Reducing learners language anxiety bridging the gap between research and practice

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Reducing Learners’ Language Anxiety: Bridging the Gap between Research and Practice by Angelica Galante Brock University Copyright Galante, Angelica (2010) This work is the intellectual property of the author Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the author To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the author AGENDA  Warm-up: Have you ever heard these comments?  Defining language anxiety  What research on language anxiety suggest  Talking about students’ fears: BALLI and FLCAS  Bridging the gap: activities that reduce language anxiety levels  Oral evaluation  Case studies analysis  Conclusion  References Have you ever heard these comments? Warming-up  “I sweat every time I have to speak English with a native speaker”  “I hate speaking English in front of the class”  “My heart starts beating faster every time my teacher asks me a question”  “I am ashamed of speaking English because of my accent”  “I always feel that other students are more at ease to speak than me”  “I get upset that I just cannot verbalize what I’m thinking”  “People might think I’m stupid because I can’t express my thoughts in English” Affective variables Defining language anxiety Language anxiety → Situationspecific Research on language anxiety Research on language anxiety (Philips, 1999; MacIntyre, 1999; Arnold & Brown, 1999; Dornyei, 2005; Woodrow, 2006) has repeatedly shown that it has a negative impact on L2 learners’ performance, especially during speaking practices Talking about students’ fears Talking about students’ fears Beliefs About Language Learning Inventory (BALLI) designed by Elaine K Horwitz (1987) used to generate classroom discussion about the language learning process E.g.: Some people have a special ability for learning foreign languages 12345 Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) designed by Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope (1986) used to identify students who are mostly likely to suffer from language anxiety related to speaking L2 E.g.: I tremble when I know that I'm going to be called on in language class Strongly agree Agree Neither agree nor disagree Disagree Strongly disagree Activities that reduce language anxiety levels Conversation gambits “Oh, really?” “Sorry, I don’t get it.” “Say that again, please.” “It’s a beautiful day, eh?” “By the way, …” “Actually, …” “Are you serious?” “No kidding!” “You know what I mean?” helps learners carry on a more ‘natural’ conversation and help build a sense of community in the classroom by the use of common communicative vocabulary Cued response Activity: Imagine your plans for this weekend Decide whether you’re going to these activities Add more of your own if you like Wake up early: Have dinner out: Meet friends: Watch a movie: Add more: “I’m going to wake up early on Saturday” “I’m not going to have diner out.” “I’m going to meet my friends” “I’m going to watch a movie” “I’m not going to work this weekend…” helps learners, especially in the early stages of learning, to alleviate the frustration that occurs when they have to focus both on meaning and on form Information Gap Activity: Find out where the international students come from and in which countries they lived and traveled in Student A Name comes from Mariette Belgium Fahrid Kofi Quebec lived in Student B travele d in Name Germany Mariette USA Fahrid Manitoba Kofi comes from lived in travele d in Spain Morocco Algeria Colombi a helps learners to build a sense of community The final product was built as a team, rather than individual answers Interviews and surveys Activity: Find someone who a stayed at home Saturday b saw a good film last week c went out last night d didn’t sleep well last night e arrived on time for class today helps learners have a great deal of practice, which lowers L2 oral anxiety Improvising dialogues Activity: In pairs, students receive two lines of a dialogue They work together and come up with a possible dialogue They are allowed some time to rehearse it before presenting it to the class E.g.: I never thought I’d be in a situation like this! Who said I liked apples? helps learners work cooperatively with peers; gives them an opportunity to rehearse their speech; allows them to get used to presenting in front of other students; if an element of comedy is introduced it helps break the ice Oral evaluation Helping lower students’ level of anxiety during oral tests  Provide students’ with ample opportunities for oral practice in class  Use the same types of activities students have practiced in class  Test students’ in pairs or small groups  Role-plays are excellent tools for evaluating communicative competence  Humorous role-play could be incorporated into the testing situation  Teachers need to re-evaluate the evaluation instrument itself: test communicative competence and not only accuracy  Students’ test anxiety may be lower if they are aware that their communicative competence will be rewarded Case studies analysis Case 1: Kim’s a 13 year-old from Korea studying ESL in Canada She rarely makes oral contributions in class as she says she prefers to listen She once told the teacher that she starts to panic when she has to speak without any preparation in class Case 2: Luis is a 42 year-old from Colombia studying EFL in his country He is a successful manager in a multinational company and wants to be able to speak English fluently with his clients However, Luis is very shy and feels “stupid” when he speaks in front of his peers Case 3: Sonya is a 35 year-old woman who has recently immigrated to Canada from Poland She wants to learn English so she can work as a nurse She’s attending a LINC course (level 1) and every time the teacher asks Sonya to make contributions in the class, she starts sweating and trembling She also says she’s afraid of speaking English with native speakers