The link between Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety, Second Language Tolerance of Ambiguity and Self-rated English proficiency among Chinese learners

Main Article Content

Jean-Marc Dewaele
Tsui Shan Ip

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that high levels of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety (FLCA) have a negative effect on foreign language learning (Horwitz, 2001; Lu & Liu, 2011) while moderate levels of Second Language Tolerance of Ambiguity (SLTA) are believed to boost foreign language learning (Ely, 1995). There is prima facie evidence that both dimensions are inversely related as Foreign Language Learning contexts are full of ambiguities which may contribute to anxiety. However, the relationship between FLCA and SLTA has been under-researched. The present study is an attempt to fill this gap by investigating the link between SLTA and FLCA in English of 73 secondary school students in Hong Kong. They filled out an online questionnaire consisting of the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986) and the Second Language Tolerance of Ambiguity Scale (Ely, 1995). Statistical analyses revealed that FLCA, SLTA and Self-rated English proficiency predict half of the variance in each other; in other words, students who were more tolerant of second language ambiguity were less anxious in their EFL classes and they also felt more proficient.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
Dewaele, J.-M., & Ip, T. S. (2013). The link between Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety, Second Language Tolerance of Ambiguity and Self-rated English proficiency among Chinese learners. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 3(1), 47-66. https://doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2013.3.1.3
Section
Articles
Author Biographies

Jean-Marc Dewaele, Birbeck College, University of London

j.dewaele@bbk.ac.uk

Jean-Marc Dewaele is Professor of Applied Linguistics and Multilingualism at Birkbeck College, University of London, UK. He investigates individual differences in SLA and multilingualism. He has published several edited volumes and a monograph Emotions in Multiple Languages (2010). He is former president of the European Second Language Association. He became General Editor of  The International Journal of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education in 2013.

Tsui Shan Ip, Birkbeck College, University of London

tsip@ied.edu.hk

Tsui Shan Ip obtained her MA in the Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is currently living and working in Hong Kong.

