Foreign language learning and related communicative anxiety for decades have intrigued a number of psychologists, linguists and teachers.
Some scholars have identified anxiety in learning foreign languages as “a sense of tension and the emergence of tedious processes in speaking, listening and learning, which are mainly related to training in a second foreign language.” The authors are of the opinion that communicative anxiety is one of the main obstacles to lasting learning and free use of foreign languages.
Other authors report on the relationship between communicative anxiety in English language education, such as anxiety, depression, fear of failure, isolation, psychological withdrawal, lack of linguistic competence, etc.
The phenomenon of “communicative anxiety”
Polish writer Eva Hoffman first discovered and wrote about the phenomenon of “communicative anxiety in her English language”. She says she often suffered from a high level of tension when she was supposed to speak in a foreign language and described her emotional experiences in situations requiring verification of her foreign language skills.
It has been shown that emotional intelligence directly affects foreign language learning. 464 people who studied 4 foreign languages were examined for this hypothesis. They are placed in 5 different situations in which to use a foreign language – chat with friends, colleagues, strangers, on the phone and in front of the audience. Participants are divided into three groups depending on their level of emotional intelligence – low, medium and high.
The results prove that the group with a high level of emotional intelligence has little communicative anxiety when using the first foreign language. According to data, people with high emotional intelligence communicate best with strangers, then on the phone and less well with an audience with only one foreign language. Highly emotionally, intelligent people using 4 foreign languages share that they love to communicate with both friends and strangers without any problems.
According to the data, people who have started their second and third language foreign language education at an earlier age show a much lower level of communicative anxiety and appreciate themselves as being more emotionally intelligent.
What are the conclusions?
Significant factors that reduce anxiety in using a foreign language are:
– Knowledge of more than one foreign language
– more frequent use of foreign languages
– communicating in foreign languages in a wide network of interlocutors.
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