Anxiety in the EFL Speaking Classrooms

Abstract

There are times in which we can all experience feelings of anxiety when we are verbally
communicating with others. However, anxiousness when speaking aloud is commonly
found within the EFL speaking classroom. This study aims to determine in what forms
this anxiety has been observed by teachers of EFL and experienced by students of EFL,
how it appears to influence and impede the successful production of language, how the
students’ participation is affected and how the classroom and lesson at large appear to be
affected, in English speaking classes in Turkey. In order to determine this, qualitative
semi-structured interviews were used. Five teachers of EFL, who either focused purely on
speaking or who regularly incorporated speaking into their lessons, were interviewed to
learn in what ways they had observed anxiety in students when speaking English and any
further impact this had upon other students and the lesson itself. Furthermore, five
students of EFL with high levels of anxiety when speaking English were interviewed to
learn the effects of anxiety upon them when speaking and how they felt it affected their
ability to communicate. The results of the study showed that teachers observed such
symptoms as visible discomfort and difficulty speaking in students. Students reported
feelings of unease, feelings affecting their self-esteem and bodily sensations associated
with anxiety. Communication was shown to be severely stunted by these feelings and
their effects by reports from both groups. Participation in lessons was found to be
strongly affected by speaking anxiety by both groups, and the speaking anxiety of anxious
students was found to strongly affect other students and the atmosphere of the classroom.

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