Speaking Anxiety in the Interlanguage of Kurdish University Students of English: A Quantitative Study


  • Inaad Mutlib Sayer Department of English, College of Language, University of Human Development, Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan Region, Iraq




Speaking anxiety, foreign language anxiety, Kurdish EFL students, Interlanguage


The aim of this study was to investigate the level of speaking anxiety in the interlanguage of Kurdish EFL students at the University of Human Development (UHD), to find out which component of the participants’ interlanguage (phonology, grammar and meaning) contributes more to speaking anxiety, to assess the effect of gender and level of study on the participants’ speaking anxiety, and to examine the correlation between the three components of the participants’ interlanguage as far as speaking anxiety is concerned. The study utilized a quantitative method represented by a 5-point Likert scale questionnaire consisting of 18 items responded to by 106 Kurdish university EFL students from three semesters at UHD. The statistical analyses of the collected data revealed that the participants had a low to moderate level of speaking anxiety, meaning was the most contributing component of the participants’ interlanguage to speaking anxiety, gender and level of study exhibited no significant impact on speaking anxiety and there was a strong positive correlation between the three components of the participants’ interlanguage (phonology, grammar, meaning) as far as speaking anxiety is concerned.


Aida, Y. (1994). Examination of Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope's construct of foreign language anxiety: The case of students of Japanese. The Modern Language Journal, 78(2), 155-168.

Al-Khasawneh, F.M. (2016). Investigating foreign language learning anxiety: a case of Saudi undergraduate EFL learners. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 12(1), 137-148.

Al-Saraj, T. (2014). Revisiting the foreign language classroom anxiety scale (FLCAS): The anxiety of female English language learners in Saudi Arabia. L2 Journal, 6(1), 50-76.

Alshahrani, M. (2016). The level of anxiety on the achievement of the Saudi EFL learners. Arab World English Journal (AWEJ), 7(3), 65-76.

Arnaiz, P., & Guillén, P. (2012). Foreign language anxiety in a Spanish university setting:

Interpersonal differences. Revista de Psicodidáctica, 17(1), 5-26.

Awan, R., Azher, M., Anwar, M. N., & Naz, A. (2010). An investigation of foreign language classroom anxiety and its relationship with students’ achievement. Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC),7(11), 33-40.https://doi.org/10.19030/tlc.v7i11.249

Azizifar, A., Faryadian, E., & Gowhary, H. (2014). The effect of anxiety on Iranian EFL learners speaking skill. Applied and Basic Sciences, 8(10), 1747-1754.

Bensalem, E. (2018). Foreign language anxiety of EFL students: Examining the effect of self-efficacy, self-perceived proficiency and sociobiographical variables. Arab World English Journal, 9 (2).


Çağatay, S. (2015). Examining EFL students’ foreign language speaking anxiety: The case at a Turkish state university. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 199, 648-656.

Campbell, C. M., & Ortiz, J. (1991). Helping students overcome foreign language anxiety: A foreign language anxiety workshop. In E. K. Horwitz & D. J. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 153–168). Englewood, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Campbell, C. M., & Shaw, V. M. (1994). Language anxiety and gender differences in adult second language learners: Exploring the relationship. In C. A. Klee (Ed.), Faces in a Crowd: The Individual Learner in Multisection Courses (pp. 215-243). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Cayli, M. B., (2020). An analysis of EFL learners’ foreign language anxiety and their motivation to learn English. Electronic Theses and Dissertations.1900.https://egrove.olemiss.edu/etd/1900

Çubukçu, F. (2008). A study on the correlation between self efficacy and foreign language learning anxiety. Journal of Theory and Practice in Education, 4 (1):148-158.

Day, C., & Gu, Q. (2013). Resilient teachers, resilient schools: Building and sustaining quality in testing times. New York, NY: Routledge.

Dewaele, J. M., Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2008). The effects of trait emotional intelligence and sociobiographical variables on communicative anxiety and foreign language anxiety among adult multilinguals: A re- view and empirical investigation. Language Learning, 58, 911-960.

