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A Study of Japanese Students' Anxiety in Leaning Chinese
Second language anxiety
Chinese classroom anxiety
Chinese as a Second Language
Language learning anxiety is a widely-discussed topic. Many studies have identified anxiety as a main factor that induces an affective filter that blocks input the learner would otherwise use to continually attain greater language proficiency. However, few studies regarding learning anxiety have focused on the teaching of Chinese as a second language. The present study was therefore designed to investigate the factors related to language learning anxiety and the relationship between these factors and learners’ individual differences, as well as suggestions for instructors to lessen Japanese students’ anxiety in the Chinese language classroom. 209 students enrolled in Tokyo Gakugei University’s Chinese class in Japan were surveyed and 18 were interviewed to gain a better understanding of the anxiety involved in learning Chinese. This study identifies “the fear of speaking in public” as the factor that makes Japanese learners most anxious. Aside from “the fear of speaking in public,” internal factors, such as “confidence in one’s Chinese ability,” “tolerance for ambiguity” and “one’s attitude toward Chinese classes” are all sources of Chinese learning anxiety. These are relatively stronger influences when compared with external factors, which include “the learning medium,” “peer-evaluation anxiety,” or “the teacher’s instruction.” In terms of individual differences, male students experience greater stress than female students when learning Chinese. Individuals who have spent more hours learning Chinese are more likely to experience higher levels of anxiousness toward Chinese classes, peer-evaluation, fear of speaking in public and confidence in one’s Chinese ability. Those who have either traveled or lived in Chinese-speaking countries have shown a lower degree of anxiety. And learners who have never experienced cross-language or cultural interaction with foreigners have greater anxiety. Last but not least, Japanese learners’ speaking anxiety is closely related to the “shame culture” and “group orientation” in Japanese culture. In order to reduce Japanese students’ anxiety over learning Chinese, this research provides several concrete suggestions regarding students’ individual differences, including gender, language levels and related experiences, classroom interaction, teaching approaches and content, and helping learners self-adjust.
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