Is language anxiety the cause of poor achievement?

How many times did we feel uncomfortable speaking a foreign language in front of people we hardly knew? Language anxiety might influence our performance.

Language anxiety

Language anxiety

In between the motivation and personality factors, seems to be situated foreign language anxiety. The anxiety construct is a very complex issue and extensive research has been carried out, resulting in the identification of a trait anxiety related to the individual’s personality and a state anxiety which is assumed to be a specific type of anxiety experienced in the foreign language classroom Horwitz (2001). The key issue surrounding this type of anxiety, is whether state anxiety is the cause of poor achievement, or the result. A study of Sparks, Ganschow and Javorsky (2000), claims that success in foreign language learning is mainly depending on the language aptitude factor and anxiety in L2 learners is a consequence of their learning difficulties. On the other hand, Horwitz vigorously argues that anxiety is also experienced by advanced and successful learners and, therefore, is not a consequence of learning difficulties in every L2 learner. A number of studies focusing on the impact of state anxiety on L2 learning, have found that anxiety is negatively related to L2 and additional language attainment; however, it would be too simplistic to assume that lower levels of anxiety would bring about successful L2 and additional language learning.

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