Teachers’ Perceptions of Speaking Anxiety in the Swedish EFL Classroom : An Interview Study of how Six Upper Secondary English Teachers Perceive Speaking Anxiety

University essay from Jönköping University/Högskolan för lärande och kommunikation

Abstract: This degree project is an interview study investigating upper secondary EFL teachers’ perceptions of speaking anxiety in their classrooms. The aim of the study is to gain insight into how the teachers perceive the prevalence of foreign language speaking anxiety (FLSA) among their pupils, the factors contributing to FLSA and what methods they use to manage FLSA in their EFL classrooms. To achieve this aim, a phenomenological approach was applied, and six teachers were interviewed using semi-structured interviews in a mediumsized city in Sweden. Through the interviews, information of the teachers’ experiences in relation to the prevalence of FLSA, the contributing factors to FLSA and what methods they used to manage FLSA were gathered. The results showcase that the teachers perceive FLSA to be present in their EFL classrooms but to varying degrees. They perceived that the factors contributing to FLSA could be many, but the factors all the teachers named were fear of evaluation, having many people listening to your speech, being focused on correctness in the FL, and being inexperienced and afraid to make mistakes in the FL. To counteract this with methods of managing FLSA, the teachers perceived that positive reinforcement, communication, group division, individual adaptation, a focus on meaning over correctness, and showing understanding for the pupils’ feelings are suitable methods to manage FLSA in their classrooms. The most common of these methods was the usage of individual adaptations, where the teacher and pupil communicate to find the most suitable solution with reference to the knowledge requirements of the English subject and the pupil’s needs. Lastly, the results indicate that FLSA is a complex phenomenon in EFL education due to the variety of factors that might contribute to it and the variety of methods potentially useful in counteracting it.  

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