Chinese Students’ English-speaking Anxiety in Asking Questions in the MSc TESOL Classroom

Peng Wang, Randhir Roopchund


This study explores the nature of anxiety in asking questions in class from the perspective of seven Chinese learners of English (ESL), with reference to their self-reflective accounts of emotional difficulties encountered in a UK university setting. Through the use of an in-depth semi-structured qualitative interview format, this study identified the effects, sources, and coping strategies pertaining to these learners’ anxiety in asking questions in class. This anxiety exerts compound effects on respondents with respect to their mind, body and actual speaking performance. A series of factors contributing to this anxiety are reported by respondents, which can be categorised as 1) personal and interpersonal anxiety; 2) learner beliefs about English language learning; 3) role of instructors; 4) students’ personality; 5) students’ educational and cultural background; and 6) time for asking questions. Effective strategies for coping with this anxiety reported by respondents mainly consist of 1) preparation; 2) self-encouragement; 3) peer seeking; 4) relaxation; 5) practice; and 6) ignoring others’ negative evaluations. Recommendations for EFL/ESL instructors mainly concern 1) instructors’ awareness of students’ language anxiety 2) instructors’ attitudes towards students’ questions 3) instructors’ feedback to students’ questions 4) instructors’ classroom management. Recommendations for EFL/ESL learners are almost the same as those strategies respondents reported. This study has enriched the understanding of foreign language anxiety from the perspective of foreign language classroom speaking anxiety in asking questions in class. Future research should check the effectiveness of the coping strategies reported in this study and look into other aspects of foreign language speaking anxiety.

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International Journal of English Language Teaching ISSN 2329-7913 (Print) ISSN 2329-7921 (Online)

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