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Fear, Challenges, Frustrations, and Successes that a second languagelearner faces

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for

Writing 303

Rufino A. Abreu

York College

Jamaica, New York 11451

April 13, 2014

MAIN QUESTION: Whatemotional – psychological barriers does a second language learnerface?

Section1: How does emotional – psychologicalbarriers like fear and anxiety towards learning English as a secondlanguage affect second language learners and their performance in theclass?

Section 2: Whatare the factors causing these emotional – psychological barriers likeanxiety and fear among second language learners?

Section3: What are some of the bestsolutions that can help students learning a second language toovercome these emotional – psychological barriers?

Learninga new language, especially for second language learners, can be veryinformative and exciting for some, but it could be very difficult andfearsome for other second language learners. Most of the time, secondlanguage learners develop anxiety because of the unfamiliarity to thechallenges brought about by the pronunciation and semantic ambiguityof expressions that are present in the new language.

Anxietyand fear are some examples of emotional-psychological barriers thataffect the performance of second language learners. There is a directrelationship between fear and anxiety and the students’ learningability (Chen and Chang, 2004). Anxiety can be due to the fear ofcommunicating in the new language and a negative evaluation in testperformance (Rojas and Aquiles, 2009).Al-Khairy (2009) argues that fear and anxiety may cause demotivationwhich may invariably affect their understanding of the language.Furthermore, Tsiplakides and Keramida (2009) assertthatwhen students are demotivated, the anxiety experiencedwhile learning any foreign language will contribute greatly to thefailure among students.

Thefear and anxiety experienced by second language learners are usuallycaused by several factors. According to Nunan (1999), some of thesefactors are the insufficiency of teachers, environmental and personalfrustrations, and the lack of a supportive situation. It is importantto realize that most of the parents of some second language learnerscame from the marginalized sector of the society, and are, therefore,not high school graduates. Since they are poor, they do not have thecapacity to provide the best leaning environment for their children.Also, the absence of shared schooling experience from parents usuallyresults to children being tuned in to their native languages as Nunansuggests. In this regard, the households provide no chances for themto practice the knowledge that they get from learning in school sincetheir houses are only speaking in the native language or localdialects. These factors limit the formation of confidence amongsecond language learners which eventually develop to fear andanxiety.

Thepresence of fear and anxiety defeats the purpose of educatingstudents in a second language. Developing possible means to solvethis problem, therefore, is very important in order to improve thepresent situation. First, teachers should provide students with teststhat will help them ease their anxieties. Tsiplakides and Keramida(2009) suggest that the use of the fundamental interventionistapproach can help ease the anxiety that students experience in secondlanguage learning. Chen and Chang (2004) assert that teachers alsoplay a very big role in this area of development since they have theresponsibility to recognize the various difficulties and factors thataffect their students including the fear and anxiety they experience.These proposed solutions can help lessen the impact of anxiety andfear among second language learners, and in turn help students changetheir perspective towards learning a second language.

Basedon the information presented, it can be concluded that a properevaluation of the fear and anxiety that is experienced by secondlanguage learners is vital in devising means that will help insolving the barriers in learning a second language. Proper evaluationwill help identify the factor that causes the fear or the anxiety ofthe student so that an appropriate solution will be given. The peoplein the learning environment, teachers and family, also play a hugerole in the proper evaluation and elimination of theseemotional-psychological barriers.


Al-Khairy, M. H. (2013). English as a Foreign Language LearningDemotivational Factors as Perceived by Saudi Undergraduates.&nbspEuropeanScientific Journal,&nbsp9, 32.

Chen, T‐Y., &amp ChangG.B. (2004). The Relationship Between Foreign Language Anxiety andLearning Difficulties. Foreign Language Annals,&nbsp37 (2),279-289.

Nunan, D.(1999).&nbspSecond Language Teaching &amp Learning.Boston: Heinle &amp Heinle Pub.

Rojas, R. and Aquiles, I. (2009). &quotMaking A Case For LanguageSampling.&quot&nbspThe ASHA Leader,&nbsp14, 10-11.

Tsiplakides, I., &amp Keramida A. (2009). Helping Students OvercomeForeign Language Speaking Anxiety in the English Classroom:Theoretical Issues and Practical Recommendations. InternationalEducation Studies,&nbsp2, (4), 39-44.