ESL learners feel anxious when doing reading comprehension tests sample essay

This paper will explore in depth all the implications of the claim that ESL learners feel anxious when doing reading comprehension tests. First of all, the psychological and social causes of anxiety in ESL speakers during reading comprehension assignments will be explored and analyzed. Secondly, the level of anxiety will be assessed. Finally, the paper will suggest several ways to reduce negative feeling associated with performing reading comprehension tests by ESL speakers. Psychological causes of anxiety in ESL students partially mirror the experience of any other school related anxiety.

Students are unsure of their abilities under the conditions of internal (i. e. a desire for self-affirmation) and external (i. e. a desire to please parents) pressure. Presently, students feel an incredible pressure to achieve and be at the top of their class, since the realization that school grades determine their future comes very early. Therefore, the joy of learning is often transformed into a struggle to excel (DeNoon, 2007). High expectations and competitive environment contribute greatly to the experience of anxiety and even panic.

As concerns the severity of anxiety experienced by ESL speakers, it might range from slight psychological discomfort to serious physical symptoms. For example, short-term memory loss might be the result of extreme anxiety (the feeling of suddenly ‘remembering’ the correct answer immediately after turning in the test). Physical expressions of anxiety may include rapid pulse, a feeling of breathlessness, trembling, sweaty palms, dry mouth, chest pains, digestive problems such as nausea or diarrhea, loss of appetite, headache, sleeplessness, and stomach ache (BUPA’s Health Information Team, 2004).

Anxiety may also result in undesirable social consequences, such as loss of trust between parents and students, since the latter sometimes tend to conceal the difficulties they encounter, as well as test results. Such behavior eventually results in unfavorable family atmosphere. The practical values of this research lies in the field of practices and methods aimed at eliminating the causes of anxiety and helping students benefit fully from the learning process. Negative thoughts about possible failure discourage active learning and, taken to extreme, can produce a generally devastating effect on personality development.

Furthermore, anxiety during the testing process can distort result, since students who are able to control their emotions better will tend to get higher score, despite the fact that their knowledge might be less complete as compared to students who suffer from extreme anxiety. Together with exercises aimed at increasing students’ self-confidence, relaxation exercises might be very helpful for those who suffer from anxiety. It is also of paramount importance to teach students to plan their time for taking the test so that they would not feel lost and experience a state of panic.

The methods of research will be qualitative and will include questionnaires and interviews. At one hand, questionnaires will help to gather statistically significant data and understand the pervasiveness of the problem. From another perspective, interviews will help to research the problem in depth by analyzing students’ perceptions, emotions, and experiences. Therefore, the combination of these research methods will provide the most accurate picture of anxiety in ESL speakers during reading comprehension tests.