Teachers’ Perspectives on Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety : A Qualitative Study of Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety in a Swedish Upper Secondary School Context
Abstract: The aim of the present study was to find out about teachers’ awareness, experiences and specific strategies used when dealing with Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety in the subject of English in Swedish upper secondary schools. Five teachers were interviewed to find out about their awareness and experiences of what contributes to Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety, and what manifestations students show who suffer from it. Further, the interviews also intended to find out about the teachers’ specific strategies used in order to reduce Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety. The results demonstrated that the anxious students generally are those who put unrealistic demands on themselves and feel that anything less than an excellent outcome is a failure. All participants agreed that two contributing factors to Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety are the fear of being embarrassed in front of others, and the emotional aspect of low self-confidence or self-esteem. Students tend to fear speaking situations where others could evaluate them negatively, which probably has to do with low self-confidence or self-esteem. The most evident manifestation of Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety proved to be the strategy of avoidance, where students can refuse to speak, become silent, or do not even show up for speaking activities. The most extensively used strategy for reducing Foreign Language Speaking Anxiety turned out to be dividing students into smaller groups, in order to make each student feel more comfortable speaking English. However, the results also brought up some interesting strategies used not mentioned in previous research.
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