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Speaking Anxiety Among The Eleventh Grade Students



In this globalizing world, speaking English has become a priority for many people and receives more attention due to its importance in daily life. Speaking skill is not an easy task for the student, especially in university. Nunan (2000:39) states that speaking is one of the key aspects of learning a second or foreign language. Moreover, he further notes that the success of learning the language is measured in terms of the ability to carry out a conversation in the target language.

It can be said that being able to speak fluently is essential in students‟ language learning to communicate both inside or outside the classroom.

As there are few opportunities to practice English in realistic situations, Speaking is the most difficult skill to master [6], is more than simply knowing the grammatical and semantic rules of a language [15]. It is also about the control of a highly diverse set of activities, which involved many distinct mental and physical skills [9]. In addition to its complexity, it is not particularly supported with real situations in language learning contexts [11]; rather, it is taught within the confines of a school class, which serves as the only setting for learners to practice English [16, 17].

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This issue makes it difficult for language learners to gain proficiency [11, 17]. Furthermore, it is an anxiety-provoking skill, which hinders performance [18-20], as EFL learners become more concerned about their performance and believe they are not performing well enough [17].

Speaking has been generally recognized as the most anxiety-provoking skill associated with foreign language learning.

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For example, Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope (1986) identified communication apprehension to be conceptually relevant to foreign language anxiety. Among many other researchers, Palacios (1998) found that speaking caused the most anxiety among the learners. Price (1991) reported that the most anxiety-provoking thing in learning a foreign language, according to her students, was to speak the target language in front of their peers.

Horwitz and cope (1986) first identify foreign language anxiety and developed an instrument, the foreign language classroom anxiety scale (FLCAS) to measure it (Horwivtz, 2001). According to Horwitz (2001), foreign language anxiety is independent of other causes of anxiety, such as innate personality, test-taking, or public speaking. Finding using the FLCAS are consistent, showing a negative correlation between anxiety and achievement in foreign language skills.

Thornbury (2005: 28) states that lack of vocabularies, improper grammatical, fears of mistakes are some factors that can contribute to speaking failure and causing an acute sense of anxiety when it comes to speaking. Moreover, the problem of language anxiety not only happens to beginners but also the university students who usually deal with English. In addition, Cebreros (1998) added that they have to cope with the demands of being able to sustain communication by means of an instrument they are not completely familiar with.

“Anxiety can be described as the perceived notion of psychological distress which occurs due to expectation of disconcerting and potentially threatening event. Although extensive research has focused on the concept of anxiety, it cannot define by purely objective or concrete means “(Rachman, 2004 as cited in Larson,2007, p. 2) “.

“We define anxiety as an emotion characterized by feelings of anticipated danger, tension, and distress and by sympathetic nervous system arousal”. (Daviddoff.1981:365).

There were many causes of the student’s anxiety to speak English, it’s important for students to reduce their anxiety to speak English. Bailey cited by Zhang (2001:52) says: “ A contributing factor to learners’ success or failure to master second/ foreign language is the manner that learners for their worries, apprehension, and even dread when faced with a certain language”.

Young (1990) claimed, “Speaking in the foreign language is often cited by students as their most anxiety-producing experience” (p. 539), and speaking in a foreign language has been in general acknowledged as the most anxiety-provoking skill (Price, 1991; Palacios, 1998). Foreign language speaking anxiety experienced by foreign language learners may contribute to their failure to learn the target language. Anxious foreign language learners are likely to think about evaluations from others and this condition may be worse when they are not able to control their anxiety.

According to the learning theory of Thorndike as explained by Surya (1996:29) cited in Wahyu (2010:3), the learning theory of Thorndike represents the original S-R framework of behavioral psychology: Learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and responses. Such associations or “habits “ become strengthened or weakened by the nature and frequency of the S-R pairing. The paradigm for S-R theory was trial and error learning in which certain responses come to dominate others due to rewards. The hallmark of connectionism (like all behavioral theory) was that learning could be adequately explained without referring to any unobservable internal states. Thorntdike’s theory consists of three primary laws : (1) law of effect responses to a situation which are followed by a rewarding state of affairs will be strengthened and become habitual responses to that situation, (2) law of readiness- a series of responses can be chained together to satisfy some goal which will result in annyanceif blocked, and (3) law of exercise- connections become strengthened with practice and weakened when the practice is discontinued. A corollary of the law of effect was that responses that reduce the likelihood of achieving a rewarding state ( i.e. Punishments, failures) will decrease in strength.

