Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Language anxiety is the apprehension experienced when students are confronted with a situation involving use of limited second language skills. Previous studies have shown that anxiety specific to language learning situations is negatively associated with measures of second language achievement.;The three studies that make up this dissertation are concerned with providing answers to two main issues that have been raised in the literature on language anxiety. The first concerns the relation of language anxiety to various indices of attitudes and motivation that have been implicated in second language learning. The results of Study 1 support the conclusion that language anxiety is distinct from attitudes and motivation. Further analyses show that language anxiety is significantly negatively correlated with second language performance measures that rely on a broad base of language skills (e.g. course grades) and relatively specific tasks as well (e.g. vocabulary recall).;The second issue concerns the more specific cognitive effects of language anxiety. In order to examine effects of language anxiety on the cognitive activities that underlie language learning, a model of the effects of anxiety on learning from instruction (Tobias, 1986) is used in two additional studies. The model separates language learning into three overlapping stages, concerned with the exposure (Input stage), comprehension (Processing stage), and production of the second language (Output stage). Study 2 employs scales designed to measure anxiety at each of the three stages separately. Results show that anxiety at each of the stages of processing is correlated with performance at that stage. Study 3 attempted to induce anxiety at each of the stages using a video camera. Results showed that when the camera was associated with increased anxiety, performance at all three stages was impaired, but when the camera failed to arouse anxiety, performance was not impaired. Results are discussed in terms of their implication for the conceptualization of language anxiety, its measurement, and potential actions to remedy its negative effects.



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