Foreign language anxiety and language learning : a study of Greek Senior High school students' anxiety in oral performance
Abstract ( in English)As English becomes the world's most powerful international language, it serves the crucial role as communication media for people from different nations. In order to keep up with the world's wealth of information, the Greek government has put great emphasis on English education in recent years. The educational orientation of the curriculum for the teaching of English, according to the Pedagogical Institute, is the progressive development of the students' ability to participate in communicative situations in English, so that in the short term, they will be able to cover their basic individual, scholarly and social needs, and in the long term, they will have the ability to respond to the basic requirements of their social, educational and professional environment. This affective educational orientation of the Greek curriculum for the English language implies that the learners' psychological condition is considered a critical part in foreign language acquisition for the Greek Ministry of Education.As language pedagogy continues to move towards an emphasis on authentic communicative competence and a communicatively oriented classroom, anxietyprovoking threats become higher when students are asked to speak in front of others. 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.Since anxiety is known to have a harmful effect on language learning and performance, a good deal of research has been devoted to it in recent years, confirming what most people would regard as intuitively true, “that learners with low anxiety will learn better” (Ellis, 1994: 482). Therefore, language anxiety deserves to be the subject of enquiry because it is correlated to low proficiency. Research has shown that language anxiety is a significant problem in language classrooms throughout the world especially in terms of its strong relationship to the skill of speaking in a foreign or second language.Seeking to shed further light on the issue of language anxiety, the main concern of the present study is to find out how anxiety is manifested in the Greek Senior High school learners, which factors students believe that contribute to anxiety, whether language anxiety is directly associated with specific types of activities or with instructors' behaviours and how they cope with their second language anxiety, especially in reference to the results of questionnaires which were administered and to their self-reflective accounts of emotional difficulties encountered in the Greek state school, as revealed at interviews.The outcomes of this study may provide some alternative insights into the relationship between language anxiety and oral performance and help to identify the roles of teachers in reducing the language anxiety of these students.