A Study on the Relationship between Language Learning Anxiety and Learning Strategy Use of University Students in the Computer-Based Environment
|School||Shanghai International Studies University|
|Course||English Language and Literature|
|Keywords||language anxiety learning strategies computer-based environment|
Since the1990s, modern information technology centering on computer internet hasdeveloped swiftly. College English Teaching Curriculum Requirement (For TrialImplementation) issued by Higher Education Bureau of the Ministry of Education of ChinaIn January,2004made the personalized, autonomous internet teaching mode become goaland trend of college English teaching reform.The development of internet technology enables learners to learn autonomously andinteract with the students or the instructors in a collaborative way and then conductdistance learning, which testifies the superiority and feasibility of computer-based teachingmode compared with traditional teaching mode.However, some problems which limit internet language teaching and learning arefound out in reality. That is, lack of learning strategy use leads to the students’ languageanxiety. It displays in the following aspects: firstly, learners are confused with considerableinformation. Secondly, sometimes they cannot obtain effective and timely feedback.Thirdly, they are so deeply indulged in online entertainment activities that they can’tcontrol themselves. Finally, they are unfamiliar with computer and internet operation andthen are not used to screen reading. All these impede the learning efficiency. Therefore, itis a key issue to promote the teaching reform how to help learners to employ reasonableand effective learning strategies and reduce language anxiety in the computer-basedenvironment. However, so far the relationship between language learning anxiety andlearning strategy hasn’t arrived at authoritative conclusion yet, and there are few studies ontheir relationship in the computer-based environment. Thus, the author conducts theresearch based on the current situation.Since the1980s, Horwitz&Cope have taken the lead in researching language anxiety,which was regarded as a specific anxiety different from other anxiety feeling. They broadlydefined language anxiety as “the psychological tension that the learner went through inperforming a learning task, and this anxiety is situational-specific.” The Foreign LanguageClassroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) designed by Horwitz integrated three related anxietiesto their conceptualization of foreign language anxiety, i.e. communication apprehension,test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation, which marked language anxiety into a relatively mature stage and provided a good instrument for empirical research.Anxiety and learning strategies are two important variables among the individualfactors. The studies on language learning strategy (LLS) experienced the beginning stagein the1970s, the developing stage in the1980s, the flourishing stage in the1990s and thesilence stage in the2000s. Oxford’s achievement had an outstanding effect on strategyresearch. The author adopted her definition and classification in the study. She（1990）defined LLS as “Language learning strategies are behaviors or actions which learners useto make language learning more successful，self-directed and enjoyable” and classifiedLLS into indirect strategy and direct strategy. SSIL（Strategy Inventory of LanguageLearning）designed by her was recognized to have good validity and reliability.On the foundation of literature review, this study aims to explore the relationshipbetween foreign language learning anxiety and use of learning strategies in thecomputer-based environment. The subjects are232non-English majors selected fromfreshmen in Nanchang University. The author adopts both quantitative and qualitativemethods to collect data. Taking the computer-based environment into consideration, theauthor attempts to answer the following questions:What is the general tendency of university students’ English learning anxiety andwhat are the differences in levels of their anxiety in the computer-based environment?What are the relationships between anxiety and such variables as gender, personality,family background, English performance etc?What are the differences of anxiety between in the computer-based environment andin the traditional environment? What are the sources of language anxiety in thecomputer-based environment?What is the general tendency of using learning strategy for the university students inthe computer-based environment? Is there difference between use of strategy and suchvariables as gender, personality, family background personality, academic performance,cultural background, learning interest, learning confidence, multi-media environment, etc?Is there the relationship between language anxiety and strategies use in thecomputer-based environment? If so, what is the relationship?What types of language learning strategies do university students of high or lowanxiety employ and with what frequency in their language learning? How are network English autonomous learning strategies constructed to reducelanguage anxiety efficiently?The author formulates four hypotheses, which are as followings:(1) There is little correlation between level of anxiety and strategy use in thecomputer-based environment.(2) There is little statistic significance of the strategy use between the high-anxietylearners and low-anxiety learners.(3)There is little correlation between language learning anxiety and Englishperformance.