Examining the Reading Anxiety Phenomenon of Arab EFL learners
The anxiety phenomenon has been widely acknowledged as one of the most important psychological phenomena. Theorists and second language researchers claimed that anxiety and language learning are associated. Thus learners who portray low levels of anxiety allow more and better input into the brain, increasing their language learning performance. However this may not be the case for many learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). They face challenges of learning new vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation and reading in the target language. In reading, most of the texts require critical synthesis, evaluation and interpretation to comprehend the authors’ point of views. These reading experiences may increase students’ levels of anxiety if they are unprepared for such demands. As a result, learners become tense and continue to experience high levels of anxiety as they suffer from poor performance in their studies. The objective of this paper is to examine the reading anxiety phenomenon experienced by a group of Arab students in their learning of English as a foreign language (EFL). Data was collected from 34 postgraduate Arab EFL students using the FLRAS (Foreign Language Reading Anxiety Scale) and focus group interviews. Data was analysed using descriptive statistics and tabulated in the form of mean frequency to answer the research questions posed. Findings revealed that cultural content, vocabulary, grammar, topic and lack of self-confidence were factors that impact students’ reading anxiety. The paper concludes with a discussion on the implications and suggestions for teaching reading within an EFL context.
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