Doğan, C. (2016). Self-efficacy and anxiety within an EFL context. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 12 (2), 54-65.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The psychology of the language learner: Individual differences in second language acquisition. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.

Elkhafaifi, H. (2005). Listening comprehension and anxiety in the Arabic language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 89 (2), 206-220.

Ellis, R. (2015). Understanding second language acquisition (2nd ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ezzi, N. A. A. (2012). The impact of gender on the foreign language anxiety of the Yemeni university students. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, 1(2), 65-75. doi:10.7575/ijalel.v.1n.2p.65.

Fox, J., & Weisberg, S. (2020). car: Companion to Applied Regression. [R package]. Retrieved from https://cran.r-project.org/package=car.

Gardner, R. C., & MacIntyre, P. D. (1993). A student’s contribution to second language learning. Part II: Affective variables. Language Teaching, 26, 211–220.

Horwitz, E. (1995). Student affective reactions and the teaching and learning of foreign languages. International Journal of Educational Research, Vol. 23, Issue 7, 573-579, doi.org/10.1016/0883-0355(96)80437-X.

Horwitz, E. (2000). It ain't over 'til it's over: On foreign language anxiety, first language deficits, and the confounding of variables, Modern Language Journal, Vol. 84 No. 2, 256-59.

Horwitz, E. (2001). Language anxiety and achievement. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 112-126.


Horwitz, E. K., & Young, D. J. (Eds.) (1991). Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. Modern Language Journal, 70, 125–132.

Javid, C. Z. (2014). Measuring language anxiety in an EFL context. Journal of Education and Practice, Vol.5, No.25, 180-192.

Kao, P., & Craigie, P. (2010). Foreign language anxiety and English achievement in Taiwanese undergraduate English-major students: an empirical study. Hong Kung Journal 61, 49–62

Karatas, H., Alci, B., Bademcioglu, M., & Ergin, A. (2016). An investigation into university students’ foreign language speaking anxiety. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 232, 382-388.

Kayaoğlu, M. N., & Sağlamel, H. (2013). Students’ perceptions of language anxiety in speaking classes. Journal of History Culture and Art Research, 2(2), 142-160.

Kiliç, S. (2018) The relationship between emotional intelligence and foreign language anxiety among EFL preparatory school students. Unpublished MA thesis.

Koch, A. S., & Terrell, T. D. (1991). Affective reactions of foreign language students to natural approach activities and teaching techniques. In E. K. Horwitz & D. J. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 109–126). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Krashen, S. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition. New York: Pergamon.

Liu, M. (2006). Anxiety in Chinese EFL students at different proficiency levels. System, 34(3), 301-316.https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2006.04.004

Liu, M., & Jackson, J. (2008). An exploration of Chinese EFL learners’ unwillingness to communicate and foreign language anxiety. Modern Language Journal, 92(1), 71-86. doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2008.00687.x

Lu, Z., & Liu, M. (2011). Foreign language anxiety and strategy use: A study with Chinese undergraduate EFL learners. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 2 (6), 1298-1305.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1991). Methods and results in the study of foreign language anxiety: A review of the literature. Language Learning, 41, 85–117.

MacIntyre, P. D., Baker, S. C., Clément, R., & Donovan, L. A. (2002). Sex and age effects on willingness to communicate, anxiety, perceived competence, and L2 motivation among junior high school French immersion students. Language Leaning, 52(3), 537-564.

Mahmoodzadeh, M. (2012). Investigating foreign language speaking anxiety within the EFL learner’s interlanguage system: The case of Iranian learners. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 3 (3), 466-476. doi.org/10.4304/jltr.3.3.466-476

Marwan, A. (2007). Investigating students’ foreign language anxiety. Malaysian Journal of ELT Research, Vol 3, 37-55.

Matsuda, S., & Gobel, P. (2004). Anxiety and predictors of performance in the foreign language classroom. System, 32, 21-36.

