Foreign Language Anxiety

Horwitz and Young (1991) define foreign language anxiety in two different ways. First “as a manifestation or transfer of other types of anxiety … in the language learning context” (Horwitz, Tallon, and Luo, 2010, p. 95), and secondly as an anxiety that is specific to a situation. Unfortunately, there is a negative relationship between second language grade achievement and foreign language anxiety (Horwitz, 2001). Additionally, this type of anxiety can hinder communication while learning the new language which is essential in obtaining proficiency (Kleinmann, 1977; MacIntyre & Garndner, 1991a, 1991b; Macntyre & Charos, 1995). Many believe that the anxiety surrounding foreign language may be due to a fear of misportraying authenticity (Horwitz, 2000, 2009; Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope, 1986). In other words, a student may be afraid of “sounding weird” in their attempts to reproduce a foreign language.


Horwitz, E. K. (2000). It ain’t over til it’s over: On foreign language anxiety, first language deficits, and the confounding of variables. Modern Language Journal, 84, 256-259).

Horwitz, E. K. (2001). Language anxiety and achievement. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 112-126.