Conclusion Concluding…  Teachers are encouraged to be aware of students’ anxiety about language learning to better help them manage their anxiety  Activities that help learners cooperate and depend on their peers foster an environment conducive to the development of community  Learners feel more at ease and willing to be engaged in oral activities if there is a more relaxing environment in the class  Maintaining the development of communicative competence is a tool to help learners lower their level of anxiety Provide students’ with ample opportunities for oral practice in class  Providing the opportunity for learners to face their “fears” is more important than simply “protecting them from speaking in L2” References Arnold, J & Brown, H (1999) Introduction: A map of the terrain In Arnold, J (Ed.) Affect in Language Learning (pp 1-24) New York: Cambridge University Press Dornyei, Z (2005) The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Horwitz, E K., Horwitz, M B., & Cope, J (1986) Foreign language classroom anxiety The Modern Language Journal, 70(2), 125‐132 Horwitz, E K (1987) Surveying student beliefs about language learning In A Wenden & J Rubin (Eds.), Learner strategies in language learning (pp 119–129) Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall MacIntyre, P D (1999) Language anxiety: a review of the research for language teachers In Young, D (Ed.) Affect in Foreign Language and Second Language Learning: A Practical Guide to Creating a Low Anxiety Classroom Atmosphere (pp 24-45) Boston: McGraw- Hill Phillips, E.M (1999) Decreasing Language Anxiety: Practical techniques for oral activities In D.J Young (Ed.), Affect in foreign language and second language learning: A practical guide to creating a low anxiety classroom atmosphere (pp 124–143) Boston: McGraw-Hill Woodrow, L (2006) Anxiety and speaking English as a second language RELC Journal, [...]... sweating and trembling She also says she’s afraid of speaking English with native speakers Conclusion Concluding…  Teachers are encouraged to be aware of students’ anxiety about language learning to better help them manage their anxiety  Activities that help learners cooperate and depend on their peers foster an environment conducive to the development of community  Learners feel more at ease and willing... be engaged in oral activities if there is a more relaxing environment in the class  Maintaining the development of communicative competence is a tool to help learners lower their level of anxiety Provide students’ with ample opportunities for oral practice in class  Providing the opportunity for learners to face their “fears” is more important than simply “protecting them from speaking in L2” References... (1987) Surveying student beliefs about language learning In A Wenden & J Rubin (Eds.), Learner strategies in language learning (pp 119–129) Englewood Cliffs, NY: Prentice Hall MacIntyre, P D (1999) Language anxiety: a review of the research for language teachers In Young, D (Ed.) Affect in Foreign Language and Second Language Learning: A Practical Guide to Creating a Low Anxiety Classroom Atmosphere (pp... (1999) Introduction: A map of the terrain In Arnold, J (Ed.) Affect in Language Learning (pp 1-24) New York: Cambridge University Press Dornyei, Z (2005) The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition Mahwah, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Horwitz, E K., Horwitz, M B., & Cope, J (1986) Foreign language classroom anxiety The Modern Language Journal, 70(2),... lines of a dialogue They work together and come up with a possible dialogue They are allowed some time to rehearse it before presenting it to the class E.g.: I never thought I’d be in a situation like this! Who said I liked apples? helps learners work cooperatively with peers; gives them an opportunity to rehearse their speech; allows them to get used to presenting in front of other students; if an... 24-45) Boston: McGraw- Hill Phillips, E.M (1999) Decreasing Language Anxiety: Practical techniques for oral activities In D.J Young (Ed.), Affect in foreign language and second language learning: A practical guide to creating a low anxiety classroom atmosphere (pp 124–143) Boston: McGraw-Hill Woodrow, L (2006) Anxiety and speaking English as a second language RELC Journal, ... occurs when they have to focus both on meaning and on form Information Gap Activity: Find out where the international students come from and in which countries they lived and traveled in Student A Name comes from Mariette Belgium Fahrid Kofi Quebec lived in Student B travele d in Name Germany Mariette USA Fahrid Manitoba Kofi comes from lived in travele d in Spain Morocco Algeria Colombi a helps learners. ..Activities that reduce language anxiety levels Conversation gambits “Oh, really?” “Sorry, I don’t get it.” “Say that again, please.” “It’s a beautiful day, eh?” “By the way, …” “Actually, …” “Are you serious?” “No kidding!” “You know what I mean?” helps learners carry on a more ‘natural’ conversation and help build a sense of community in the classroom by the use of common communicative vocabulary... helps break the ice Oral evaluation Helping lower students’ level of anxiety during oral tests  Provide students’ with ample opportunities for oral practice in class  Use the same types of activities students have practiced in class  Test students’ in pairs or small groups  Role-plays are excellent tools for evaluating communicative competence  Humorous role-play could be incorporated into the testing... to re-evaluate the evaluation instrument itself: test communicative competence and not only accuracy  Students’ test anxiety may be lower if they are aware that their communicative competence will be rewarded Case studies analysis Case 1: Kim’s a 13 year-old from Korea studying ESL in Canada She rarely makes oral contributions in class as she says she prefers to listen She once told the teacher that
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