Effects of task values, attributions, and cultural constructs on foreign language use anxiety among international teaching assistants

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Lim, Hye-yeon

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This study examines the relationships between task values, attributions, cultural constructs and foreign language use anxiety using expectancy-value theory, attribution theory, and Triandis’ (1995) cultural constructs model (i.e., individualism versus collectivism) as its theoretical bases. This study explores how perceptions and values of foreign language learning affect foreign language use anxiety. Going beyond the perspective that foreign language anxiety is an individual personality characteristic, cultural constructs were used to investigate the influence of culture on foreign language use anxiety. Three major hypotheses were tested. The first, based on expectancy-value theory, states that the more value attached to foreign language learning, the higher the level of foreign language use anxiety. The second states that individuals who attribute their outcomes externally will have higher levels of anxiety than those who attribute them to internally controllable variables. The third states that those individuals from collectivist societies will have higher levels of foreign language use anxiety than those from individualist societies. Survey data were collected from 226 international teaching assistants at a large southwestern university. The survey instruments included the English Use Anxiety Scale (adapted from Gardner’s French Use Anxiety Scale), Rotter’s Internal-External Locus of Control Scale, a modified version of Eccles and Wigfield’s value scale, and the Triandis cultural constructs scale. The data showed that task values were negatively related to foreign language use anxiety. Thus, the first hypothesis was not supported contrary to theoretical expectations. The data also revealed that as learners perceived the successful acquisition of English to be under their control (i.e., due to their efforts), foreign language use anxiety increased. This finding ran counter to theoretical expectations and failed to support the hypothesis. Finally, no significant relationship between cultural orientation and foreign language use anxiety was obtained. Nevertheless, the data indicated that Asian learners,