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Journal article

Listening Comprehension and Anxiety in the Arabic Language Classroom

Elkhafaifi H...(+1 more)

The Modern Language Journal, vol. 89, issue ii (2005) pp. 206-219

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Abstract

Anxiety plays an important role in foreign language (FL) students' classroom performance. This study presents the results of the first empirical examination of the effect of general FL learning anxiety on students' achievement in an Arabic course and of listening anxiety on students' listening comprehension. The data came from 2 measures of anxiety and a back-ground questionnaire administered to 233 postsecondary students of Arabic as a FL. Anxiety scores were correlated with final grades and listening comprehension scores. The results in-dicated that FL learning anxiety and listening anxiety are separate but related phenomena that both correlate negatively with achievement. The study also revealed significant negative correlations among FL learning anxiety, listening anxiety, and selected demographic variables. These results suggest that reducing student anxiety and providing a less stressful classroom environment might enable teachers and Arabic programs to help students improve both their listening comprehension proficiency as well as their overall course performance. THE ROLE OF ANXIETY AND ITS POTEN-tially detrimental effect on learners in foreign or second language (FL) classes has concerned FL educators for years. Various aspects of FL learning may engender anxiety in students, but the unfa-miliar writing and phonological systems, as well as the foreign cultural context of the less com-monly taught languages (LCTL), such as Arabic, Japanese, or Chinese, appear to produce greater anxiety in learning many LCTLs than the more commonly taught languages. Learning Arabic seems to be very challeng-ing for native speakers of English. The Foreign Service Institute estimates that approximately 1320 hours of instruction in an intensive pro-gram are required for such languages as Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to bring students to the same level of proficiency that may be The Modern Language Journal, 89, ii, (2005) 0026-7902/05/206–220 $1.50/0

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