Overcoming English as a Foreign Language Anxiety
| Education Jagat - 16 Feb 2021

David D. Perrodin is an English Language Specialist with Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand. He has been deeply involved in English education for most of his twenty years as a teacher, examiner, and teacher trainer in primary and secondary schools, universities, and language development centers across the globe. In addition to having acquired several prestigious teaching qualifications and certifications, he also holds a Bachelor in Secondary Education with honors and a Master of Arts in Teaching with honors, both with concentrations in English. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Linguistics for English Language Teaching at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, Thailand.
EF Education First estimated that it takes a little over 1,000 hours of instruction for a beginner English language learner to reach upper-intermediate proficiency (CEFR B2) required by most global employers. According to the current EF English Proficiency Index, most language learners seem to not have the time nor the motivation to reach even an elementary proficiency (CEFR A2) level of English.
 Numerous studies have shown that this lack of enthusiasm may stem from Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA). FLA is the feeling of apprehension or nervousness experienced in learning or using English as a foreign language. Symptoms of FLA range from perspiring and shortness of breath to visibly trembling and even crying. Studies also showed that FLA was dramatically reduced by the learner becoming more familiar with English.
 Professor Stephen Krashen provided one of the most obvious answers for overcoming FLA. He said that for a learner to become proficient in a language, they simply need natural comprehensible and compelling exposure to that language. Natural exposure to a language is accomplished by listening to the language being used naturally or reading it in its natural written form. Yet, most EFL learners do not have access to authentic native English speakers to teach the language or with whom the learners can practice.
 Computer-assisted language learning (CALL) may be an answer for providing a supportive environment where a learner can individually develop their language skills without having access to an authentic native English speaker teacher. CALL is interactively using computer and smartphone applications in language learning. There are many types of CALL, from multimedia video clips to social media instant messaging and forums to game-based learning (GBL) applications and software.
 Language learners have reported that using individualized modern self-paced CALL has reduced their experiences of FLA. According to FluentU, CALL possibly reduces FLA by catering interesting and engaging lessons to the individual differences of the language learner. CALL continually breaks down complex topics into smaller easier to comprehend pieces of information, thereby allowing learners to observe their learning progress in order to help create intrinsic motivation. As well, CALL promotes and encourages active interaction in the use of English as a foreign language. Nevertheless, with all the wonderful benefits of CALL, learners still spend countless hours stressing about using the correct vocabulary and perfect pronunciation.
 The truth is that all learners only need to be intelligible communicators, not perfect copies of native English speakers. If the language learner wants to use vocabulary naturally, then all they have to do is mimic what they hear or read. Listening to authentic natural English is accomplished by watching a movie, the news, or YouTube videos, or listening to podcasts where they are using English naturally. Reading authentic natural English is easily accomplished by reading newspapers or magazine articles, or interesting books are written in English. Again, listening to or reading natural English, as mentioned previously, will assist most language learners in reducing FLA by allowing them to become familiar with natural English.
 Better pronunciation of English is as well easy to accomplish. Everyone nowadays has a smartphone. There are many applications for smartphones like Line, WhatsApp, WeChat, or Messenger which are able to use talk-to-text functions. These applications support many languages, with English being one. Simply speak into your phone, and if the application correctly types what you are saying, then your pronunciation is intelligible. If the application does not recognize what you are saying, then continue to practice pronouncing the word until the application recognizes what you are saying.
 Practicing writing English is just as easy. There are many applications available to assist learners in becoming better writers. Grammarly, Ginger, WhiteSmoke, or PaperRater are just some of the many applications available. Then there are some fantastic applications that help learners practice all primary English skills, such as Beelingu, Duolingo, The British Council, and the BBC Learning English.
 To conclude, learners do not need access to authentic native English speakers to use English better. They only need a bit of intrinsic motivation. The learner should find applications that work best for their English learning needs. Eventually, increasing exposure to naturally produced English for the language learner will ultimately reduce their foreign language anxiety.
  Learning and using English as a foreign language should be fun. Remember, everyone makes mistakes initially, but the more you use English, the fewer mistakes you will make.

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