(4) There is little correlation between strategy use and English performances.Quantitative research was conducted by means of questionnaire, which includedLanguage Learning Internet Anxiety Questionnaire（LLIAQ）and Language LearningInternet Strategy Questionnaire(LLISQ). Most of items in LLIAQ have been modifiedbased on FLCAS, stressing internet language anxiety; almost every item in LLISQ hasbeen re-edited based on SILL according to internet learning strategies. In the process ofdescriptive statistics through SPSS, the author adopted analytic induction. The interviewwas carried out by choosing20interviewees among232subjects to illustrate andsupplement these findings.The results show that, first of all, in the computer-based environment,non-English-major university students are still more or less interfered with languageanxiety. To be more specific, the majority of the students belong to moderate anxiety,which will be beneficial to their language learning. Among the students, comprehensiveanxiety, including the anxiety from listening, speaking, reading and writing, ranked themost serious, with a remarkably higher mean score than those of communicationapprehension, internet technology anxiety, fear of negative evaluation and test anxiety.Besides, the relationships between language anxiety and gender, family background, andEnglish performance have been studied. The female students are a little more anxious thanthe male students in learning English but there is no significance between gender andanxiety; the anxiety mean score of urban students is slightly lower than that of ruralstudents. Among those who are highly anxious, there are more students from rural familythan those from urban family. However, surprisingly, among those who are lowly anxious, there are fewer students from urban family than those from rural family. Therefore, in thecomputer-based environment the anxiety scale from rural family is no more than that fromurban family. In other words, those rural students are no more anxious than those urbanones, which is different from the result in the traditional environment; although introvertedstudents have higher anxiety than extroverted students, there is little significance betweenpersonality and anxiety; The study has found a negative relationship between anxiety andEnglish proficiency and low-proficiency students are generally much more anxious thanhigh-proficiency students.Furthermore, the author finds two dominating anxiety-generating factors: the learners’internal factors and the external ones. Internal factors include the learners’ risk-takingability, the tolerance of ambiguity, unscientific beliefs about language learning whileexternal factors exist in the competitiveness between the classmates, the interaction insideor outside classroom, language testing and anxiety from internet itself.Third, as for the anxiety differences between the traditional environment and thecomputer-based environment, the author concluded that the main facet to get them toproduce anxiety is that they lack the ability to deal with the information they need. Forexample, the students find there are so many online materials that they are often throwninto the confusion. Then, many of boys are easily indulged in games while some of girlshave to stop their language learning because of computer and internet technologyproblems.Fourth, the mean of overall strategy use indicates a moderate frequency of use in thisstudy. Among all six strategy categories, meta-cognitive strategy ranks the first, cognitivestrategy and compensation strategy are of relatively higher frequency of use, followed bysocial strategies, affective strategies. Memory strategies are of the lowest frequency ofstrategy use. The factors affecting use of strategies in the computer-based environmentinclude gender, personality, family background, cultural background, the length of time,etc. and there are positive relationships between strategy use and learners’ performance,interest and confidence. That is, the higher a learner’s English performance is, the moreoften a learner uses the learning strategies; the more interested in language learning alearner is, the more often a learner uses the learning strategies; the more confident a learneris, the more often a learner uses the learning strategies. Fifth, the negative correlation between language learning anxiety and the overalllearning strategy use is found out. That is, the higher the students’ levels of anxiety are, theless likely they use language learning strategies in the computer-based environment. Theconclusion is in consistent with that in traditional environment. Low anxiety group makeuse of strategies more frequently. Mean of strategy use within each strategy category ishigher for low anxiety compared with high anxiety. It is revealed that in anxietysubcategory, every strategy use is almost in the same order as for high, moderate and lowanxiety groups. Three groups employ meta-cognitive strategies most often and memorystrategies least often. The meta-cognitive, cognitive, compensation, social and affectivestrategies rank the first, the second, the third, the fourth and the fifth in groups ofcomprehensive anxiety, communication apprehension, fear of negative evaluation, andinternet technology anxiety respectively. These results are different from those in theconventional environment.Last but not least, the students’ evaluation to internet language learning has also beendiscussed. According to the data analysis, some corresponding strategies are proposed.That is, in order to produce relaxing and pleasant learning atmosphere, the instructorsshould identify their roles clearly and adopt cooperative learning model; change theinstructors’ and learners’ unscientific beliefs about internet learning; providecomprehensible input and computer equipments; integrate language culture into teachingand conduct computer-based learning strategy training.Theoretically, this research may enrich and improve the relevant theory ofrelationship between language anxiety and learning strategy especially in thecomputer-based environment. Furthermore, it can broaden a new road where humanisticpsychology combines with applied linguistics to help to build a good teaching model.Practically, this study may provide implications for teachers to guide the students toadopt corresponding strategies through analyzing high-anxiety students’ sources, adjustthemselves to new teaching mode by taking advantage of internet, create a relaxing andharmonious environment so as to reduce the students’ anxiety. Meanwhile, under theguidance of the teachers, the students can employ proper and effective internet autonomousstrategies according to their own character, which will lead to successful languagelearning.