral English Context Learner anxiety gained significant attention as an affective variable in second language research since 1970s. Several studies indicate that “learners” affective domain does matter in the learning and teaching process” (Alico, 2015). There are different types and degrees of learner anxiety. This research focuses on the types of anxiety that generates in the face of oral performance when students are asked to perform in the target language (English). Speaking is one of the most challenging areas for language learners especially at the early stages of the language development. Many language learners experience language anxiety (Horwitz, 1986; Horwitz et al., 1986; Young, 1986; Liu, 2006). “Research in speech communication also suggests anxiety can affect an individual’s performance” (Young, 1986, p. 440). Some learners exhibit their language learning challenges whereas some others keep quiet, show no response or may look negligent to the untrained eye. In this case, instructors may wrongly categorize these learners as uncaring and may give up on them. It is necessary to understand that anxiety is a complex concept. It can appear in a variety of ways and forms. “…research into the relationship of anxiety to foreign language learning has provided mixed and confusing results… suggesting that anxiety itself is neither a simple nor well-understood psychological construct” (Scovel, 1978, p.132). This dilemma is partially solved as researchers have now consensus that a little bit of anxiety is claimed to boost the learning energy which assists the learning process whereas higher levels of anxiety impedes the learning process. Learners in different cultural contexts suffer from detrimental consequences of anxiety in language classrooms. Awan, Azher, Awan and Naz (2010) state that anxiety is a state of fear, panic and worry. Learner anxiety should be noticed by instructors and alleviating steps should be taken because unnoticed or ignored anxiety lowers learner performance. Young (1986) highlighted the effects of anxiety on second language oral production by noting that “…anxiety could materially affect an individual’s avoidance behavior and the quality of language input” (p. 440) in language classroom. Also, Liu (2006) found in a Chinese educational context that one third of the Chinese students were anxious in an Oral Communication class. Also, Wu (2010) found in a U.S. secondary school context that as many as one third of students expressed anxiety in a foreign language class. These studies as well as others indicate that foreign language anxiety is not experienced only in specific geographical locations pointing to the global significance of this topic. Researchers agree that anxiety can be experienced by anyone who attempts to learn a new language. According to Clement, Gardner and Smythe (1997) high levels of anxiety can take one in a psychologically aroused position where the individual feels a constant state of apprehension and worry. Performance anxiety in L2 is a more common experience than previously acknowledged. Striving students sometimes cannot reach their best potential because of the interference of anxiety in their learning process. This research discusses the characteristics of anxious students as it appears in the oral and written expressions of 1st year 2nd semester university students who major in English Language Teaching. Instructor observations, instructor-learner interactions, and oral & written anecdotes of learners provide a closer understanding of the anxiety experience of language learners and consequences of anxiety in the learning process. Some practical applications are experimented in the language class. Results of the study imply pedagogical possibilities and further research for educators and researchers.