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Psychological and sociodemographic correlates of communicative anxiety in L2 and L3 production

Abstract

This paper analyses foreign language anxiety in the French L2 and English L3 speech production of 100 Flemish students. The findings suggest that foreign language anxiety is not a stable personality trait among experienced language learners. The societal as well as the individual contexts were found to determine levels of communicative anxiety. The perception of French as the former prestige language in Flanders and its function as a social marker was found to be linked to the participants' social class, which was, in turn, linked to levels of anxiety in French - but not in English. This social effect appeared to be a stronger predictor of communicative anxiety in French than three personality variables (extraversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism). Psychoticism, extraversion, and, to a lesser extent, neuroticism did however significantly predict levels of communicative anxiety in English L3 production. Students who scored high on the extraversion and psychoticism scales reported significant lower levels of communicative anxiety in English. Those who scored low on the neuroticism scale also tended to report lower levels of communicative anxiety in English. The same pattern emerged for communicative anxiety in French without reaching statistical significance

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