Since my thesis is mainly devoted to exploration of language anxiety in classroom settings, I’ve been reading various literatures describing this type of emotion. And I would like to share some of my readings in order to see your responses to my questions and help you to complete your 8 comments. Enjoy my hopefully-easy-to-read-and-comment blog!
To begin, development of psychology as a separate branch of science takes relatively short period of time. In this sense, the study of anxiety in this area has “a long past, but only a short history” (Spielberger, 2013, p. 245). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders prepared by American Psychiatric Association (2013) indicates that “fear is the emotional response to real or perceived imminent threat, whereas anxiety is anticipation of future threat” (p. 189, italics added). In this sense, both emotional states are closely related to classroom situations. Fear of being involved in upcoming activities like speaking in front of a class, taking exam, and having a conversation with peers might trigger learner’s negative emotional state like anxiety. Spielberger (2013) identifies three characteristics of anxiety appraisals as follows: symbolic, anticipatory and uncertain. No time to describe all of them, so let’s get to the point:
Symbolic characteristics of anxiety are described as threats which are not definite, actual events, but are linked to beliefs, perceptions, values “to which the person is heavily committed” (Spielberger, 2013, p. 247). The author states that the inevitableness of anxiety is related to man’s close emotional attachment to symbols, whilst the symbols in turn tend to obtain meaning and construct man’s world. Thereby, a person experiences anxiety when these symbols “no longer fit the reality or are in danger of disintegration” (Spielberger, 2013, p. 247). For instance, in the case of language learning in education, student may regard high GPA in transcript as a symbol of high level of qualification and linguistic competence, while low results undermine student’s positive beliefs and might lead to anxiety.
Do you consider symbolic appraisal of anxiety as one of the widely spread phenomenon among students in current education system? Have you ever encountered this characteristic of anxiety in your educational past? And what could be done by teachers to reduce these impediments in learning during the class? Or is this type of anxiety is being artificially created by parents and environment during the upbringing period and deeply tied to our culture?
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (DSM-5®). American Psychiatric Pub.
Spielberger, C. D. (Ed.). (2013). Anxiety: Current trends in theory and research. Elsevier.
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