Anxiety is called a nightmare. It means anxiety is a dangerous factor that lived in speaking a foreign language. As students we always have experiences speaking anxiety, focus on speaker anxiety such as sweaty palms, dry mouth, shortage of breath, anxiety, and fair. These signs began before our presentation, hours or day before it. It’s totally happened when were talking in another language and it can be practiced to be successful in pronunciation and vocabulary, especially to improve their speaking ability. So anxiety to speak in either language especially for speaking English is very important to be solved. The success of speaking English is speaking without anxious feeling. Based on the informal interview with students of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang, it was found that some of them did not motivate to study English.q

Regarding the problems above, studies have been undertaken to investigate The anxiety factors of English language learning. Zhiping & Paramasivam (2012) found that the lecturer’s strategies and students‘ reactions to their strategies are not related to cultural background but to affective filters and learning skills common to all human beings. Luoq (2012) indicated that gender had a significant effect on Speaking Anxiety, but proficiency level and the elective-required status did not. The findings from the previous studies take an important role in designing this research.

Based on the explanation above the writer intends to find out the problem, through her paper entitled: “ Speaking anxiety among the Eleventh Grade Students: A case study of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang “

Research Problem

Based on the background, the research problems are formulated in the following questions:

  1. What are the factors that influence anxiety in speaking of students of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang in learning English?
  2. Which type of anxiety factor is the most frequently demotivate students of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang in learning English?

Research Objectives

In accordance with the problems above, the objectives of this study are:

  1. To find out the factors that influence anxiety in speaking of students of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang in learning English?
  2. To find out the most frequently demotivate students of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang in learning English?

The Significance of the Study

Hopefully, the result of the study is useful to the writer, students, and teachers. The writer will be able to improve her knowledge in writing a good paper and to improve her knowledge in students‘ anxiety to speak English and for the teacher to share about student’s anxiety in speaking English, and to increase the teacher in teaching speaking. And then for the students, it will be useful for them to know about anxiety that happens in their speaking class. And the last it becomes one of the references to other researchers when they do the research.

Literature Review


Speaking is one of the four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking). It is the means through which learners can communicate with others to achieve certain goals or to express their opinions, intentions, hopes, and viewpoints. In addition, people who know a language are referred to as ‘speakers’ of that language. Furthermore, in almost any setting, speaking is the most 14 frequently used language skill. As Rivers (1981) argues, speaking is used twice as much as reading and writing in our communication.

Speaking has usually been compared to writing, both being considered ‘productive skills’, as opposed to the ‘receptive skills’ of reading and listening. Speaking also is closely related to listening aks two interrelated ways of accomplishing communication. Every speaker is simultaneously a listener and every listener is at least potentially a speaker (Oprandy, 199dh4: 153 & EL Menoufy, 1997: 9). Speaking has been classified as monologue and dialogue. The former focuses on giving an interrupted oral presentation and the latter on interacting with other speakers (Nunan.1989: 27). Speaking can also serve one of two main functions: transactional (transfer of information) and interactional (maintenance of social relationships) (Brown and Yule, 1983: 3).f

Furthermore, Speaking is one of the skills needed in learning a language. Speaking is defined as “An interactive process of constructing meaning that involves producing and receiving and processing information “ (Brown,1994as cited in law 2012). In other words, Speaking skill is the ability to make use of words or language to express oneself in an ordinary voice. Also, Speaking skills are the ability to perform linguistic knowledge in actual communication. The ability functions to be expressing one idea, feeling, thoughts, and needs orally (Ali,2013).

