Foreign language anxiety and willingness to communicate in the ESL context : a study of intermediate- and advanced-level learners in two intensive English programs




Hardy, Jacques Wilburn

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This study investigated the levels of and relationships between foreign language anxiety, willingness to communicate, and background variables among 44 intermediate and advanced-level adult ESL students enrolled in intensive English courses in Austin, Texas. Participants completed four surveys at the beginning of the Fall, 2007 instructional term. Descriptive analysis of the resulting data indicated relatively low levels of anxiety among the participants, although a small percentage exhibited moderate anxiety levels and nearly one quarter of them reported anxiety in certain classroom situations. The participants also reported generally low levels of willingness to communicate, especially with strangers and larger groups. Correlation analysis revealed that anxiety bore significant negative correlations with willingness to communicate, communication frequency, and self-perceived competence in both speaking and listening. Willingness to communicate correlated positively with frequency and self-perceived speaking competence. Participants who had been in the USA for over 6 months were slightly but significantly more anxious and less willing to speak English than newly arrived students. No other significant relationships were found between background variables and either anxiety or willingness to communicate in English.


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