L2 Pronunciation Anxiety under Peer and Societal Pressure: Social Processes in Contexts

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Submission Summary

This study seeks to examine L2 pronunciation anxiety as a social process and promote a focus on individual learners situated in co-existing, layered social contexts. Both interpersonal and societal settings impose constraints on speakers’ self-presentational concerns since accent serves as a way of establishing, demonstrating, and judging their social identities.

Submission ID :
AILA1724
Submission Type
Abstract :

Studies on learner affect have centered around examining sources and outcomes of affective variables and fallen short of investigating how learners interpret their affective experiences and how they position themselves in relation to their experiences. These studies failed to explore the ebbs and flows of the emotive reactions of real people, which could be largely influenced by interpersonal and societal factors in the immediate and global contexts. This observation is particularly important in investigating L2 pronunciation anxiety because speech serves as a way of establishing, demonstrating, and judging speakers' social identities. This study seeks to examine L2 pronunciation anxiety as a social process and promote a focus on individual learners situated in co-existing, layered social contexts. Eight-three Japanese university students majoring in English contributed essays on L2 pronunciation anxiety. Their focused essays revealed they were under a variety of different kinds of social pressure when experiencing anxiety. At the most immediate level, learners sometimes played down their English pronunciation under peer pressure. They deliberately used heavily accented language to conform to the norm. Their need to belong to the classroom community sharing the same kind of marked accent took priority and they suffered negative psychological reactions including anxiety and frustration when failing to exert agency as better L2 speakers. At a societal level, some learners became reluctant to speak English in front of significant others including their teachers. They felt pressured because they, English majors, should speak good English. In both cases, anxious learners are plagued by their self-presentational concerns. They keep an eye on how others regard them, as peers in the former case and as good speakers in the latter case. Language is a site of social identity construction and L2 learner affect, including L2 pronunciation anxiety, is likely shaped and driven in social contexts.

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Miyagi Gakuin Women's University
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