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The origin of the word anxiety

The origin of the word anxiety

2.2 The definition of anxiety

According to Longman Contemporary English Dictionary(2003), anxiety is the feeling of being very worried about something. In the context of learning environment, anxiety is feeling anxious, shy,embarres, worried, trembling, changes in posture (Lang 1968, 1971) in specific situation (Spielberger, Anton and Bedell 1976).

2.3 The approaches used in anxiety

2.4 Types of Anxiety

Anxiety is classified as a traits anxiety, state anxiety, and situation specific anxiety in educational research which involves responses in ‘three main behavioural systems’ (Lang 1968) consisting largely independent components of motor behaviour, linguistic expressions and physiological states.

2.4.1 Traits Anxiety

Anxiety is categorized as being trait when a person who is anxious, always feels anxious. A trait anxiety signifies a person’s continual tendency to react with state anxiety since she or he is persistently expecting bad circumstances to transpire. Anxiety disorder generally associated with people who have trait anxiety. Traits anxiety also is regard as a fixed stage of anxiety by scholars. which is undergone by a person who has the tendecy to become extra anxious and persistently displays unhealthy responses when he experience stimuli that incite him. Rain, mushroom or handphone may trigger a person who suffer from trait anxiety to become more anxious. A normal person might not see rain or mushroom as a threath but to a person who suffer from trait anxiety, it can be extremely unpleasent for them.

2.4.2 State Anxiety

A person who is anxious always feels anxious in variety situation but a state of anxiety is a temporary condition at a particular moment. State anxiety is identified as an unpleasant emotional stimulation that occurs when a person is comes into contact with frightening stressors or dangers is identified as a state anxiety. Fear, tension and apprehension in particular situation is known as a temporary emotional condition. Rubbing the plams of the hands on a pants and licking the lips are physiological arousal and obserable behaviour indicators that relate to state anxiety.However, the correlation between physiological and psychological measures of state anxiety are quite low and can produce conflicting results.

2.4.3 Situation Specific Anxiety

Another type of anxiety is a situation specific anxiety where a person feels anxious in a specific situation. It has been identified that language learning anxiety is one of the situation specific anxiety. Reflecting worry or emotionality can be categorized as anxiety (Leibert and Morris, 1967). Emotionally refers to psychological reaction and behavioural reaction ( Zeidner , 1998).

Foreign language anxiety has been theorized as occurring at each three stages; input, processing and output (MacIntyre and Gardner, 1994b). Anxiety at input stage refers to the uneasiness that the students experience when they are presented with a new word or phrases in the target language. Anxiety experienced at this stage may reduce the effectiveness of input by limiting the anxious student’s ability to attend to material presented by the instructor and reducing the student’s ability to represent input internally (Tobias, 1977). Anxiety at the processing stage refers to the apprehension students experience when performing cognitive operations on new information. The amount of processing anxiety encountered appears to depend on the complexity of the information, the extent on which memory is relied, and the level of organization of the presented material (Tobias, 1986). Anxiety at the output stage involves the apprehension students experience when required to demonstrate their ability to use previously learned material. In particular, anxiety at this stage involves interference that appears after processing has been completed, but before it has been reproduced effectively as output (Tobias, 1977).

2.5 Anxiety test

Anxiety has debilitating effect on the language learning process (Woodrow 2006). Anxiety test is refers to cognitive, affective and behavourial responses that accompany concern about possible failure in evaluation situations (Zeidner and Safir 1988). Anxiety is different from language anxiety as it support Macintyre and Gardner (1989, 1991a) research general anxiety measures could not capture language learning anxiety as it is too specific. A huge number of second language and foriegn language anxiety reasearch been done, many studies prove that relationship between anxiety and performance in foreign language is negatively related (MacIntyre 1999). Meanwhile, numerous researchers (Everson, Millsap, & Rodriguez, 1991; Hancock, 2001; Spielberger & Vagg, 1995 ) assert that relationship between test anxiety and achievement is negative. Anxiety test is viewed as a complex form which includes Various elements (Benson, 1998; Zeidner, 1998). Anxiety test is view as a situation specific from trait anxiety which emphasis on the components of worry and emotionality.

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Table 1. Relationship between foreign language anxiety and performance variables





Hortwitz (1986)


Final course grade

r=-.54, p=<.001

Aida (1994)


Course grade

r = -.38, p = <.01

Philips (1992)


Oral test grade

r = -.40, p = <.01

Cheng (1999)


Speaking course grade

r = -.28, p = <.001

Sait and Samimy (1996)

Language class anxiety

Final course grade

r = -.51 – -.52, p = <.01

Macintyre and Gardner (1989)

French class anxiety

French use anxiety

Vocabulary test

r = -.31 – -.42, p = <.001

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