English Language Anxiety: A Case Study on Undergraduate ESL Students in Malaysia

Olivia Eloise James, Mansour Amini, Mojde Yaqubi


The level of foreign language anxiety and the factors leading to the English anxiety level among English students were explored using a sequential mixed method with semi-structured interviews and survey. The interview was the main research tool to learn about students’ coping strategies in dealing with English language anxiety, while the survey was aimed to provide additional information to support the qualitative data. The questionnaire and the interview questions were adapted from Horwitz et al.’s (1986) Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS). The participants of the study (11 interviewees and 33 questionnaire respondents) were selected purposively from the “Basic English” of a private university students in Malaysia. Analysis of the findings revealed that the students’ of Basic English were “slightly anxious” because of Fear of Negative Evaluation (m=3.16), “slightly anxious” about Communication Apprehension (m=3.07), “slightly anxious” about tests (Test Anxiety, m=3.02), and “not very anxious” about being in the Basic English class (m=2.9). Therefore, overall, the students were “slightly anxious”. The most common coping strategies used by Basic English students were “enquiring friends and lecturer”, “referring to sources such as Google and dictionaries”, “self-helping”, “self-motivation”, “positive thinking”, “shifting focus”, “doing revision”, “listening and understanding”, “self-reflect”, “trying to perform”, “calming down”, “acceptance, exercise”, “taking time to think”, “entertainment”, and “land laugh back to hide embarrassment”. Language educators are advised to prioritize their students’ social and emotional needs by removing or lessening the obstacles and challenges that the students go through when learning English by creating relaxed and non-threatening setting for the teaching and learning.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/sll.v4n1p9


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