References

  1. Arnold, J. & Fonseca, C. (2007). Affect in teacher talk. In B. Tomlinson (Ed.),Language acquisition and development (pp. 107-121). London: Continuum.
  2. Bochner, S. (1965). Defining intolerance of ambiguity. Psychological Record, 15, 393-400.
  3. Budner, S. N. Y. (1962). Intolerance of ambiguity as a personality variable. Journal of Personality, 30, 29-50.
  4. Chapelle, C. & Roberts, C. (1986). Ambiguity tolerance and field independence as predictors of proficiency in English as a second language. Language Learning, 36, 27-45.
  5. Clément, R. & Wen, W. P. (2003). A Chinese conceptualisation of Willingness to Communicate in ESL. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 16, 18-38.
  6. Derakshan, N. & Eysenck, M. W. (2009). Anxiety, processing efficiency, and cognitive performance: New developments from attentional control theory. European Psychologist, 14, 168-176.
  7. Dewaele, J.-M. (2007). The effect of multilingualism, sociobiographical and situational factors on communicative anxiety and foreign language anxiety of mature language learners. The International Journal of Bilingualism, 11, 391-410.
  8. Dewaele, J.-M. (2010a). Emotions in multiple languages. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  9. Dewaele, J.-M. (2010b). Multilingualism and affordances: Variation in self-perceived communicative competence and communicative anxiety in French L1, L2, L3 and L4. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 48, 105-129.
  10. Dewaele, J.-M. (in press). The link between Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety and Psychoticism, Extraversion, and Neuroticism among adult bi-and multilinguals. The Modern Language Journal, 97(3).
  11. Dewaele, J.-M. & Li Wei (2013). Is multilingualism linked to a higher tolerance of ambiguity? Bilingualism: Language & Cognition, 16, 231-240.
  12. Dewaele, J.-M., Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2008). The effects of trait emotional intelligence and sociobiographical variables on communicative anxiety and foreign language anxiety among adult multilinguals: A review and empirical investigation. Language Learning, 58, 911-960.
  13. Dewaele, J.-M. & Thirtle, H. (2009). Why do some young learners drop Foreign Languages? A focus on learner-internal variables. International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, 12, 635-649.
  14. Doughty, C. J., Campbell, S. G., Mislevy, M. A., Bunting, M. F., Bowles, A. R. & Koeth, J.T. (2010). Predicting near-native ability: The factor structure and reliability of Hi-LAB. In M. T. Prior, Y. Watanabe, & S-K. Lee (Eds.), Selected proceedings of the 2008 Second Language Research Forum: Exploring SLA perspectives, positions, and practices (pp. 10-31). Somerville: MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project.
  15. Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  16. Ehrman, M. (1993). Ego boundaries revisited: Toward a model of personality and learning. In J. E. Alatis (Ed.), Strategic interaction and language acquisition: Theory, practice, and research (pp. 330-362). Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.
  17. Ehrman, M. (1998). The learning alliance: Conscious and unconscious aspects of the second language teacher’s role. System, 26, 93-106.
  18. Ehrman, M. E., Leaver, B. L., & Oxford, R. L. (2003). A brief overview of individual differences in second language learning. System, 31, 313-330.
  19. Ehrman, M. E. & Oxford, R. L. (1995). Cognition plus: Correlates of language learning success. The Modern Language Journal, 79, 67-89.
  20. Ellis, R. (2008). The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  21. Ely, C. M. (1995). Tolerance of ambiguity and the teaching of ESL. In J. M. Reid (Ed.), Learning styles in the ESL/EFL classroom (pp. 216-217). New York: Heinle & Heinle.
  22. Ely, C. M. (1989). Tolerance of ambiguity and use of second language strategies.Foreign Language Annals, 22, 437-446.
  23. Furnham, A. & Ribchester, T. (1995). Tolerance of ambiguity: A review of the concept, its measurement and applications. Current Psychology, 14, 179-199.
  24. Grace, C. (1998). Personality type, tolerance of ambiguity, and vocabulary retention in CALL. CALICO Journal, 15, 19-45.
  25. Gregersen, T. & Horwitz, E. K. (2002). Language learning and perfectionism:Anxious and non-anxious language learners’ reactions to their own oral performance. Modern Language Journal, 86, 562-570.
  26. Griffin, E. (2011). A first look at communication theory. New York: McGraw Hill Higher Education.
  27. Gudykunst, W. B. (2005). An anxiety / Uncertainty Management (AUM) theory of strangers’ intercultural adjustment. In W. B. Gudykunst (Ed.), Theorizing about intercultural communication (pp. 419-457). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  28. Horwitz, E. K. (2001). Language anxiety and achievement. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 112-126.
  29. Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 70, 125-132.
  30. Horwitz, E. K. & Yan, J. X. (2008). Learners' perceptions of how anxiety interacts with personal and instructional factors to influence their achievement in English: A qualitative analysis of EFL Learners in China. Language Learning, 58, 151-183.
  31. Housen, A., Schoonjans, E., Janssens, S., Welcomme, A., Schoonheere, E., & Pierrard, M. (2011). Conceptualizing and measuring the impact of contextual factors in instructed SLA – the role of language prominence. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 49, 83-112.
  32. Kim, J.-H. (2000). Foreign language listening anxiety: A study of Korean students learning English. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). The University of Texas, Austin.
  33. Kramsch, C. (2009). The multilingual subject. What foreign language learners say about their experiences and why it matters. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  34. Liu, M. (2006). Anxiety in Chinese EFL students at different proficiency levels. System, 34, 301-316.
  35. Liu, M. (2012). Predicting effects of personality traits, self-esteem, language classrisk-taking and sociability on Chinese university EFL learners’ performance in English. Journal of Second Language Teaching and Research, 1, 30-57.
  36. Lu, Z., & Liu, M. (2011). Foreign Language Anxiety and strategy use: A study with Chinese undergraduate EFL learners. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2, 1298-1305.
  37. MacIntyre, P. D. (1999). Language anxiety: A review of the research for language teachers. In D. J. Young (Ed.), Affect in foreign language and second language learning: A practical guide to creating a low-anxiety classroom atmosphere (pp. 24-45). Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill.
  38. Maclntyre, P. D. & Charos, C. (1996). Personality, attitudes, and affect as predictors of second language communication. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 15, 3-26.
  39. MacIntyre, P. D. & Gardner, R. C. (1989). Anxiety and second-language learning: Toward a theoretical clarification. Language Learning, 39, 251-275.
  40. MacIntyre, P. D. & Gardner, R. C. (1991). Language anxiety: Its relationship to other anxieties and to processing in native and second languages. Language Learning, 41, 513-534.
  41. MacIntyre, P. D. & Gardner, R. C. (1994). The subtle effects of language anxiety on cognitive processing in the second language. Language Learning, 44, 283-305.
  42. MacIntyre, P. D. & Gregersen, T. (2012a). Emotions that facilitate language learning: The positive-broadening power of the imagination. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 2, 193-213.
  43. MacIntyre, P. D. & Gregersen, T. (2012b). Affect: The role of language anxiety and other emotions on language learning. In S. Mercer, S. Ryan, & M. Williams (Eds.) Psychology for language learning: Insights from research, theory and practice (pp. 103-118). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  44. MacIntyre, P. D., Noels, K. A., & Clément, R. (1997). Biases in self-ratings of second language proficiency: The role of language anxiety. Language Learning, 47, 265-287.
  45. Matsuura, H. (2007). Intelligibility and individual learner differences in the EIL context. System, 35, 293-304.
  46. Naiman, N., Fröhlich, M., & Stern, H. H. (1975). The good language learner: A report. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.
  47. Niżegorodcew, A. (1997). First language use in the second language classroom in the light of SLA research. In Z. Mazur & T. Bela (Eds.), New developments in English and American studies: Continuity and change (pp. 631-641). Kraków: Universitas.
  48. Oxford, R. L. (1999). Anxiety and the language learner: New insights. In J. Arnold (Ed.), Affect in language learning (pp. 58-67). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  49. Oxford, R. L. & Ehrman, M. (1992). Second language research on individual differences. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 13, 188-205.
  50. Schrauf, R. (in press). Using correspondence analysis to model immigrant multilingualism over time. In J. Duarte & I. Gogolin (Eds.), Linguistic superdiversity in urban areas – research approaches. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
  51. Sia, J. & Dewaele, J.-M. (2006). Are you bilingual? Birkbeck Studies in Applied
  52. Linguistics, 1, 1-19.
  53. Smock, C. D. (1955). The influence of psychological stress on the “intolerance of ambiguity.” The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 50, 177-182.
  54. Thompson, A. S. & Lee, J. (2012). Anxiety and EFL: Does multilingualism matter? International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. doi: 10.1080/13670050.2012.713322
  55. Young, D. J. (1986). The relationship between anxiety and foreign language oral proficiency ratings. Foreign Language Annals, 19, 439-445.
  56. Wen, Q. & Johnson, R. K. (1997). L2 learner variables and English achievement: A study of tertiary-level English majors in China. Applied Linguistics, 18, 27-45.