Proceedings of the 1st International Conference on Language, Literature, Culture & Education 2014
ISBN 978-967-13140-0-5

The Impact of Gender on Speaking Anxiety among Malaysian Tertiary ESL Learners

Siew Pei Hwa

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia


This research aims to determine the level of tertiary ESL (English as a second language) students’ anxiety in speaking in English in ESL classrooms. It also investigates the impact of gender on the speaking anxiety among these ESL learners. The speaking anxiety constructs include psychological anxiety, fear of negative evaluation, social-environmental factor, English classroom language anxiety, and perception factor. Responses from 237 undergraduate students at a Malaysian university were collected using a structured questionnaire that modified from the Horwitz, Horwitz and Cope’s (1986) FLCAS (Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale). The participants of this survey were asked to rate each of the statement in the 32-item questionnaire using a five-point Likert-type scale in which 1 refers to strongly disagree, 2 as disagree, 3 as neutral, 4 as agree, and 5 as strongly agree. Results from the research show that tertiary ESL students experienced moderate level of speaking anxiety. The research also examines the key influential factor on speaking anxiety among tertiary ESL (English as a Second Language) learners. The findings reveal that the three major contributory factors of the ESL speaking anxiety are perception factor, English classroom speaking anxiety, and psychological anxiety. This research has corroborated the hypothesis that female tertiary ESL students displayed a higher level of speaking anxiety than their male peers.


speaking anxiety, language anxiety, gender, ESL learners, FLCAS

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