Exploring the Causes of Listening Comprehension Anxiety from EFL Saudi Learners’ Perspectives: A Pilot Study

Ibrahim Otair, Noor Hashima Abd Aziz


Anxiety is an important factor in foreign language learning. Very few studies have been done on English as a Foreign Language (EFL) Saudi students in listening classes. Therefore, this pilot study was aimed at exploring the causes of listening comprehension anxiety from EFL Saudi learners’ perspectives at Majmaah University, Saudi Arabia. The pilot study involved two students who were selected based on the following criteria: 1) Only Saudi male undergraduate students who enrolled in Preparatory Year Program (PYP) at Majmaah University would be involved in this study, 2) The students who had studied or lived in native English speaking countries would be excluded. The researcher used pseudonyms to refer to the participants as Mohammad and Ismail. This study employed a qualitative case study research design. The data were collected through Semi-structured interviews with the participants. The interview sessions were audiotaped and transcribed. The results show that the participants experienced a high level of anxiety when doing the listening comprehension tasks. Three main causes of listening comprehension anxiety emerged from this study: 1) the problematic nature of listening comprehension, 2) the classroom atmosphere, and 3) the low English proficiency of the students.


Semi-structured interviews, listening comprehension anxiety, pilot study, English as a foreign language (EFL), Saudi learners

Full Text:



Abdullah, K., & Rahman, N. (2010). A study on second language speaking anxiety among UTM students. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia Institutional Repository, 1-6. Retrieved from http://www.fp.utm.my/epusatsumber/pdffail/ptkghdfwp2/p_2009_8820.

Alrabai, F. (2014). A model of foreign language anxiety in the Saudi EFL context. English Language Teaching, 7(7),82. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/elt.v7n7p82.

Al-Shboul, M. M., Ahmad, I. S., Nordin, M. S., & Rahman, Z. A. (2013). Foreign language reading anxiety in a Jordanian EFL context: A qualitative study. English Language Teaching, 6(6), 38. DOI: 10.5539/elt.v6n6p38.

Arnold, J. (2000). Seeing through listening comprehension exam anxiety. TESOL Quarterly, 34(4), 777-786. doi: 10.2307/3587791.

Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 77-101. Retrieved from http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/11735.

Chang, A. C. S. (2008). Sources of listening anxiety in learning English as a foreign language. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 106(1), 21-34.

Cheng, Y. S. (2004). A measure of second language writing anxiety: Scale development and preliminary validation. Journal of Second Language Writing, 13(4), 313-335. DOI: 10.1016/j.jslw.2004.07.001.

Creswell, J. W. (2002). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (4th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education.

Dewaele, J. M., & Al-Saraj, T. M. (2013). Foreign Language Anxiety: Some conceptual and methodological issues. Journal of Psychology, 68 (3), 71-78. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/ 10.14746/ssllt.2015.5.2.2.

Dörnyei, Z. (2007). Research methods in applied linguistics: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methodologies. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Elkhafaifi, H. (2005). Listening comprehension and anxiety in the Arabic language classroom. The Modern Language Journal, 89(2), 206-220. DOI: 10.1111/j.1540-4781.2005.00275.x.

Gojian, B. (2014). Effect of Anxiety Awareness on Listening Comprehension. Journal of International Scientific Publications, 12, 1057-1064. Retrieved from http://www.ccseet.org/journal/index .php/ijel/article/ download/17093/12699.

Golchi, M. M. (2012). Listening anxiety and its relationship with listening strategy use and listening comprehension among Iranian IELTS learners. International Journal of English Linguistics, 2(4), 115.

Gonen, M. (2009, July). The relationship between FL listening anxiety and FL listening strategies: The case of Turkish EFL learners. In Proceedings of the 5th WSEAS/IASME International conference on educational technologies (pp. 44-49).

Javid, C. Z. (2014). Measuring language anxiety in an EFL context. Journal of Education and Practice, 5(25) ,180-193. Retrieved from http://www.iiste.org/Journals/index.php/RHSS/article/view/12477.

Joiner, E. (1986). Listening in the Foreign Language, in B. H. Wing( Ed.), Listening Reading, and Writing: Analysis and Application. Middlebury, VT: Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (pp.43-70).Vermont, US.

Kim, J. H. (2000). Foreign language listening anxiety: A study of Korean students learning English. English Teaching, 57(2), 3-34. Retrieved from http://journal.kate.or.kr/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/kate_57_2_1.pdf.

Kimura, H. (2008). Foreign language listening anxiety: Its dimensionality and group differences. JALT Journal, 30(2), 173-196. Retrieved from https://jalt- publications.org /files/pdf-article/art2_7.pdf.

Ko, Y. A. (2010). The effects of pedagogical agents on listening anxiety and listening comprehension in an English as a foreign language context (Doctoral dissertation, UtahState University, Utah, US. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.usu.edu/cgi.

Krashen, S. D. (1985). The Input Hypothesis: Issues and Implications. New York: Longman.

Lili, Z. (2016) Influence of anxiety on English listening comprehension: An investigation based on the freshman of English majors. Studies in Literature and Language, 11(6), 40-47. Retrieved from http://www.cscanada.net/index.php/sll/article/download/7952/8823.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1991). Methods and results in the study of anxiety and language learning: A review of the literature. Language learning, 41(1), 85-117.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Gardner, R. C. (1994). The subtle effects of language anxiety on cognitive processing in the second language. Language learning, 44(2), 283-305.

Moghadam, S. B., Ghanizadeh, A., & Akbari, O. (2015). The Effect of Bilingualism on the Listening Strategies and Listening Anxiety among Iranian Junior High School Students. Journal of Applied Linguistics and Language Research, 2(4), 236-248. Retrieved from http:// www.jallr.com/index.php/JALLR/article/ download/76/pdf.

Scarcella, R. C., & Oxford, R. L. (1992). The tapestry of language learning: The individual in the communicative classroom (p. 63). Boston: Heinle & Heinle.

Serraj, S. (2015). Listening Anxiety in Iranian EFL learners. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 5(6). Retrieved from http://www.ijsrp.org/research-paper-0615/ijsrp-p4285.pdf.

Spielberger, C. D. (1972). Conceptual and methodological issues in anxiety research. In C. D. Spielberger (Ed.), Anxiety: Current trends in theory and research (2nd ed., pp. 481-493). New York, US.

Vandergrift, L. (1997). The comprehension strategies of second language (French) listeners: A descriptive study. Foreign Language Annals, 30(3), 387-409. DOI: 10.1111/j.1944-9720.1997.tb02362.x.

Vogely, A. J. (1998). Listening comprehension anxiety: Students' reported sources and solutions. Foreign Language Annals, 31(1), 67-80.

Vogely, A. (1999). Addressing listening comprehension anxiety. In D. J. Young (Eds.), Affect in foreign language and second language learning. A practical guide to creating a low-anxiety atmosphere (pp. 106–123). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Wheeless, L. R. (1975). An investigation of receiver apprehension and social context dimensions of communication apprehension. Communication Education, 24(3), 261-268. Retrieved from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03634527509378169.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and Methods. SAGE publications. Thousand oaks.

Young, D. J. (1992). Language anxiety from the foreign language specialist's perspective: Interviews with Krashen, Omaggio Hadley, Terrell, and Rardin. Foreign Language Annals, 25(2), 157-172. Retrieved from www.ccsenet.org/journal/index.php/ijel/article/download/15522/11842.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7575/aiac.alls.v.8n.4p.79


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.