Public Speaking Anxiety or English Language Anxiety?

  • Wan Noor Farah Wan Shamsuddin
  • Ng Wen Lee
  • Ain Nadzimah Abdullah
  • Chan Swee Heng


Aligned with the industry demands to equip tertiary students with essential communication skills, courses like Public Speaking have been introduced in universities to develop and strengthen students’ practical communication skills. This course can be tailored for various domains such as academic, personal and public communication.  In current literature, most studies are done to measure language anxiety in specific language skills such as reading and writing but there is a lack of literature that highlights specifically on public speaking anxiety. Therefore, this paper analyses 40 students’ responses to an anxiety questionnaire, the Public Speaking Class Anxiety Scale (PSCAS) developed by Yaikhong and Usaha (2012).  This study   identifies specific causes of public speaking anxiety among the participants. The findings reveal that the students are more anxious about having to speak in English than having to speak in public. The students also confirmed that they have a fear of speaking English and this ties up with   not being able to enjoy speaking in the language. The study also highlights that that audience size seems to play a crucial role when students are presenting. In view of the findings, more coping strategies should be implemented to overcome students’ anxiety towards the speaking the English language. A main issue is apparently the lack of confidence about the use of the language.  Instructors for Public Speaking courses will have   to equip   students with the necessary language skills to overcome fear in public speaking.


Akin, C., & Kunzman, G. G. (2012).A group desensitization approach to public speaking anxiety. Canadian Journal of Counselling and Psychotherapy, 8(2), 106-111.
Ambatchew, M. D. (2003). The effects of primary English readers on reading skills in Ethiopia. Unpublished dissertation, University of Pretoria etd.
Cheng, Y. (2002). Factors associated with foreign language writing anxiety. Foreign Language Annals, 35(1), 645-656.
Clevenger, T., & Halvorson, S. K. (1992). Converting the PRCA-State Version 2 to the Speech Anxiety Scale. Tallahassee, The Florida State University.
Dzulkifly, D. (2018, November 8) Employers blame poor communication, language skills for unemployed Bumi grads. Malay Mail. Retrieved from
Fraenkel, J. R. & Wallen, N. E. (2009). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York. McGraw-Hill.
Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B. & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. Modern Language Journal, 85(5), 549-566.
Ka-kan-dee, M., & Al-Shaibani, G. K. S. (2018). Tourism Students’ Oral Presentation Anxiety: A Case Study. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 26(T), 231-256.
Kelly, L., & Watson, A. K. (1986). Speaking with confidence and skill. New York: Harper & Row Press.
Khamkhien, A. (2010). Teaching English speaking and English speaking tests in the Thai context: A reflection from Thai perspective. English Language Teaching, 3(2), 184- 190.
Kim, S. Y. (1998). Affective experiences of Korean college students in different instructional contexts: Anxiety and motivation in reading and conversation courses. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The University of Texas, Austin.
McCain, L. (2012). Public speaking fear? 21 secrets to succeed in front of any crowd. Scotland: Laurenzana Press.
McCroskey, J. C. (1977). Classroom consequences of communication apprehension. Communication Education, 56(1), 509-514.
Ministry of Education (2015) Executive Summary Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Preschool To Post-Secondary Education). [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 August 2019].
NST Education (2019, June 19). Preparing undergraduates for the workplace. News Straits Times. Retrieved from
Pramela, K., Noraza, A. Z., Nurjanah, M. J., Kemboja, I. and Nadzrah, A. B. (2016). Initiating a Peer Support Centre for English Language Presentations: Issues and Challenges. Pertanika Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 26(S), 37-44.
Raja, F. (2017). Anxiety level in students of public speaking. Journal of Education and Educational Development. 4(1), 94-110.
Ting, S. H., Marzuki, E., Chuah, K. M., Misieng, J. & Jerome, C. (2017). Employer’s views on the importance of English proficiency and communication skills for employability in Malaysia. Indonesian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 7(1), 315-327.
Yaikhong, K. & Usaha, S. (2012) A measure of EFL Public Speaking Class Anxiety: Scale development and preliminary validation and reliability. English Language Teaching, 5(12), 23-35.
Young, D. J. (1999). Affect in foreign language and second language learning: A practical guide to creating a low-anxiety classroom atmosphere. Boston. McGraw-Hill.
How to Cite
WAN SHAMSUDDIN, Wan Noor Farah et al. Public Speaking Anxiety or English Language Anxiety?. International Journal of Advanced Research in Education and Society, [S.l.], v. 3, n. 2, p. 58-65, june 2021. ISSN 2682-8138. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 26 may 2022.