Melouah, A. (2013). Foreign language anxiety in EFL speaking classrooms: A case study of first-year LMD students of English at Saad Dahlab University of Blida, Algeria. Arab World English Journal, 4(1), 64-76.

Miskam, N. N. & Saidalvi, A. (2019). Investigating English language speaking anxiety among Malaysian undergraduate learners. Asian Social Science; Vol. 15, No. 1, 1-7. doi:10.5539/ass.v15n1p1

Mohtasham, L. & Farnia, M. (2017). English speaking anxiety: A study of the effect of gender on Iranian EFL university students’ perceptions. International Journal of Research in English Education, Vol. 2, No, 4, 66 – 79.

Ohata, K. D. (2005). Potential sources of anxiety for Japanese learners of English: Preliminary case of interviews with five Japanese college students in the US. TESL-EJ, 9 (3), 2-23.

Öztürk, G., & Gürbüz, N. (2013). The impact of gender on foreign language speaking anxiety and motivation. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 70, 654-665.

Öztürk, G., & Gürbüz, N. (2014). Speaking anxiety among Turkish EFL learners: The case at a state university. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 10 (1), 1-17.

Qaddomi, H. (2013). Investigating Al-Quds Open University students' EFL learning anxiety. An-Najah Univ. J. Res. (Humanities), 27(7), 1533-1562.

R Core Team (2021). R: A Language and environment for statistical computing. (Version 4.1) [Computer software]. Retrieved from https://cran.r-project.org. (R packages retrieved from MRAN snapshot 2022-01-01).

Riasati, M. J. (2011). Language learning anxiety from EFL learners’ perspective. Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 7(6), 907-914.

Scovel, T. (1978). The effect of affect on foreign language learning: A review of the anxiety research. Language Learning, 28 (1), 129-142. doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-1770.1978.tb00309.x

Sharif, M. Y., & Ferdous, F. (2012). Sources and suggestions to lower listening comprehension anxiety in the EFL classroom: A case study. English Language Teaching, 5 (10), 92-105.

Siyli, N. A., & Kafes, H. (2015). Overrunning speaking anxiety through audio journals. International Journal of Language Studies, 9 (1), 23-40.

Subaşı, G. (2010). What are the main sources of Turkish EFL students’ anxiety in oral practice? Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry, 1(2), 29-49.

Tahsildar, N. D., & Kabiri, A. (2019). The relationship between Afghanistan EFL students’ academic self-efficacy and English language speaking anxiety. Academy Journal of Educational Sciences, Vol. 3, Issue 2, 190-202.

Tanveer, M. (2007). Investigation of the factors that cause language anxiety for ESL/EFL learners in learning speaking skills and the influence it casts on communication in the target language. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Glasgow, United Kingdom.

The jamovi project (2022). jamovi. (Version 2.3) [Computer Software]. Retrieved from https://www.jamovi.org.

Tien, Ching-Yi (2018). English speaking anxiety in EFL university classrooms in Taiwan. European Journal of English Language Teaching, Vol. 4, Issue 2, 21-34. doi: 10.5281/zenodo.1473161.

Toubot, A. M., Seng, G. H., & Abdullah, A. A. (2018). Examining levels and factors of speaking anxiety among EFL Libyan English undergraduate students. International Journal of Applied Linguistics & English Literature, Vol. 7 Issue 5, 47-56.

Young, D. J. (1986). The relationship between anxiety and foreign language oral proficiency ratings. Foreign Language Annals, 19, 439–445.

Young, D. J. (1991). Creating a low-anxiety classroom environment: What does language anxiety research suggest? Modern Language Journal, 75 (4), 426–439. doi.org/10.2307/329492

Zhiping, D. and Paramasivam, S. (2013). Anxiety of speaking English in class among international students in a Malaysian university. International Journal of Education and Research, 1 (11), 1-16.

Zia, Zi. and Norrihan, S. (2015). EFL learners’ levels of classroom performance anxieties and their causes in classroom speaking activities in Afghanistan. International Journal of English and Education, 4 (1). pp. 239-249.