Volume 12, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
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The affective aspects of language learning have been the subject of much discussion in literature, both in their positive and negative manifestations.

This paper is concerned with negative affect in formal classes, upon English-speaking adults learning foreign languages in the adult education mode, as a compulsory element of a higher degree. The paper is based on diaries which students were required to keep as part of the course. The diaries were primarily intended to facilitate deliberate introspection and explicit consideration by the students of their own learning process and the various factors, linguistic and non-linguistic, which affected their learning.

Diary and introspective studies as a qualitative, rather than a quantitative tool for research into language learning, have been undertaken by Bailey (1983), Schumann (1977 and 1980), McDonough (1978) and Rivers (1983).

They do not however deal with the quite startling fears and anxieties manifested in our study nor with the consequences for their success or otherwise in language learning.

This paper sets out to provide details of student perceptions, especially the sometimes extreme manifestations of fear and anxiety they reveal. The authors hypothesize, on the basis of the diaries, that it is the individual’s “language boundary” or “language ego” which is severely threatened by public exposure in the foreign language classroom and which results in these manifestations of fear, anxiety and regression.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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