A Mixed-Methods Study of EFL Teachers’ Apprehension, Antecedents and Ramifications

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A Mixed-Methods Study of EFL Teachers’ Apprehension, Its Antecedents and Ramifications

  • Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1. Statement of the Problem

1.2. Significance of the Study

1.3. Purpose of the Study

1.4. Research Question

1.5. Research Null Hypothesis

1.6. Limitation of the Study

1.7. Definition of the Key Terms

  • Chapter 2: Review of Literature

2.1. Relevant Concepts

2.2. Sources of teachers’ apprehension and anxiety

2.3. Consequences of teachers’ apprehension and anxiety

2.4. Solutions for teachers’ apprehension and anxiety

  • Chapter 3: Methodology

3.1. Participants

3.1.1. Participants of the qualitative phase Participants of the interview Participants of the open-ended questions Participants of the diary

3.1.2. Participants of the quantitative phase

3.2. Instruments

3.3. Data Analysis

  1. Introduction

Discovering the sources of teachers’ apprehension and anxieties in a language learning class has been a matter of high importance to language educators (e.g., Thompson, 1963; Erickson, & Rudd, 1967; Kyriacou, & Sutcliffe, 1978; Merç, Tomohisa, & Paker, 2011).

Since anxiety can have profound impacts on many aspects of teachers’ performance learning, it is important to identify those stressors which particularly provoke anxiety in teaching a foreign language.

  1.  Statement of the problem

Selye (1976) mentioned life without stress is neither plausible nor desirable. She also claimed that in reasonable doses, stress is a motivator and may enhance work performance. However, in unreasonable amounts, stress can become distress (Cedoline, 1982).

Anxiety has been regarded as an important affective variable in language classrooms. SpielBerger (1983; as cited in Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986) defines it as an unpleasant condition characterized by subjective feelings of tension, apprehension, worry, and activation or arousal of the nervous system. Owing to its psychological nature and negative meanings, anxiety in language classrooms has been widely investigated by numerous research studies, but probably the most influential one was done by Horwitz et. al. (1986).

Williams (1991; as cited in Öztürk2016) conducted an experimental study in a teacher training program with twenty seven novice English teachers at a university context. The results of the study confirmed that there is a negative correlation between the level of teaching anxiety and effectiveness in English language teaching, and anxious teachers were found to be less effective in their classroom teaching.

In a thesis study, Canessa (2004; as cited in Öztürk2016) investigated the relationship between foreign language teaching anxiety and several demographic variables among non-native foreign language teachers. It was found that there is a negative correlation between teaching experience and the level of anxiety. Moreover, cultural background of the teachers was found to be a radical factor on the level of teaching anxiety they had. Finally, no significant relationship was found between the level of anxiety and educational background or spending time in the target language speaking countries.

In Turkish context, İpek (2006; as cited in Öztürk2016) carried out her PhD study to develop an instrument to measure foreign language teaching anxiety. Diaries and semi-structured interviews were conducted with 32 Turkish EFL teachers. The results of the study put forward six categories as the main sources of foreign language teaching anxiety; using the native language, being compared to fellow teachers, teaching students at particular language levels, fear of failure, making mistakes and teaching a particular language area. Based on these findings, İpek (2006) proposed a valid and reliable scale to be used in measuring the foreign language teaching anxiety level of nonnative teachers.

Despite all the great studies done in this field of study, very few studies in the literature have focused on foreign language teaching apprehension experienced by EFL teachers.

Therefore, the purpose of this research is to conduct a study with regard to the variables mentioned earlier.

  1.  Significance of the study

The study of EFL teachers’ apprehension and anxiety is significant in several respects:

  1. English teachers have an opportunity to observe their feelings and their English language teaching, as it has been also suggested in reflective teaching.
  2. Because anxiety and apprehension are the threats to teachers’ well-being, they can identify what makes them stressed and anxious, then try to overcome their stress.
  3. Since the drop-out rate for the novice teachers within the first-year is on the rise, it can provide researchers, cooperating teachers, mentors, as well as TTC instructors with good enough information to make those teachers aware of the stressors and their consequences before they commence teaching.
  4. Considering the above point, the teachers can buy time and enjoy their teaching.
  5. Not only teachers who teach in the Language Institutions, but also teachers teaching at schools can use this research to weather the welter in their job.
  6. It gives EFL students an insight to have a better picture of themselves in mind so as to boost their self-esteem.
  7. It ensures that the teachers can have more effective teaching by overcoming their apprehension and anxieties.
  8. The teachers can find solace in knowing such information so as to appease their anger that might result from anxiety whenever they feel so.
  9. Having experienced apprehension, stress, and anxiety, some teachers become increasingly withdrawn. Consequently, they are susceptible to feeling depressed and devastated. They are also in danger of abandoning their job, so this research helps them be vehement in teaching as well.
  10. Having been provided with such information, teachers can raise their confidence and overcome shyness by not going through tough times of feeling apprehensive, stressed-out, or fearful and reach the apex of their career.
  1.  Purpose of the study

       Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Some people have general anxiety that is manageable but never seems to go away. Others experience anxiety in social situations, or need order and cleanliness in order to relax. Only by knowing what type of anxiety you’re experiencing you can hope to find relief. Hence, this study seeks to address teachers’ sources of apprehension and anxiety by investigating the consequences of teachers’ apprehension and the role of teachers’ years of teaching experience, educational level, and gender.

  1.  Research questions

This study addresses the following questions which will be replied throughout the research:

1. What are the antecedents of Iranian EFL teachers’ apprehension?

2. What are the ramifications of Iranian EFL teachers’ apprehension?

3. Is EFL teachers’ apprehension scale (TAS) a valid and reliable tool for measuring their teaching apprehension?

4. Is there any relationship between EFL teachers’ apprehension and their burnout depletion?

5. Does EFL teachers’ apprehension differ with their teaching experience?

6. Does EFL teachers’ apprehension differ with their educational level?

7. Does EFL teachers’ apprehension differ with their gender?

  1.  Research hypotheses
  1. EFL teachers’ apprehension scale (TAS) is not a valid and reliable tool for measuring their teaching apprehension.
  2. There is not a significant relationship between EFL teachers’ apprehension and their burnout depletion?
  3. EFL teachers’ apprehension does not differ with their teaching experience?
  4. EFL teachers’ apprehension does not differ with their educational level?
  5. EFL teachers’ apprehension does not differ with their gender?
  1.  Limitations of the study

To approve the information in this study, we will exploit a mixed method research including a questionnaire for the quantitative phase and semi-structured interviews, open-ended questions, diaries, and observations for the qualitative phase. Initially, while self-reports are often cited as a limitation to a study, in this investigation our specific object of inquiry focused on teachers’ viewpoints—which can be acquired only via written self-reports or oral interviews. We will employ interview measures to determine how and why teachers feel fearful and anxious. While the observations of teachers can yield invaluable information about their behaviors, the questionnaire will provide the most well-known, documented source for measuring teacher behaviors and outcomes (Pozo-Munoz et al., 2000). Secondly, the present research is limited to a sample size which can be larger to be more reliable. Thirdly, this study can be carried out in other contexts rather than the place we will conduct it.

  1.  Definitions of the key terms

Apprehension:  Anxiety about the future, especially about dealing with something unpleasant or difficult. (Longman Dictionary, 5th version)

Communicative Apprehension: Communication apprehension (CA) is one type of apprehension which is a type of shyness characterized by fear of or anxiety about communicating with people. Difficulty in speaking in dyads or groups (oral communication anxiety) or in public (“stage fright”), or in listening to or learning a spoken message (receiver anxiety) are all manifestations of communication apprehension. Communication apprehension or some similar reaction obviously plays a large role in foreign language anxiety.The person feels psychologically uncomfortable. Physical Manifestations: “butterflies”, shaking hands and knees, dry mouth, excessive perspiration, elevated heart rate, increased respiration rate, and increased blood pressure. People with high CA have less academic success, take jobs with lower communication requirements, are less satisfied with work, are not viewed as leaders, and are seen as less friendly and less attractive than people with low CA (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986).

BurnoutBurnout is described as “a psychological syndrome of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment that can occur among individuals who work with other people in some capacity. Emotional exhaustion refers to feelings of being emotionally overextended and depleted of one’s emotional resources. Depersonalization refers to a negative, callous, or excessively detached response to other people, who are usually the recipients of one’s services or care” (Maslach, 1993; as cited in Brouwers & Tomic, 2000).

Mixed methods research: According to Dornyei (2007) it involves the collection or analysis of both quantitative and qualitative data in a single study with some attempts to integrate the two approaches at one or more stages of the research process. In other words, it involves the mixing of quantitative and qualitative research methods or paradigm characteristics.

Diary studies: To record the events of people’s everyday lives and to study emotions and mods across situations in daily experiences. Using such data increases research ethical and validity questions (Dornyei, 2007, Research Methods in Applied Linguistics, p. 156).

Interval-contingent method: It requires participants to report on their experiences at regular, predetermined intervals (e.g., every afternoon at 4 o’clock).

