Students’ Perceived Competence Affecting Level of Anxiety in Learning English as a Foreign Language

Article Title: Students’ Perceived Competence Affecting Level of Anxiety in Learning English as a Foreign Language

Author(s): Sarwat Sultan

Institute(s): Bahauddin Zakariya University, Mullan, Pakistan.

Journal: Pakistan Journal of Psychological Research 2012, Vol. 27, No. 2, 225-239

Correspondence Address: Sarwat Sultan, Department of Applied Psychology, Bahauddin Zakariya University, Mullan, Pakistan. E-mail:


Learners’ experiences, instructors’ observations, and review of western literature evidenced that students’ perceived competency affects the experience of anxiety while learning foreign language. This study was also an extension of knowing the students’ perceived competence level as an independent variable affecting their levels of anxiety in learning foreign language particularly in the Pakistani context. To explore the gender differences in the variables under study was another objective of the present study. A randomly selected sample of 157 students from eight English language learning classes in Bahauddin Zakariya University, Multan, Pakistan was used. Two instruments were employed: The Perceived Competence Scale (Williams & Deci, 1996) and Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986). Data were analyzed by independent sample 1-test, and Two-Way Analysis of Variance. Students with low perceived competence experienced more feelings of anxiety as compared to the students with high perceived competence. Analysis for gender showed that male students had higher competency, therefore, experienced low anxiety, communication apprehension, and negative feelings of evaluation than female students. The results also indicated that gender of students and their perceived competency interact leading to language learning anxiety.

Keywords: perceived competence, langnage learning anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, communication apprehension

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