Reducing Second Language Writing Anxiety: Creating a Novel Process-and-Collaboration-Centered Pedagogy

Reducing Second Language Writing Anxiety: Creating a Novel Process-and-Collaboration-Centered Pedagogy

Bashak Tarkan-Blanco
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6508-7.ch003
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Academic writing is a difficult task for many post-secondary students in the U.S. However, it is particularly challenging for ESL students due to linguistic and cognitive factors. This challenge may lead to second language writing anxiety (SLWA), as a result of which some students may perform poorly on writing assignments and eventually fail the course. Although previous research studies offer instructional strategies to address SLWA, they are insufficient in their theoretical basis and practical application. Thus, this paper fills that gap by situating those pedagogical recommendations within their theoretical foundations and includes a sample writing assignment with a student self-regulation checklist.
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When I have to write an essay in English during class, it is the most difficult time for me. I feel that my mind is totally blank, and my fingers tremble when I write each word. For me to write English is like to force a fish to walk on the sand. -ESL student

I can't explain myself clearly. I have more weaknesses than strengths. I get frustrated when I know what I want to say, but the reader doesn't understand me. -ESL student (as cited in Kasper and Petrello, 1998, p. 178)



Admittedly, many post-secondary students in the U.S. struggle with writing (Bettinger & Long, 2009; Gruenbaum, 2012; Javadi-Safa, 2018) due to a variety of reasons, such as a lack of understanding of the assignment, difficulty in getting started, and struggling to organize and develop ideas (Richards, 2020). However, the ability to articulate ideas clearly and effectively in written forms at the tertiary level is especially problematic and daunting for English as a Second Language (here onwards, ESL) students (Al Fadda, 2012), as they need to attain “a confident level of writing conventions, linguistic knowledge, grammar, vocabulary, and thinking strategies” (Javadi-Safa, 2018, p. 15) in a foreign language to be able to communicate ideas competently. Indeed, “not only must . . . ESL students gain proficiency in grammar, mechanics, vocabulary, and other surface-level aspects of . . . [academic writing], they must master American . . . rhetorical styles and writing genres” (Al Fadda, 2012, p. 123).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Writing as Process: Writing that involves various stages consisting of a sequence of activities such as generating ideas, drafting, revising, and editing.

Self-Regulated Learning: The process of understanding and assessment of one’s learning strengths and preferences.

Academic Writing: The type of writing that meets the requirements of a college or university, which is thesis-driven, well-supported with evidence, organized, clear, and edited.

Metacognition: The act of thinking about and reflecting on one’s own cognitive and learning processes.

ESL Writing Apprehension: Anxiety or fear of writing caused by writing in English as a second language.

Writing as Collaboration: Writing that involves group work and which fosters active learning.

Second Language Writing Performance: The act of producing writing in a language different from one’s native tongue.

Non-Judgmental Teacher Feedback: Teacher response that focuses less on error correction and form and more on fluency and expression of ideas.

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