Effective Strategies to Decrease Anxiety in Iranian Beginner and Intermediate EFL Learners’ Oral Performance
The purpose of this study was to investigate the factors which make students feel anxious while speaking English in their language classrooms. To achieve such a goal, sixty-two undergraduatestudents (15 males and 47 females), majoring in English language teaching at Yasouj State University were chosen to take part in this study. The participants were comprised of twenty-eight freshmen and thirty-four sophomores. Homogeneous sampling, which is a type of purposive sampling, was utilized in this study. To achieve such a goal, only freshmen and sophomores who had passed conversation courses I and IIwere selected. Three research instruments were utilized in this study: A TOEFL test developed by Mason (1983) to determine the proficiency level of the participants, the FLCAS developed by Horwitz,et al. (1986) to gauge the anxiety level, and a semi-structured interview in order to find out causes of anxiety in students while speaking English in their classroom. The data obtained through the proficiency test underwent a number of statistical procedures to determine the language knowledge of the students. In the second part, the data obtained through FLCAS Questionnaire underwent a number of statistical procedures to determine students with the highest level of anxiety. And finally, the data obtained through semi-structured interview were analyzed through thematic content analysis. The results revealed that instructional sources of anxiety (including teacher-related sources of anxiety, teachers’ general conduct, error correction by the teacher, and teaching style), language-related sources of anxiety, affective sources of anxiety (including lack of self-confidence and fear of making mistakes and being ridiculed), social-sources of anxiety (including classroom environment and nature of speaking activity) are anxiety-provoking causes in students while speaking English in their language classrooms. Results also indicated that engaging students in group work, building self-confidence in language learners, creating an anxiety-free classroom situation, and providing background knowledge are effective strategies to help EFL learners decrease their anxiety levels in oral performance.
key words: Anxiety, Oral performance