And the last, Speaking is a means to communicate the ideas that are arranged and developed with the listeners’ need. Speaking is an instrument that tells to the listener directly, does the listener or speaker understands or not. In conclusion, speaking is the communication way that produces a group of words or utterances and the listener only hears sounds or word pronunciations in the communications process. Its purpose is to tell information about something. So, speaking ability has a relation with listening ability. Both of them are filling each other.

The Purpose of Speaking

It was argued that the purpose of speaking can be either transactional or interactional. Apparently, there are some differences between the spoken language used in both transactional and interactional discourse.

In tractional discourse, language is used primarily for communicating information. Language serving this purpose is ‘ message-oriented rather than ‘listener’ oriented ( Nuna, 1989:27). Clearly, in this type of interaction, accurate and coherent communication of the message is important. As well as confirmation that the message has been understood. Examples of language being used primarily for transactional purposes are news broadcasts, descriptions, narrations, and instructions (Richards,1990. 54-55). Speaking turns serving this purpose tend to be long and involve some prior organization of content and use of linguistic devices to signal either the organization or type of information that will be given (Bastukmen, 2002:26).

On the other hand, some conversations are interactional with the purpose of establishing or maintaining a relationship. This latter kind is sometimes called the interpersonal use of language. It plays an important social role in oiling the wheels of social intercourse (Yule, 1989:169). Examples of interactional uses of language are greetings, small talks, and compliments. Apparently, the language used in the interactional mode is listener-oriented. Spekers’talk in this type tends to be limited to quite short turns (Dornyei & Thurell, 1994:43 and Richards, 1990: 54-55).

However, between the two types, in most circumstances, interactional language is combined with transactional language. This helps to ease the transactional task to be done by keeping good social relations with others. In, other words, we can say that speakers do one thing by doing another (Brazil, 1995:29). So both purposes can be viewed as two dimensions of spoken interaction.

Analyzing speaking purpose more precisely, kingen (2000:218) combines both the transactional and interpersonal purpose of speaking into an extensive list of twelve categories as follow:

  1. Personal – expressing personal feelings, opinions, beliefs, and ideas.
  2. Descriptive – describing someone or something, real or imagined.
  3. Narrative – creating and telling stories or chronologically sequenced events.
  4. Instructive – giving instructions or proving directions designed to produce an outcome.
  5. Questioning – asking questions to obtain information.
  6. Comparative – comparing two or more objects, people, ideas, or opinions to make judgments about them.
  7. Imaginative – expressing the mental images of people, places, events, and objects.
  8.  Predictive- predicting possible future events.
  9. Interpretative – exploring meanings, creating hypothetical deductions, and considering inferences.
  10. Persuasive – changing others’ opinions, attitudes, or points of view, or influencing the behavior of others in some way.
  11. Explanatory – explaining, clarifying, and supporting ideas and opinions.
  12. Informative – sharing information with others.

This list corresponds closely to the language functions explained by Halliday (1975).


The term anxiety refers to the complex set of negative emotions. Which include fear, apprehension, and worry. Horwitz et al. (1986) stated that anxiety the subject is “the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of the autonomic nervous system” (p.125). According to Spielberger and Rickman (1990).” Anxiety is an unpleasant emotional apprehension “ ( as cited in Cheng 2009). According to Eysenck (1979, as cited in Cheng 2009), trait anxiety is generally nervous in people in many different situations; they lack emotional stability (Goldberg,1993 as cited in Cheng 2009). According to Eysenck (1979, as cited in Cheng 2009), trait anxiety impairs the cognitive function of memory and learning, leads to avoidance behavior, and has some other negative effects. According to Maclntyre and Gardner (1991b, p.88) “within a large group of people, the situation provoking anxiety will differ, even among individuals showing similar trait anxiety scores” (as cited in Cheng 2009). It could be concluded that anxiety is a term referring to a collection of negative feelings such as fear, apprehension, and worry which could lead people to be unstable.

