Anxiety, Motivation and Autonomy in Iranian High School Students: A Quantitative Study

Fatemeh Sanadgol, Seyed Jalal Abdolmanafi-Rokni


Research in the series of second language learning certify that both cognitive and affective factors within a language learner affect the level of success that will be achieved in learning a second language. This study was an attempt to investigate the relationship among three factors of anxiety, motivation, and autonomy. To this purpose, 207 students were invited from Golestan high school in Ramian, in the north of Iran. Their age ranged from 18 to 22 years. In one session they filled out the anxiety questionnaire, in the next session they completed the motivation questionnaire, and in the third session they answered the items in the autonomy questionnaire. At the end of the term their final scores were recorded.  Analysis of the results showed that there was a meaningful relationship between anxiety and motivation, but there was no relationship between anxiety and autonomy, and no relationship autonomy and motivation. Both high-stakeholders and low-stakeholder may benefit from the findings of this study.

Keywords: motivation; anxiety; autonomy; EFL learners

Full Text:



Aida, Y. (1994). Examination of Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope's construct of foreign language anxiety: The case of students of Japanese. Modern Language Journal, 78(2), 155-168.

Barfield, A., Ashwell, T., Carroll, M., Collins, K., Cowie, N., Critchley, M., Head, E., Nix, M., Obermeier, A. & Robertson, M.C. (2001). Exploring and defining teacher autonomy: A collaborative discussion. In A. S. Mackenzie & E. McCafferty (Eds.), Developing Autonomy, Proceedings of the College and University Educators’ 2001 Conference, Shizuoka, Japan (pp. 217-22). Tokyo: The Japan Association for Language Teaching.

Benson, P. (2001). Teaching and researching autonomy in language learning. Harlow: Longman.

Brown, J., Robson, G., & Rosenkjar, P.R. (2001). Personality, motivation, anxiety, strategies, and language proficiency of Japanese students. In Z. Dornyei & R. Schmidt (Eds.), Motivation and second language acquisition (pp. 361-398). Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai’i Press.

Burkert, A. & Schwienhorst, K. (2008). Focus on the Student Teacher: The European Portfolio for Student Teachers of Languages (EPOSTL) as a Tool to Develop Teacher Autonomy. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching, 2(3), 238- 252.

Castle, K. (2006). Autonomy through Pedagogical Research. Teaching and Teacher Education, 22(8), 1094-1103.

Chan, V. (2001). Readiness for learner autonomy: What do our learners tell us? Teaching in Higher Education, 6(4), 505-519.

Chan, V. (2003). Autonomous Language Learning: the teachers’ perspectives. Teaching In Higher Education, 8(1), 33-54.

Clement, R., Dornyei, Z., & Noels, K.A. (1994). Motivation, self-confidence, and group cohesion in the foreign language classroom. Language Learning, 44(3), 417-448.

Dam, L. (1995). Learner Autonomy 3: from theory to classroom practice. Dublin: Authentik.

De Vries, R. & Kohlberg, L. (1987). Programs of early education. New York: Longman.

Dickinson, L. (1987). Self-instruction in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Dickinson, L. (1992). Learning Autonomy 2: learner training for language learning. Dublin: Authentik.

Dornyei, Z. (1994). Motivation and motivating in the foreign language classroom. Modern Language Journal, 78(3), 273-284.

Dornyei, Z. (1998). Motivation in second and foreign language learning. Language Teaching, 31, 117-135.

Dornyei, Z. (2001). New themes and approaches in second language motivation research. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 21, 43-59.

Gardner, R.C. (1985). Social psychology and second-language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London, England: Edward Arnold.

Gardner, R.C., Day, J.B., & MacIntyre, P.D. (1992). Integrative motivation, induced anxiety, and language learning in a controlled environment. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 14, 197-214.

Gardner, R.C., Masgoret, A.M., Tennant, J., & Mihic, L, (2004). Integrative motivation: Changes during a year-long intermediate-level language course. Language Learning, 54, 1-34.

Gardner, R.C., Tremblay, P.F., & Masgoret, A.M. (1997). Towards a full model of second language learning: An empirical investigation. The Modern Language Journal, 81(iii), 344-362.

