A Special Case of Language Anxiety?

By Wai In Chan

In one of our last classes, Lauren Godfrey-Smith gave an amazing lecture on language anxiety and the experiences of people who went through language anxiety. It was a really emotional experience for me because I felt that the study was acknowledging and validating my feelings about speaking and learning French in Montreal. Over 25 years of my life I have been learning French as a second language in English as a first language schools, and I STILL feel so much anxiety using the language that I avoid it at all costs even until today.

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Growing up attempting to speak multiple languages was not an easy task and there were many struggles that came with it. I always felt as though, I was not competent enough in any of the languages I was speaking, whether it was my mother tongue or a new language. This lead me to being a very shy and introverted child, I was to afraid to speak any language for fear of being inadequate. Ironically years later, I learned that many others feel this way and that there is actually a name to it, Language Anxiety. I realize now it was silly of me to think I would be the only person feeling these struggles, but having someone put a name to it, was a moment of clarity.

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Language Myth of Being Native-like!

By: Faten

For a long time, languages are actually associated with certain ideologies and attitudes that shape the way how one language is used or perceived. It is interesting that Van Herk (2012) tapped on the various language myths that we, as ESL learners or teachers, exposed to almost every day which creates somehow language anxiety.

Having Lauren spoken about language anxiety on FaceTime yesterday, she mentioned very sensitive issue that attached with me as English second language learner and teacher. She spoke about three types of people who might experience language anxiety such as; multilinguals, elders and more advanced L2 speakers. Personally, what is make me feel anxious toward the language is the fact that I have to sound like natives of English in order to be advanced L2 learner or teacher. It is actually one of the language myths that strongly appeared in almost all of my language educational life. I remember when I was in the high school that I was pushed to sound like native Americans by my English teacher in order to do the class presentation perfectly! At that time, I spent plenty of time watching American English YouTube channels and movies with no subtitle and I believed at that time these were the most accurate and advanced English version existed in the world.

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Language anxiety and some possible solutions

Sihong Chen  ( blog post 1)

Last week, Alison mentioned “language anxiety”, which makes me think a lot about my language learning journey and how language anxiety influences my language learning.

From my experience, I think language anxiety has both positive and negative effects on my language learning. However, it is lucky that I always turn the negative into a positive.

I want to highlight two periods of time in my language learning journey and both of them are about English language learning, though in different places.

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How can I help my students break down the barriers of their anxiety to enable them to learn their second language?

Miss Education says:

I really enjoyed last week’s presentation on language and place, particularly the activity we discussed in groups at the end of class. The whole concept of anxiety and (second or foreign) language learning really interests me and so, I decided to do a little research in regards to this. There is one article in particular that I read and feel is worth sharing because it made me realise how important it is to take the time to address anxiety issues in order to break down the barriers that some of our students put up because of this.

Ariza (2002) writes a very touching story about the struggles she faced when having to teach “a group of terrified children, angry at the prospect of being forced to learn [a foreign language]” (p.719). Her students were American boys that were relocated to Puerto Rico due to several factors mainly linked to family issues. All of her students had very solid “affective filters” (Krashen, 1983; as cited in Ariza (2002) p. 719) which got in the way of them processing the foreign language. So, she turned to CLL (Community Language Learning) to potentially reduce the effects of these filters and get her students learning. She explains that her approach as a “counselor” (instead of teacher) was a key solution to the problem that she, but more importantly her students, was facing.

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What Gets in the Way of Language Acquisition?

Posted by Cheryl Lingjuan Yan

Last week, we talked about language globalization in class. Language globalization allows language itself and its culture to spread and dominate on a global scale. And when Alison asked a question afterwards that whether there were some scenarios in our life we felt embarrassed to speak a certain language, it reminds me of some of my personal experiences, which I think is quite relevant to the issues we were talking about. This semester I registered two language courses, one Korean language course at McGill and another French course at Concordia. Both of them are very intensive.

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