The effects of anxiety on Korean ESL learners’ reading strategy use and reading comprehension
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This study investigated the effects of foreign language reading anxiety on Korean ESL learners’ reading strategy use and reading comprehension. Data were collected from forty-five Korean students who were enrolled in either ESL programs or graduate programs at UT. The students took the foreign language reading anxiety scale (FLRAS) followed by a background questionnaire. Based on their FLRAS scores, six participants who were classified as high, mid, and low anxiety were invited to an individual reading study. Various types of data were collected from a reading comprehension task, a strategy inventory for reading comprehension, the Cognitive Interference Questionnaire, and interviews. The results showed that there is a fair amount of FL reading anxiety among Korean ESL learners. Although it seems at first glance that reading in a FL is not anxietyprovoking, the result indicated that it can indeed arouse anxiety in some learners due to distinct features of FL texts including a different orthography, textual organizations, and cultural topics. In addition, the results of reading processing of six participants representing different anxiety levels indicated that anxiety can affect learners’ reading processing in terms of their strategy use and cognitive interference. The results showed that highly anxious students who were occupied with off-task thoughts tended to use more local strategies while less anxious students employed more global strategies and background knowledge strategies. Lastly, the highly anxious students showed lower reading comprehension scores than their less anxious peers, suggesting that anxiety can play a detrimental role not only in reading processing but also in comprehension.