Anxiety and Willingness to
• Anxiety in foreign languages is the same anxiety
experienced in other contexts such as a music
performance, interviews and tests
• “Some individuals report experiencing intense feelings of
apprehension, tension and even fear when they think
about foreign languages” (Ortega, 2009;p200).
• There are many symptoms of anxiety but the two most
common are freezing up and blanking.
Symptoms of Anxiety
• Freezing up is when, in the case of a foreign language, a learner is
unable to make utterances due to the immense anxiety that they feel
and are unable to communicate.
• This can occur in many contexts such as public speaking, contests,
interviews or even in front of peers.
• Blanking is when what the learner wants to communicate cannot
produce what they want to even when the learner has the knowledge
of what they want to produce.
• This may happen in such situations as tests and various
• The vast majority of us have experienced freezing up and blanking in
various contexts, not just language.
How to Measure Anxiety
• Horwitz et al (1986) developed the Foreign Language
Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS).
• It consists of 33 statements about production of and
attitude to foreign language learning that are measured on
a five point scale of how strongly the learner agrees with
See an example on the following slide.
How to Measure Anxiety
• MacIntyre and Gardner (1994) developed the Input,
Processing and Output Anxiety Scales (IPOAS).
• It consists of 18 statements that focus on the anxiety
caused at the input, processing and output stages.
• Input via listening or reading, processing via
comprehension and meaning, and output via speaking or
Anxiety and Performance
• Learners that have low-anxiety levels usually perform
better than learners that have high-anxiety levels.
• “…high, debilitating levels of anxiety do interfere with
academic achievement in foreign language
classes…[and can result in] slower speed in their
learning and processing…underestimate their true L2
competence and…engage in risk-avoiding
behaviours…” (Ortega, 2009; p201)
Reasons for Anxiety
• There are many reasons for why learners have anxiety when
studying a foreign language.
• Low self-esteem was found to be one factor of anxiety by
Onwuegbuzie et al. (1999). When students feel pressure to
perform in the L2, lack of confidence can contribute to anxiety
and L2 performance.
• Horowitz (1988; 2000) contributed the sense of failure to high-
levels of anxiety. For example when students learn a new word
but can’t reproduce it perfectly, either through spelling or
pronunciation students become stressed. This perfectionist
attitude can sometimes have a negative effect.
• Anxiety can lead to learners freezing and blanking when
using the L2.
• Two methods that are used to measure anxiety are the
FLCAS and the IPOAS.
• High-anxiety can result in lower production and
achievement in the L2, whilst low-anxiety can result in
higher production and achievement.
• Self-esteem, confidence, pressure and perfectionist
attitudes can all contribute to the levels of anxiety a
student may feel.
• WTC : Willingness to Communicate
• Anxiety has been studied under WTC construct in the field
of communication in the 1980s and was imported into SLA
a decade later by Canadian researchers (Clement and
MacIntyre) (Ortega 2009 p2002)
• WTC in the L1 is associated to a complex of personality
sub-traits such as introversion, shyness, apprehension of
communication and reticence.
WTC and L2
• WTC in the L2 is independent from WTC in the L1 (Baker
and MacIntyre, 2000)
• Communicative Confidence in the L2 contributes greatly
to WTC in the L2.
• According to Clement, L2 communicative confidence can
be measured by how relaxed or nervous they are (anxiety,
an affective variable ) and how competent or incompetent
they feel (self-perceived competence, a cognitive self-
Anxiety, Competence and L2 Frequency
• Positive or negative feelings of anxiety and competence
are related to the frequency and quality of past L2 contact.
• Communicative anxiety and self-perceived confidence
are shaped by past experiences through contacts with L2
speakers and both contribute to the degree of L2
• Speakers in a high-use L2 environment have developed
higher communicative competence and have successful
experiences. Therefore, any slight negative experience
has a great impact.
Willingness to Communicate in a
The Japanese EFL Context, Yashada
• This study examined the relationships among L2 learning and
L2 communication variables using the WTC model and the
socio-educational model (the relationships among attitudes,
motivation, and achievement) as a framework.
• The participants were 377 Japanese students majoring in
information science at a coeducational university in Osaka.
They were freshmen who had selected English among seven
choices as their primary foreign language to study. (269 or
71.4% males, 107 or 28.4% females, and 1 unknown).
L2 communication model used to
investigate the relations among the
Some important conclusions
• Merely having motivation does not seem to be sufficient for an
individual’s being willing to communicate; he or she needs to
have confidence in his or her L2 communication.
• As expected, attitude toward intercultural communication or
international interest directly influenced WTC in the L2. Such
individuals are also more motivated to study English, and this
motivation, in turn, contributes to proficiency and confidence in
• In order to encourage students to be more willing to
communicate in English, EFL lessons should be designed to
enhance students’ interest in different cultures and international
affairs and activities, as well as to reduce anxiety and build
confidence in communication.