Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Measuring Language Anxiety Perceived By Spanish University Students Of English

Ana María Ortega Cebreros


Having students that perceive considerable levels of anxiety in the classroom has been regarded as an experience that is mo re likely to occur in foreign language lessons than in lessons on other subjects of the curriculum. This course of events seems natural if we take into account that in foreign language classrooms the students have to cope with the demands of being able to sustain communication by means of an instrument they are not completely familiar with. This consideration may have more or less unconsciously impelled most researchers to study the problem of language anxiety with reference to groups of students of foreign languages at an elementary level. But the problem of language anxiety is not exclusive to beginners. University students with an extensive language learning background can also perceive considerable levels of language anxiety, as the results of this study indicate. The main concern of this article is therefore to describe the author's experience of measuring the language anxiety perceived by Spanish University students of English using a Spanish version of the FLCAS (Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope 1986). Describing this experience has entailed in turn the following aims with reference to the issue of language anxiety: (1) to review the different factors involved in the so-called foreign language classroom anxiety experience as they appear reflected in the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope 1986); (2) to discuss the process followed for attaining Spanish version of the scale that has been piloted and can be applied to groups of Spanish learners of any foreign language for classroom research purposes; (3) to present and discuss the results of administering the scale to a group of 33 Spanish students of English who were studying their second year of English Philology at the University of Jaén in 1998; (4) to show the pedagogical usefulness of this mode of enquiry as a way of openly addressing the issue of anxiety in the language classroom.

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