How Does Anxiety affect Performance in a Foreign Language?

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
This study explores the dimensions of foreign language anxiety upon the foreign language performance of two ability groups of Arabic-speaking students in grades 11 and 12, and examines the relationship between anxiety (foreign language writing anxiety and foreign language class anxiety), and performance as well as their associations with foreign language speaking and writing achievements. The investigation follows both quantitative and qualitative research traditions and is based on a critical review of the existing work in the field of foreign language anxiety research, two sets of questionnaires, single interviews and a focus group interview. The relationship between the students’ foreign language anxiety and their performance in a foreign language is investigated. Findings suggest that most of the students experience anxiety, with the Arts group experiencing higher levels of foreign language anxiety. Statistical analyses revealed a significant negative relation between the foreign language writing anxiety and the speaking performance, for the Arts group. While no correlation was found between writing and speaking achievements of the Arts group, a significant positive relation was noted between writing performance and the speaking performance for the science group. Qualitative data analyses show that personal and interpersonal anxieties were the main sources of anxiety for the students. There is an indication that the students may be equally experiencing anxiety about speaking in the foreign language.
anxiety, performance, foreign language, Arabic-speaking students