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Sources of listening anxiety in learners of German as a foreign language

Anxiety in language learning is an important factor in the process of studying a foreign language. While much of the research up to date has focused on learners of English (Zhai, 2015; Elaldi, 2016) and specifically on anxiety in the skill of speaking (Woodrow, 2006; Gkonou, 2011), little is known about learners of German and their listening anxiety in relation to the foreign language. This project explores the sources of foreign language listening anxiety (FLLA) in learners of German from various proficiency levels. The study design implemented in this research project is qualitative. For the data collection, fourteen language learners from three proficiency levels were interviewed about their FLLA and their anxiety-reducing strategies. The interview questions were based on those developed by Otair and Aziz (2017), and the interviews were semi-structured. The sessions were audio-recorded and transcribed, and the data was analysed through thematic coding. The main sources of FLLA were divided into four categories: (1) general factors, (2) factors related to the setting, (3) language-specific factors, and (4) factors related to the topic. The results show that the sources of FLLA did not differ significantly among learners from the three proficiency levels except in the setting- specific type. Finally, while numerous listening strategies were discovered through this study, the main ones, which students claimed to use in order to lower their anxiety, were found to be focusing on the familiar words and the topic and paying close attention to the conversation.

 Elaldi, S. (2016). Foreign Language Anxiety of Students Studying English Language and Literature: A Sample from Turkey. Educational Research and Reviews, 11(6), 219–228. 
Gkonou, C. (2011). Anxiety over EFL speaking and writing: A view from language classrooms. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 1(2), 267.
Otair, I., & Aziz, N. H. A. (2017). Exploring the Causes of Listening Comprehension Anxiety from EFL Saudi Learners’ Perspectives: A Pilot Study. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 8(4), 79.
Woodrow, L. (2006). Anxiety and Speaking English as a Second Language. RELC Journal, 37(3), 308–328.
Zhai, L. (2015). Influence of anxiety on English listening comprehension: An investigation based on the freshmen of English majors. Studies in Literature and Language, 11(6), 40– 47.