Connecting two anxiety constructs: an interdisciplinary study of foreign language anxiety and interpretation anxiety

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2006

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Chiang, Yung-nan

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Abstract

In this study, the construct of interpretation anxiety is introduced and distinguished from foreign language anxiety. Quantitatively investigated were the scope, severity, underlying structure of, and relationship between foreign language anxiety and interpretation anxiety. In addition, the relative associations of these two constructs with interpretation achievement were compared to the associations of general anxiety variables. Qualitatively examined were the sources and effects of interpretation anxiety. A total of 327 Taiwanese university students learning Mandarin-English interpretation responded to a survey. The survey consisted of five instruments, including the Interpretation Classroom Anxiety Scale (ICAS), a new instrument developed for this study, the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS), the State Anxiety Inventory (SAI), the Trait Anxiety Inventory (TAI), and a background questionnaire. The participants’ achievement was measured by their mid-term exam scores and semester-end course grades. For the qualitative component, 10 students participated in interviews asking them about their thoughts and emotions in interpretation classes. The quantitative findings showed that interpretation students’ foreign language anxiety was similar to that of general L2 learners in severity and scope, and their interpretation anxiety was both significantly more severe and more prevalent than their foreign language anxiety. Two factors comprised the FLCAS (Communication and Negative Evaluation Anxiety and Worry about Failing English Class), and three factors comprised the ICAS (Fear of Interpretation Class and Negative Evaluation, Cognitive Processing Anxiety, and Low Self-Confidence in Interpretation). Interpretation anxiety and foreign language anxiety were two distinct but related psychological phenomena. In addition, interpretation anxiety and foreign language anxiety had significant negative relationships with interpretation achievement and emerged as significant predictors of learning outcomes, but state and trait anxiety did not. The qualitative analysis of the interview data yielded five major sources and four main effects of interpretation anxiety. The five major sources included speaker variables, audience variables, self variables, task variables, and classroom procedures variables. The four main consequences of interpretation anxiety included physiological effects, life routines effects, cognitive effects, and beyond-classroom effects.

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