Event- contingent method: This study requires participants to provide a self-report each time a specific event, such as meeting with an L2 speaker.

Semi-structured interview: It offers a compromise between the two extremes: although there is a set of pre-planned guiding questions and prompts, the format is open-ended and the interview is encouraged to elaborate on the issues raised in an exploratory manner. In other words, the interviewer provides guidance and direction (hence the “-structured’ part in the name), but is also keen to follow up interesting developments and to let the interviewee elaborate on certain issues (hence the “semi-‘ part). It is suitable for cases when the researcher has a good enough overview of the phenomenon or domain in question and is able to develop broad questions about the topic in advance but does not want to use ready-made response categories that would limit the depth and breadth of the respondent’s story. (Dornyei, 2007, Research Methods in Applied Linguistics, p. 136)

Observation: In language classrooms, the purposeful examination of teaching and/or learning events through systematic processes of data collection and analysis. Observation of teaching is a widely used activity in teacher education programs (Richard, J. C., & Schmidt, R., Dictionary of Longman Teaching and Applied Linguistics, 3rd edition, Pearson Education).

2. Literature Review

     2.1. Relevant Concepts

This section presents some previous studies and their findings regarding the experiences of teachers and sources of English language teaching anxiety. The first serious discussions and analysis of teacher anxiety and stress emerged during the 1960s. In 1977 a review of research on teacher stress was published in Educational Review by Kyriacou and Sutcliffe. Ever since teacher stress has gained a major interest in research throughout the world. When it comes to the process of teaching, we may confuse the words: apprehension, stress, and anxiety. Although they can be considered as synonymous in language teaching, from psychological point of view they are defined in sundry ways.

As Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope proposed, anxiety is the personal feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of the autonomic nervous system. Just as anxiety prevents some people from acting successfully, many people find foreign language learning and teaching in classroom situations, particularly stressful.

According to Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope, Psychologists utilize the term specific anxiety reaction to distinguish people who are generally anxious in a variety of situations from those who are anxious only in particular situations. In other words, anxiety can be classified into two categories: trait anxiety, the former one as mentioned, and state anxiety, the latter one as discussed. The research has been done and it is generally acceptable that many teachers experience state anxiety while teaching.

Additionally, Teacher stress may be defined as the experience gained by a teacher of unpleasant, negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety, tension, frustration or depression, resulting from some aspect of their work as a teacher (Kyriacou & Sutcliffe, 1978).

Stress is considered as a negative emotional experience being triggered by the teacher’s perception that their work situation constituted a threat to their self-esteem or well-being (Kyriacou, 2001). The study indicates that most teachers appear to face a period of self-doubt, disenchantment and reconsideration, in which their concerns are either fixed with them continuing with their job as a teacher or their deciding to leave.

Huberman (as cited in Kyriacou, 2001) reports that amongst the most common reasons quoted for leaving teaching were fatigue, nervous tension, frustration, wear and tear, difficulties in adapting to pupils, personal fragility and routine.

Even though language teachers are supposed to be advanced speakers of their target language, sometimes they indicate considerable amount of anxiety analogous to unexperienced teachers, or the advanced learners. Having studied the target language as a foreign language, a non-native teacher might have difficulty expressing his/her ideas in the target language, hence, they suffer from experiencing some amount of anxiety, stress, or apprehension now and then.

The more anxious a teacher is, the less he can encourage his students to do their best in learning a foreign language based on what Howartz (1996) suggested.

     2.2. Sources of teachers’ apprehension and anxiety

More importantly, many attempts have been made (e.g., Conley, 2008; Litt, 1985; Merç, 2010; Kyriacou, 1978 & 2010; Coates & Thorensen, 1976; Kim, 2004) in order to find deeper truths about symptoms of teachers’ apprehension, anxiety, and stress. More details on this will be given below in Table 1.