Categories of Anxiety

Broadly speaking, anxiety can be divided into three types, Elis (1994: 479-480) namely: trait anxiety, state anxiety, and situation-specific anxiety. Drawing on work in general psychology defines;

  • Trait anxiety is ‘a more permanent predisposition to be anxious. It is best viewed as an aspect of personality. In addition, Pappamihiel (2002, cited in Riasati, 2011:908) states that trait anxiety is the tendency of a person to be nervous or feel anxious irrespective of the situation she is exposed to. Indeed, such anxiety is a part of a person’s character and hence is permanent and difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of. A person who is trait anxious is likely to feel anxious in a variety of situations. Once anxiety becomes a trait, it will hinder language learning. Furthermore, This idea s likely to be relevant with what (Spielberger, 1983 cited in Kondo, 2009: 130) states that trait anxiety is defined as an individual tendency to be anxious in any situation.
  •  State anxiety is apprehension that is experienced at a particular moment in time as a response to a definite situation (Spielberger, 1983). It is a combination of trait and situation-specific anxiety. To follow Horwitz’s (1986) state anxiety is referred to situational anxiety. As the name implies, this type of anxiety arises in a particular situation and hence is not permanent. It is nervousness or tension at a particular moment in responses to some outside stimulus. It occurs because learners are exposed to a particular situation or event that is stressful to them.
  •  Specific- situation anxiety, refers to the persistent and multi-faceted nature of some anxieties (Maclntyre & Gardner, 1991a: cited in 2001: 113). It is aroused by a specific type of situation or event such a pubic speaking, examination, or class participation (Ellis, 1994: 480). On the other hand, (Spielberger, 1983) says that situation-specific anxiety is defined as an individual tendency to be anxious in a particular time and situation. Situation-specific anxiety can be seen as a subcategory of trait anxiety experienced at a given context. Thus, language anxiety can be included in situation-specific anxiety.

Factors of Anxiety

Learning anxiety can be attributed to several factors. (Horwitz, 1986) argue that in the context of foreign learning, learners may feel anxious due to problems related to the three dimensions of anxiety. Firstly, communication apprehension Secondly, fear of negative evaluation Thirdly, a general feeling of anxiety the description of these components will lay the foundation for the concept of foreign language anxiety, providing an insight to comprehend the source of anxiety. As the focus is this study is on speaking skill, those components will be explained below:

Communication Apprehension

Communication apprehension is a fear or anxiety about actual or anticipated communication with other individuals and is a behavioral trait related to the psychological constructs of shyness and reticence (McCroskey,1984). On the other hand, Horwitz et al (1986:128, cited in Denver, 2007:11) define communication apprehension as “ a type of shyness characterized by fear or anxiety about communication with other people”. Relevant to the statement mention above, Tanver (2007:2013) argues that communication apprehension may exist in most everyday communication situations, or may even be part of a general anxiety trait that arises in many facets of an individual’s life and learners’ personality traits such as shyness, quietness, and reticence are considered to frequently precipitate communication apprehension.

Fear of Negative Evaluation

Fear of negative evaluation is an extension of the second component of foreign language anxiety because it is not limited to test-taking situations; rather, it may occur in any social, evaluative situation, such as interviewing for a job or speaking in a foreign language class (Horwitz et al., 1986:127). It is also boarder in the sense that it pertains not only to the teachers’ evaluation of the students but also to the perceived reaction of other students as well (Tanveer, 2007:14).

Test Anxiety

An understanding of test anxiety is also related to the discussion of foreign language anxiety. Test anxiety, as explain by Horwitz et al. (cited in Tanveer,2007:12) refers to a type of performance anxiety stemming from a fear of failure. Test anxiety is quite pervasive in language classrooms because of its continuous performance evaluation nature. As test anxiety is treated differently when dealing with oral communication classroom.

Previous Related Study

In this study, there are two related studies. First, Ozturk (2014) conducted a study entitled “ Speaking anxiety among Turkish EFL learners: The case at a state university. This study investigated the level, major causes, determining the factors of foreign language speaking anxiety and students’ perceptions of it in a Turkish EFL context. Pre-intermediate students (N=383) of an English preparatory program at a state university participated in the study. The data regarding the level of EFL speaking anxiety were collected through a questioner, and then, randomly selected participants (N=19) were interviewed to get in-depth data on speaking anxiety.

