Date of Graduation

Winter 2017

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

College/School

School of Education

Department

Learning and Instruction

Program

Learning & Instruction EdD

First Advisor

Robert Burns

Second Advisor

Kevin Oh

Third Advisor

Helen Maniates

Abstract

The growing worldwide enthusiasm in learning Chinese calls for more research on learner characteristics in Chinese classrooms to better inform teaching practice. Language anxiety, which falls under the umbrella of learner’s affect, is considered an important affective aspect that negatively influences language learning and acquisition. As research on language anxiety mainly focused on the learning of Western languages, this study constitutes an initial attempt to investigate anxiety in the learning of Chinese through the testing of a structural model. The purpose of the study was to examine the relative importance of language anxiety in predicting Chinese achievement when motivation, integrativeness, and attitudes toward the learning situation were controlled.

The study took place in a Southwestern university in China. Adopting a correlational design, this study measured 14 variables from which five constructs were formed—anxiety, motivation, integrativeness, attitudes toward learning situation, and Chinese achievement. The anxiety measures were from the Chinese language learning anxiety scale. The motivational measures were adapted from the international attitude and motivation test battery. The achievement measures included a HSK listening test, a HSK reading test, and students’ final course grades. A total of 223 students from the International College participated in this study. Students completed a written survey containing all the anxiety and motivational measures. Then they took the HSK listening and reading test. Students’ course grades in the Comprehensive Chinese course were collected at the end of the spring semester.

The findings of structural equation modeling suggested that language anxiety negatively predicted Chinese achievement when motivation and attitudes toward the learning situation were controlled. Students’ attitudes toward the learning situation predicted their motivation, but motivation did not predict Chinese achievement. The follow-up analysis showed that motivation predicted student’s course grades but not their performance on the HSK tests. It can be concluded that language anxiety had a negative effect on language achievement for international learners of Chinese. Teachers were recommended to have an awareness of the nervousness and discomfort experienced by their students in language classrooms and to take measures to create a low-anxiety learning environment.

Comments

Foreign language education

COinS