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Life-long effects of foreign language anxiety

Abstract/Résumé: Traditionally foreign language anxiety is examined during the learning process and the most popular instrument for measuring it is Horowitz’s (1986) Foreign language classroom anxiety survey (FLCAS), which is normally applied to measure learners’ anxiety effects on their language proficiency. This case study will use the instrument to examine the foreign language classroom anxiety in retrospect to establish the effects of the classroom anxiety in a longer perspective on one’s life long language learning and use for professional needs. The foreign language anxiety will be studied in relation to the use of meta-cognitive strategies and findings of Kalnberzina (2001, 2012). Foreign language anxiety is considered as social and situational anxiety (Gardner and MacIntyre, 1991 and Horwitz, 1986) caused by the language users' inability to express themselves adequately. Horwitz et al (1986) consider that the essence of foreign language anxiety is the threat to the individual’s self-concept caused by the inherent limitations of communicating in an imperfectly mastered second language. Schlenker and Leary (1985) also consider that the intimate relationship between self-concept and self-expression makes foreign language anxiety distinct from other academic anxieties. Meta-cognitive competence is a three-factor concept, consisting of goal setting, planning and assessment strategies. The interaction between the meta-cognitive strategy areas is strong and bi-directional as shown by Bachman and Palmer's (1996). Assessment strategy acts as a causal factor for both foreign language test and classroom anxiety, which agrees with Eysenck’s (1992) view that anxiety has a cognitive basis. On the other hand classroom anxiety also activates both planning and assessment strategies. This supports Scherer’s view that appraisal is at the basis of affect, but it is not enough; my study suggests, that in its turn, affect influences meta-cognition and one’s life-long learning, self-percept and consequently career perspectives.