The second study was conducted by Indrianty Septy (2016). This thesis entitles “Students’ anxiety in speaking English (a case study in one hotel and tourism college in Bandung)”. The study revealed two findings related to research questions. First, two types of anxiety were evidenced, i.e. trait anxiety and state/situational anxiety. Second, the students’ anxiety in English speaking class was derived from three main sources of anxiety, i.e. communication apprehension, test anxiety, and fear of negative evaluation.


Methods of the Study

In this study, the researcher will use mixed-method research because it deals with the phenomenon of this study speaking anxiety among students. It uses to find out the factors. Creswell (2006) states that mixed methods research provides more comprehensive evidence for studying a research problem than either quantitative or qualitative research alone.

Operational Definational

The name of this title is “Speaking anxiety among the Eleventh Grade Students: A case study of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang”. To solved misunderstandings, In order to avoid misunderstanding, there are some keywords that really necessary to explain. They are :


Speaking is one of the language skills


In this situation when the students feel worried and fear to talk about something in front of the class or talking with many people because speaking is the skill that can make the anxious level from student to learning English.

Speaking Anxiety

Firstly, communication apprehension Secondly, fear of negative evaluation Thirdly, a general feeling of anxiety the description of these components will lay the foundation for the concept of foreign language anxiety, providing an insight to comprehend the source of anxiety.

Participants of the Study

The students of Madrasah Aliyah Palembang will be the Participants of this research. According to Creswell (2012). “participants can be defined in a group of individuals who have the same character if someone wants to investigate all of the elements in a research area, his research is participants research” (p. 142). In addition, Fraenkel and Wallen (as cited in Holandyah and Lestari, 2017) state “the population is the group of interest to the researcher to whom the researcher generalizes the research of the study” (p. 49). This Research will conduct in Madrasah Aliyah Negeri 1 Palembang. This study will use convenience sampling. According to Cohen et, al (2007), convenience sampling is sometimes called accidental or opportunity sampling involves choosing the nearest individuals to serve as respondents and continuing that process until the required sample size has been obtained or those who happen to be available and accessible at the time” (p. 113-114) besides that the researcher in choosing which sample is accessible to take a data collection process.

The Technique for Collecting Data


Speaking anxiety questionnaire was adopted from 33 items by Horwitz (1986). This questionnaire selected 12 items selected because directly related to speaking anxiety. This is consists of 5 points Likert scale answer from “ Strongly Agree to Strongly Disagree”. the students required to choose one answer for each item. A higher score means a high level of anxiety, on the contrary, the lower score means a lower level of anxiety. Each answer on the Likert scale has positive gradation until negative gradation, this scale represented by the score 5 until 1. In another word, 5 means Strongly Agree, 4means Agree, 3 means Neither Agree Nor Disagree, 2 means Disagree, and I means Strongly Disagree. This questionnaire aims to find out the level of speaking anxiety from students.


  1. Cook, Guy. 2003. Applied linguistics Oxford University press: new york.
  2. Horwitz, E. K. 2001.Language, anxiety and achievement. Annual review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 112-126.
  3. Horwitz, E. K., Horwitz, M. B., & Cope, J. 1986.foreign language classroom anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 70 (ii). 125-132.
  4. Nunan, D. (1989). Designing Tasks for the Communicative Classroom. New York: Cambridge University Press.
  5. Oprandy, R. (1994). ‘Listening/ Speaking in Second and Foreign Language Teaching’. System: V. 22, n. 2, 153-175.
  6. Arango, P. H. (2015). students’ self-confidence as a way to improve oral production in the tenth grade student at ricaurate school. (Master’s Thesis). Libre University, Bogota, Columbia.
  7. Muamaroh. (2003). Improving Indonesia University Students’ Spoken English Using Group Work and Cooperative Learning (Doctoral dissertation). Charles Darwin University, Darwin, Australia.
  8. Sara, B. (2015). Investigating the effect of elf students’ self-confidence on their oral performance. (Master’s Thesis). Biskara University, Republic of Algeria.
  9. Richards, J.C. (2008). Teaching Listening and Speaking: From theory to practice. Cambridge, England: Cambridge Press University

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Speaking Anxiety Among The Eleventh Grade Students. (2021, Jun 02). Retrieved from

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