Hao, M., Liu, M., & Hao, R. P. (2004). An empirical study on anxiety and motivation in English as a foreign language. Asian Journal of English Language Teaching, 14, 89-104.

Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy in foreign language learning. Oxford: Pergamon.

Horwitz, E.K., Horwitz, M.B., & Cope, J. (1986). Foreign language classroom anxiety. Modern Language Journal, 70, 125-132.

Huang, H. (2005). Current teaching approaches in Taiwanese English classrooms and recommendations for the future. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA.

Little, D. (1991). Learner autonomy 1: Definitions, issues and problems. Dublin: Authentik.

Little, D. (1994). Learner autonomy: A theoretical construct and its practical application. Die Neuere Sprache, 93(5), 430-442.

Little, D. (1995). Learning as dialogue: The dependence of learner autonomy on teacher autonomy. System, 23(2), 175-182.

Little, D. (2009). Language learner autonomy and the European Language Portfolio: Two L2 English examples. Language Teaching, 42, 222-233.

Littlejohn, A. (1985). Learner choice in language study. ELT Journal, 39(4), 253-261.

Liu, M. & Huang, W. (2011). An exploration of foreign language anxiety and English learning motivation, Educational Research International, 1-8, doi:10.1155/2011/493167.

Liu, M. & Jackson, J. (2008). An exploration of Chinese EFL learners' unwillingness to communicate and foreign language anxiety. The Modern Language Journal, 92(1), 71-86.

MacIntyre, P.D. (1995). How does anxiety affect second language learning? A reply to Sparks and Ganschow. Modern Language Journal, 79(1), 90-99.

MacIntyre, P.D., & Gardner, R.C. (1989). Anxiety and second-language learning: Toward a theoretical clarification. Language Learning, 39(2), 251-275.

McGrath, I. (2000). Teacher autonomy. In B. Sinclair, et al. (Eds.), Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: Future directions (pp. 100-110). London: Longman.

Mehrpour, S. & Vojdani, M. (2012). Globalization and EFL learning motivation: A new perspective on integrative vs. instrumental motivation among Iranian learners of English. Open Journal of Modern Linguistics, 2, 43-50, doi: 10.4236/ojml.2012.22006.

Nunan, D. (1997). Designing and adapting materials to encourage learner autonomy. In P. Benson & P. Voller (Eds.), Autonomy and independence in language learning (pp. 192-203). London: Longman.

Pintrich, P.R. & Schunk, D.H. (2002). Motivation in education: Theory, research, and application (2nd ed.). New Jersey: Merrill Prentice Hall.

Roccas, S. & Brewer, M. (2002). Social identity complexity. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 6, 88-106.

Scovel, T. (1978). The effect of affect on foreign language learning: A review of the anxiety research. Language Learning, 28(1), 129-142.

Sert, N. (2006). EFL Student Teachers' Learning Autonomy. The Asian EFL Journal, 8(2), 180-201.

Shinge, M. (2005). Interplay among anxiety, motivation, and autonomy in second language learners of French: a quantitative and qualitative study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Florida.

Smith, R.C. (2000). Starting with ourselves: Teacher-learner autonomy in language learning. In B. Sinclair, et al. (Eds.), Learner autonomy, teacher autonomy: Future directions (pp. 89-99). London: Longman.

Smith, R.C. (2008). Learner autonomy (Key concepts in ELT). ELT Journal, 62(4), 395-397.

Smith, R.C. & Erdogan, S. (2007). Teacher-learner autonomy: Programme goals and student teacher constructs. In T. Lamb & H. Reinders, (Eds). Learner and Teacher Autonomy: Concepts, Realities and Responses (pp. 83-103). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Spielberger, C.D. (1972). Anxiety: Current trends in theory and research: I. New York, N.Y.: Academic Press.

Spratt, M., Humphreys, G., & Chan, V. (2002). Autonomy and motivation: Which comes first? Language Teaching Research, 6(3), 245-266.

Viera, F. (2007). Teacher Autonomy: Why should we care? Independence 40 (IATEFL Learner Autonomy SIG).


  • 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 '' 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.