Exploring the Relationship Between Variables in Fear of ‎Learning a Foreign Language

  • Ainul Rasyiqah Sazali
  • Asma’ Ammar Academy of Language Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
  • Siti Nurfiza Abdul Alahdad
  • Norasiah Yunus


Learning a foreign language is undoubtedly a challenging task for many people and is often accompanied by strong emotions. A predominant emotion is fear, which is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon that is rooted in various psychological, social, and cognitive factors. This study explores students' perspectives regarding their anxiety in learning a foreign language and addresses key inquiries such as the impact of communication apprehension, fear of negative evaluation, and test anxiety on language learning. Additionally, the research investigates the interconnections between various factors that contribute to the fear of acquiring a foreign language, with focus on Arabic language acquisition. The purpose of this study was to explore the motivation factors for learning among undergraduates at a Malaysian public university. A set of questionnaires was distributed to 260 students from various faculties at a public university in Malaysia who study Arabic as a third language. The questionnaire was systematically designed as a quantitative survey. The instrument used was a 5-point Likert-scale survey rooted in Horwitz et al.'s work (1986) to identify the variables. The survey consisted of four sections: Section A contained items on demographic profile, Section B included 11 items on motivation, and Section C comprised 33 items on fear of learning a foreign language. The findings of the study show that communication apprehension, fear of negative evaluation, and test anxiety that intersect in foreign language learning has complex emotional links. It is important to tackle these issues as conquering communication apprehension and fear of negative evaluation can increase motivation. Simultaneously, reducing test anxiety can enhance confidence and foster a more supportive environment for learning a new language. These findings emphasise the significance of addressing learners' emotional well-being to enhance their language learning journey.


Akbari, E., Naderi, A., Simons, R. J., & Pilot, A. (2016). Student engagement and foreign
language learning through online social networks. Asian-Pacific Journal of Second ‎and Foreign Language Education, 1(1), 1-22. Retrieved from: ‎https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301312985_Student_engagement_and_foreign_language_learning_through_online_social_networks ‎
Al-Khasawneh, F.M. (2016). Investigating foreign language learning anxiety: a case of Saudi
undergraduate EFL students. Journal of Language and Linguistic Studies, 12(1), 137-‎‎148. Retrieved from: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1105172.pdf‎
Alsalooli, R. A., & Al-Tale’, M. A. (2022). Saudi EFL Learners’ FLA: Levels, Causes, ‎Gender, ‎
and Impact on Academic Performance. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, ‎‎13(1),145–155. https://doi.org/10.17507/JLTR.1301.17‎
Bensalem, E. (2017). Exploring Foreign Language Anxiety among English – Major
Undergraduate Students. Journal of the North for Humanities, 160–173. ‎https://doi.org/10.12816/0031340 ‎
Dewaele, J.-M., & MacIntyre, P. D. (2014). The two faces of Janus? Anxiety and enjoyment ‎in ‎
the foreign language classroom. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, ‎‎4(2), 237-274. https://doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2014.4.2.5‎
Hamzah, A., Mustapha, N. F., Mezah Pauzi, C. R., & Wan Sulong, W. M. (2017). ‎Mengapa Guru Pelatih Bimbang Untuk Bertutur Dalam Kelas Bahasa Arab?. Jurnal ‎Kemanusiaan, 15(1-S). Retrieved From ‎https://jurnalkemanusiaan.utm.my/index.php/kemanusiaan/article/view/248‎
Hasan, M., & Al-Hasani, S. M. A. (2019). Anxiety in learning arabic language for the ‎students:a
study of selected two language centers in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Journal of ‎Literature,Languages and Linguistics, 55, 35-38.‎
Hashemi, M. (2011). Language Stress And Anxiety Among The English Language students. ‎
Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 30, 1811–1816. ‎https://doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.10.349‎
Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope J. A. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. ‎
Modern Language Journal, 70, 125-132. http://dx.doi.org/10.1s111/j.1540-‎‎4781.1986.tb05256.x‎
Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope J. A. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety.‎
Modern Language Journal, 70, 125-132. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-‎‎4781.1986.tb05256.x ‎
Jackson,S.L. (2015) Research methods and Statistics-A Critical Thinking Approach (5tH ‎
Edition) Boston, USA:: Cengage Learning.‎
MacIntyre, P.D & Gardner, R.C. (1991). Investigating Language Class Anxiety Using the
‎ Focused Essay Technique. The Modern Language Journal. 75(3), 296-304).‎
Mohammed Raffi, M. S., Ghazuddin, F., Mhd Rusdi, M. I., Amat Suparia, F. A., & Abdullah, ‎
I. (2022). The Level of Arabic Language Anxiety based on Student’s Academic ‎Background in Learning Arabic Language. Malaysian Journal of Social Sciences and ‎Humanities (MJSSH), 7(11), e001910. https://doi.org/10.47405/mjssh.v7i11.1910‎
Rahmat, N. H. (2019). Cycle of fear in learning: The case for three language skills. American ‎
Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 4(1), 151-162. Retrieved from ‎https://www.researchgate.net/publication/335000662_Cycle_of_Fear_in_Learning_The_Case_for_Three_Language_Skills
Rahmat,N.H. (2020) Investigating the Cycle of Fear in Foreign Language Learning. ‎European ‎
Journal of Foreign Language Teaching, Vol 5 (1), pp 117-127. ‎
Rodríguez, M., & Abreu, O. (2003). The stability of general foreign language classroom ‎anxiety
‎ across English and French. The Modern Language Journal, 87, 365–374.
Sadighi, F., & Dastpak, M. (2017). The sources of foreign language speakinganxiety of ‎Iranian ‎
English language learners. InternationalJournal of Education & Literacy Studies, ‎‎5(4), ‎
‎111-115. https://doi.org/10.7575/aiac.ijels.v.5n.4p.111‎
Unal, M., & Ilhan, E. (2017). A case study on the problems and suggestions in foreign ‎language ‎
teaching and learning at higher education. Journal of Education and Training Studies, ‎
‎5(6), 64-72. https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v5i6.2302‎
Wan Zarina Wan Zakaria Azizah Rajab, E. (2007). Kajian Tahap Keresahan Di Kalangan ‎
Pelajar Bahasa Asing Terhadap Mata Pelajaran Bahasa Asing, Penerbit UTM Press ‎https://www.researchgate.net/publication/242323076_kajian_tahap_keresahan_di_kalangan_pelajar_bahasa_asing_terhadap_mata_pelajaran_bahasa_asing
Worde, R. V. (2003). Students’ perspectives of foreign language anxiety. Inquiry, 8(1). ‎
Retrieved from www.vccaedu.org/inquiry/inq
Zheng, Y., & Cheng, L. (2018). How does anxiety influence language performance? From ‎the ‎
perspectives of foreign language classroom anxiety and cognitive test anxiety. ‎Language Testing in Asia, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40468-018-0065‎
How to Cite
SAZALI, Ainul Rasyiqah et al. Exploring the Relationship Between Variables in Fear of ‎Learning a Foreign Language. Asian Journal of Research in Education and Social Sciences, [S.l.], v. 6, n. 1, p. 89-103, mar. 2024. Available at: <https://myjms.mohe.gov.my/index.php/ajress/article/view/24979>. Date accessed: 20 may 2024.
English Section