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Anxiety in English language learning : A case study of Taiwanese university students on a study abroad programme

Wang, Yu-Chi (2009) Anxiety in English language learning : A case study of Taiwanese university students on a study abroad programme. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This study explored Taiwanese university English as a foreign language (EFL) learners' feelings of anxiety during a short-term study abroad (SA) programme. It aimed to discern what causes anxiety, how anxiety affects students' English language learning while abroad, and students' perceptions of the impact of the SA experience on their later English language learning and anxiety. The background to this research is the Taiwanese university context in which most students' English proficiency is limited. They are usually anxious about English language learning and especially about being involved in verbal communication. Due to this limited English proficiency and anxiety, sending students to study, English in an English-speaking country has been felt by some, to be a possible solution. This was a qualitative case study involving eight participants. Data was generated through semi-structured interviews, observations in classroom and outside, and students' diary entries. Four of the eight participants were selected for the illustrative individual case studies in which their English language learning anxiety before, during, and after the trip was analysed and discussed in relation to the views on situated learning theory and poststructuralist approaches to Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research. The findings suggest that anxiety is a symptom of identity conflict, dependent on contextual factors and is always fluctuating. Such a view of anxiety is rarely present in existing literature. The findings also show that various social factors made the students experience identity conflict during the SA programme, which in turn caused anxiety and so impaired their access to social interactions in English, hindering their English language learning while abroad. Hence the SA trip has minimal impact on students' English language learning in general and on reducing their anxiety in particular. This contradicts the common belief that SA programmes provide an optimal language learning environment in which students have unlimited opportunities to practice the L2 with the native speakers. My study thus also raises questions in the field of SLA regarding the benefits of SA trips in enhancing language learning and / or how such trips may be improved to benefit students more. Such questions on the merits of SA programmes again have rarely been discussed in previous SLA research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Education (Leeds)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.515810
Depositing User: Ethos Import
Date Deposited: 24 Mar 2014 12:39
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2014 12:39
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5396

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