Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety of Arab learners of English: The effect of personality, linguistic and sociobiographical variables

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Jean-Marc Dewaele
Taghreed M. Al-Saraj


The present study focuses on the link between psychological, sociobiographical and linguistic variables and Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety of 348 Arabic learners of English (250 females, 98 males). Data were collected using the Arabic Foreign Language Anxiety Questionnaire (AFLAQ; Al-Saraj, 2011, 2014) and an Arabic version of the Multicultural Personality Questionnaire-Short Form (MPQ-SF; van der Zee, van Oudenhoven, Ponterotto & Fietzer, 2013). Multiple regression analyses revealed that self-perceived proficiency in oral English and frequency of use of English explained over a third of variance in FLCA: More proficient and frequent users felt less anxious. Two personality traits, Emotional Stability and Social Initiative explained a further fifth of variance in FLCA, with emotionally stable and more extraverted participants scoring lower on FLCA. Age was the final predictor of a small amount of variance, with older participants feeling less anxious. Degree of multilingualism, sex and education level had no effect on FLCA.


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Author Biographies

Jean-Marc Dewaele, Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication, Birkbeck, University of London. 26 Russell Square, London WC1B5DT Dewaele is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. He does research on individual differences in psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic, pragmatic, psychological and emotional aspects of second language acquisition and multilingualism. He has published over 150 papers and chapters, and a monograph Emotions in Multiple Languages in 2010 (2nd ed. in 2013, Palgrave Macmillan). He is Vice-President of the International Association of Multilingualism, former president of the European Second Language Association and General Editor of the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. He is father of a trilingual daughter and holds a black belt in Go Kan Ryu karate.

Taghreed M. Al-Saraj, Berkeley Language Center, University of California, B-40 Dwinelle Hall, Berkeley, California 94720

t.alsaraj@aol.comTaghreed M. Al-Saraj is a Saudi Arabian researcher in applied linguistics. She received her doctorate degree from UCL Institute of Education in 2011, and she is currently a post-doctorate fellow at University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on individual differences in foreign language learning, and in particular on foreign language anxiety (FLA) in the Arab culture. Her recent book The Anxious Language Learner: A Saudi Woman’s Story (2015, Educate Right) became a bestseller on Amazon and #1 in the hottest new release category. In the book, Dr. Al-Saraj became a subject of her own research and became a language learner of Turkish to see for herself if she would too experience foreign language anxiety as well as see for herself how FLA affects the language learning process.


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