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Reaction Paper 1: Anxiety and Trilingual Students

Shenikah Grandison

Post University

Dr. Mary Mills


Reaction Paper 1: Anxiety and Trilingual Students

There seems to be limited research on the effects of foreign language anxiety (FLA) with

trilingual learners. Literature states that FLA may be the most pervasive obstacles to

language learning (Bensalem, 2017). FLA is defined as the feeling of tension and

apprehension specifically associated with L2 contexts including speaking, listening and

learning (Bensalam, 2017). There are many theories as to approach FLA, ranging from

differentiating variables to situation-specific anxiety. Most FLA research has been

done on monolingual learners and little on bilingual and trilingual learners. The reason

the research took on Tunisia is because the linguistic context is diglossic and bilingual

(Bensalem, 2017). Diglossic is defined as the existence of two varieties of the same

language for instance standard and colloquial French (Bensalem, 2017). According to

literature it was found that student from bilingual or multilingual backgrounds experience

less anxiety than students from monolingual backgrounds (Bensalem, 2017). The purpose

of the study was to assess the levels of FLA in male and female Tunisian trilingual and

the main source of their anxiety. 73 students who learned Arabic and French prior to

learning French participated in the study. It was found that participants had an average

level of anxiety over all and corroborated with other findings among other cultural

contexts (Bensalam, 2017). The study also found that males and females experience the

same about of anxiety level (Bensalam, 2017). The next finding was that most students

who did have FLA were more anxious about failing their English course, rather

classroom performance (Bensalam, 2017). The study concluded that much of the findings

were similar to general literature on the subject of FLA.


I picked this article due to the general interest in anxiety that can come with

learning a new language. The implications of this study are important for both instructor

and student. I think it is important to note that or language anxiety is real, this is what

much of the literature tries to emphasize. There are many pros and cons to studying this

particular subject. Another particular factor that was interesting to me was the idea of

being trilingual. As a result we are to learn and understand and even apply different

theories that come with second language acquisition. However, it is interesting to learn

how multilingual individuals learn more than two languages. It is not unusual in America

today to find someone who is bilingual. In fact one could argue that many Americans are

bilingual, whether it is a language or a Creole or a dialect. However learning a third

language especially as an adult can be seen as a taxing process. It is not far-fetched to

think that those who learn a third language may have some reservations and anxiety of

doing so.

There are many factors in which a student may have anxiety. Lileikiene and

Danileviciene (2016) study was to investigate the foreign language in anxiety in the

classroom context in relation to its effect on foreign language acquisition as well as to

design recommendations of how. Besides test difficulty factors such as teachers attitudes

and evaluation, teachers and students interaction class, parents expectations, classmates

attitudes, students own achievements are the potential sources of students for language

anxiety (Lileikiene and Danileviciene, 2016). It has been stated that linguistics and

language researchers have been trying to associate anxiety with those in language

learning (Lileikiene and Danileviciene, 2016). Although there is research on FLA there's

still a long way to go many researchers are still trying to draw a consensus as to exactly
what it is (Demirdas and Bozdogan, 2013). Foreign language in anxiety is a powerful

predictor for demotivation in foreign language achievement, which means that FLA has

debilitating effects on learners achievements and scores (Lileikiene and Danileviciene,

2016). In the study it was found that participants felt anxious speaking in the language

class, making mistakes and being corrected by the teacher, where are you about the

consequences of failing and a foreign language class and speaking with native speakers,

thinking that other students look better than they did, and being afraid of being laughed at

(Lileikiene and Danileviciene, 2016). It was found as well that anxiety correlated with

age, the older a child was the lower their level of anxiety (Lileikiene and Danileviciene,

2016). However in the early days of learning what foreign languages it was many of the

studies conflicted each other (Demirdas and Bozdogan, 2013).

Another factor that I found interesting about this study was that they decided to do

it in Tunisia specifically with males and females who spoke to different languages. What

was even more interesting was that diglossic use of language was also included as a

factor as in the language. I found it interesting because I've never heard that term before

and I imagine linguistically it is significant. With this terminology, I found connection

with in my own personal life. I am particularly of Caribbean descent and just as any other

Caribbean country there is a professional and standard way of speaking versus the local

understanding of the same language. Diglossia describes a number of socio-lingual

situations from stylistic difference within one language or the use of separate languages

(Rukh and Saleem, 2014).

The implication of this study is very important. As instructors and teachers of

English as a foreign language, it is important to erase factors that are inhibiting our
students from learning the necessary material. If students cannot concentrate on what

they have to learn in class in acquiring the language, acquiring it will be all that much

more difficult. Found that report anxiety levels were lower than the empirical studies

stated but higher than other study (Demirdas and Bozdogan, 2013). Anxiety is a real beast

that can dismantle the learning process of any student. What I also find pretty interesting

too is that in this study the males and females experienced anxiety about the same level.

What's so interesting about that is that much of the research it stating that although both

males and females have anxiety issues it is mostly women that these studies seem to find

of a concern. Bensalam (2017) states that one of the reasons why the levels seem to be

fairly equal is the different cultural climate for women in Tunisia. In other words, because

women are achieving more, women are allowed to leave their home and be a part of the

workforce this allows them to have a little bit more confidence than most populations.

Teaching language and culture in unison or looking at it with the perspective of culture,

customs and traditions of the ethnicity allows to shed light on a number of issues, which

emerges in the process of communication (Bayramova, 2016). What they also found was

that although they were not as anxious as predicted one of the major anxieties that they

did have was the failure of their course. For many students English language competence

has a decisive role in determining academic success (Mulatu, Mandefro, Abebe and Yona,

2017). Classroom performance is very important in the TEFL community. Classroom

performance evaluates the teacher as well as the student. Ipina and Sagasta (2017) found

that self-perception of English competence level and specialist areas are the decisive

variable. The teacher needs to focus on classroom performance because they need to

witness whether or not their teaching practices are of any use.


In conclusion, there seems to be some points that this study did miss. For

instance, I found that although much of the literature samples were on females, most were

reacting to their environment. Additionally the concept of diglossic language was

fascinating and I was able to connect it to my own personal experience. This most

important item the researches were learning is that the anxiety stemmed for failing the

course in general. The implications of this study are very important. This article was a

great find.

References
Bensalam, E. (2017) Foreign language learning anxiety: The case of trilinguals. Arab

World English Journal, 8 (1)

Rukh, S., Saleem, N.(2014) Diglossic situation in central punjab: A case of urdu and

punjabi language. Language In India, 14 (6)

Demirdas, O, Bozdogan, D. (2013) Foreign language anxiety and performance of

language learners preparatory classes. Turkish Journal of Education, 2(3).

Lileikiene, A., Danileviciene, L. (2016) Foreign language anxiety in student learning.

Journal of Sports and Health Sciences, 101 (3).

Bayramova, A.M. (2016) Interrelation of language and culture. Theory and Practice in

Language Studies, 6 (10).

Mulatu, M., Mandefro, E., Abebe, T., Yona, Y. (2017) The impact of remedial training on

efl teachers interest, profiency and classroom performance: The case of

school in sidama zone, Ethiopia, 5 (2)

Ipina, N., Sagaste, P. (2017) Teachers students attitudes towards English in a multilingual

context: A longitudinal stuy, 55 (1).