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A Study on the Sources and Coping Strategies of Anxiety About English Academic Oral Presentations Among Taiwanese EFL Graduate Students
Dr. Yu-Show Cheng
English speaking anxiety
sources of anxiety
anxiety coping strategy
The present study aimed to investigate the development, sources, and coping strategies of second language (English) speaking anxiety in the face of academic oral presentations among Taiwanese EFL graduate students. A qualitative research approach was adopted, and six EFL graduate students recruited from the TESOL MA program at NTNU (National Taiwan Normal University) participated in this study. The process of data collection lasted for a semester (18 weeks). During the data collection period, the participants’ oral presentations were observed and videotaped; they were also interviewed weekly and required to keep self-reports. Major research results are as follows. First, the participants reported to experience the highest level of anxiety at three different points of time: (1) during the presentation; (2) at the beginning of the presentation; and (3) before the presentation. It was also found that how the participants’ anxiety fluctuated within each presentation task was closely related to the anxiety sources they experienced. Second, seven sources of English academic oral presentation anxiety were revealed, including : (1) fear of negative evaluation from the authority; (2) worry of uncertainty; (3) seeking impeccability; (4) unfamiliar audience; (5) pressure of comparison; (6) standard matching; and (7) maintaining self-esteem. These sources have their root in three factors: the presence of the classroom authority (course instructors), the presence of the peers (classmates), and presenters’ self-expectations. Third, four anxiety coping strategies were discovered. At the preparation stage, EFL graduate students would (1) seek help from their professors or classmates, (2) seek comfort from friends, or (3) develop personalized working styles and presentation techniques; and during their presentations on stage, they would (4) seek support from the audience. Based on the research findings, several pedagogical implications are offered. First, presentations in graduate courses are recommended to be conducted in a form of guided discussions rather than solo demonstration of academic competence. Second, course instructors, the authority in the classrooms, are suggested to offer clear instructions and grading criteria for oral presentations, and give advice for further improvements on students’ performances in a more genial manner. Third, advanced EFL learners are suggested to maintain feasible self-expectations and accept minor flaws in order to reduce anxiety during academic oral presentations. Finally, it is recommended that students support each other by actively participating in the presentations as responsive listeners.
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