Second language speaking anxiety of learners of English for academic purposes in Australia

Year: 2002

Author: Woodrow, Lindy, Chapman, E

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This study examines second language speaking anxiety of international students attending English for academic purposes (EAP) courses prior to entering university courses in Australia. Research has indicated that anxiety is a significant negative influence on language performance, particularly speaking.

Second language speaking anxiety is conceptualised as a two-dimensional construct reflecting in-class and out-of-class communication as experienced by English language learners studying in Australia. This study describes the reliability and validity of instrumentation designed to measure second language speaking anxiety, its relationship to oral performance, the major stressors reported by the sample and the influence of ethnicity on anxiety scores.

275 advanced EAP students completed the questionnaire and took part in an IELTS type oral assessment, 47 of these participants took part in a semi-structured interview. The instrumentation was found to be reliable and valid. Second language speaking anxiety was found to be negatively related to oral performance. The major stressors reported by the sample were performing in front of others in the English class and interacting with naïve speakers of English. There was some indication that anxiety is influenced by ethnicity with students from Confucian heritage cultures reporting more anxiety than European or Vietnamese students.