Jessie Choi

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The study aims to investigate the perceptions of university learners on English speaking apprehension in a Hong Kong classroom. In Hong Kong, students usually express strong desires for improving their English speaking skills as they realize the importance of the skills for their studies and careers; however, in most of the Hong Kong English classrooms, students tend to take a rather passive role in class and have very limited practice of speaking both inside and outside the classrooms. The lack of exposures and needs in using spoken English often leads to very low confidence or a high level of apprehension on their own. The relationship between feelings of apprehension and the learning of English speaking skills has been under-researched in Hong Kong. The present study is an attempt to fill this gap by investigating the link between feelings of apprehensions and the learning of English speaking skills in a language course of a tertiary institute in Hong Kong. The data for the study were derived from a questionnaire survey of 80 first-year undergraduates from a teacher education institute after the completion of an English speaking course. The quantitative findings indicate that impromptu speaking activities appeared to be more anxiety provoking and having more practices and preparation could help to reduce respondents’ negative feeling towards the speaking course. Moreover, pedagogical and individual factors accounted mainly for both positive and negative feelings respondents had. The results of the study also reveal that the behaviour and attitudes of the teacher were important aspects that could help to reduce feelings of apprehension. The article concludes by discussing the implications of the findings for ESL speaking courses for tertiary level learners in Hong Kong.

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