An investigations into the factors that associated with writing anxiety for english language learners in UAE universities

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
Despite increasing interest in investigating the effects of second/foreign language writing anxiety on L2 learners’ writing performance and attitudes over the last three decades, the potential sources of that phenomenon have not been widely researched and identified, particularly in Arabic EFL contexts. Hence, the current study with its mixed approach design mainly explores and investigates the potential factors associated with writing anxiety and the strategies for alleviating it among the English language learners in UAE universities. A total of one hundred and ten students in addition to six EFL instructors were the study’s participants. Quantitatively, two survey questionnaires and students’ writing scores were used to investigate the anxiety levels, effects and sources. For the qualitative phase, ten highly-anxious students and ten low-anxious ones were individually interviewed to deepen understanding about the possible sources of their anxiety and the strategies they use to mitigate its detrimental effects. Additionally, a focus group discussion with the instructors was held to explore their perspectives on the coping strategies they use and suggest to reduce the levels of anxiety in writing classes. The findings show that the participants encountered high levels of anxiety when writing English compositions and there was a statistically significant negative correlation between students’ writing scores and their levels of anxiety. Furthermore, the findings indicate that high levels of writing anxiety could primarily be attributed to writing tests, cognitive and linguistic factors. Some pedagogical practices, feedback, and evaluation factors were also reported by the participants as moderate and weak contributing factors to their writing anxiety. In addition, the findings reveal that various affective, cognitive, linguistic, and pedagogical mitigating strategies and tactics can be used by the low-anxious students and EFL instructors to lower the anxiety levels. The results also demonstrate that computer use in writing classes and tests was perceived as an anxiety provoking factor and had no significant effects in reducing the participants’ writing anxiety. Based on these findings, pedagogical implications and recommendations for further studies are provided for educators, policymakers and researchers.
College students -- Psychology., Written communication -- Study and teaching (Higher)., writing anxiety, UAE universities, EFL instructors