Sources of Teachers’ Apprehension and Anxiety

Source of stress Mentioned by Year
  1. Difficult to complete work
  2. Difficulties in relaxing from work during spare time
  3. Not reaching own goals
  4. Learners disturbing lessons
  5. Conflicts between the learners
  6. Hectic work day
  7. Difficulties in conveying a fair and complete impression of a learner to her parents
Mykletun 1984
  1. Lack of time for cooperation with colleagues
  2. Lack of time for planning
  3. Lack of time for studying new teaching aids
  4. Lack of possibilities of contact with pupils on the personal level
  5. Finding difficulties in presenting a meaningful lesson to all learners simultaneously
  6. Teaching does not match the abilities of the gifted learners in class
  7. Teaching does not match the abilities of the slow learners in class
  8. Lack of time to help each learner with her learning difficulties
  9. Not being up to expectations from the new teaching plan
  10. Time pressure while teaching
  11. Lack of support from principal
  12. Collegial cooperation difficulties
  13. In doubt when choosing topics and methods
  14. Finding some topics difficult to teach
  15. Not being up to date in teaching subjects
  16. Dissatisfied with organization of teaching aids
  17. Lack of teaching aids to some lessons
  18. Lack of professional support
  19. Teaching does not capture the interests of all learners
  20. Too many learners in the classrooms
  21. Parents are critical
Mykletun 1984
  1. What will critic teacher will expect of me
  2. What will these pupils will  be like
  3. What should I do if my material has been covered and there is extra time?
  4. Will I be required to turn in my lesson plans, and who will evaluate them?
  5. Do I really know my subject matter?
  6. Will learners like me and respond to my guidance?
  7. Will I be able to maintain desired standards of behavior?
Thompson 1963
  1. Knowing enough to teach the units
  2. How will I be evaluated
  3. What will my supervising teacher be like
Erickson & Rudd 1967
  1. Discipline
  2. Academic organization
  3. Individual differences
  4. Planning
York 1968
  1. Disagreement about what and how to teach
  2. Personality conflicts with supervising teachers
  3. Difficult relations with students
Sorenson & Halpert 1968
  1. Negative interactions between student, teacher, supervising teacher, and college supervisor
Yee 1968
  1. How adequate am I (Concerns with self—)
  2. Where do I stand (is this my class or the supervising teacher’s class?)
  3. Method of providing feedback about teaching performance
Fuller 1969
  1. Trying to uphold/maintain values and standards
  2. Poorly motivated pupils
  3. Covering lessonsfor absent learners
  4. Too much work to do
  5. Lack of time to spend with individual learners
  6. Individual learners who continually misbehave
  7. Learners who show a lack of interest
Kyriacou & Sutcliffe 1978
  1. Not enough time to do the work
  2. Lack of time for marking attitudes and behavior of some other teachers
  3. Inadequate disciplinary policy of school
  4. Difficult classes
  5. Learners’ non-acceptance of teacher’s authority
  6. Constant monitoring of learners’ behavior
  7. Generally high noise level
  8. Noisy learners
  9. large classes
  10. Learners’ impolite behavior or cheek
  11. Inadequate disciplinary sanctions available
  12. Difficult behavior problems
  13. Learners’ general misbehavior
  14. Too much paperwork
  15. Lack of time to prepare lessons
  16. Poor promotion opportunities
  17. Lack of recognition for extra work
  18. Attitudes and behavior of the headmaster
  19. Lack of consensus on minimum standards
  20. Demands on after school time
  21. Responsibility for learners (e.g. exam success)
  22. No time to relax between lessons
  23. Too many periods actually teaching
  24. Lack of time for further study
  25. Low status of the teaching profession
  26. Lack of participation in decision-making
  27. Learners’ general low ability
  28. Maintaining class discipline
  29. Lack of recognition for good teaching
  30. Shortage of equipment
  31. Poor facilities
Kyriacou & Sutcliffe 1978
  1. Time management in class
  2. Giving instructions for classroom activities
  3. Feeling insufficient for effective grammar teaching
  4. Assessing students learning
Numrich 1996
  1. Giving explanations in English
  2. Teaching students with low level of proficiency
  3. Teachers’ seeing that their students did not understand their English
Kongchan & Wareesiri 2008
  1. Lack of professional nursing skills
  2. Lack of communication skills
  3. New environment
  4. Inadequate knowledge
  5. Role of clinical teachers
  6. Teaching-learning methods
  7. Health problems
Limthongkul & Aree-Ue 2009
  1. Dealing with students
  2. Maintaining classrooms
  3. Teaching a difficult subject or teaching a subject for the first time
  4. Being observed by cooperating teachers
  5. Being interrupted by mentors suggesting ways to teach students properly during students’ teaching
Merç 2011
  1. Lack of experience and training for teaching English
  2. Lack of confidence in English communication
Tomohisa 2011
  1.  The feeling of being evaluated
  2.  The feeling of being observed by either the mentor or the supervisor
  3.  Anticipating high expectations of mentors and university supervisors
  4.  Lacking enough ideas about students and classroom management
  5.  Not receiving feedback about their performance
  6.  Teaching four language skills
  7.  Not having enough knowledge and skill in using teaching devices in classroom
  8.  Being left alone without getting care from staff
  9.  Not knowing how to use materials effectively
  10.  Preparing teaching plans
Paker 2011
  1. Teachers’ language proficiency
  2. Teacher expectations about students’ language limitations and low motivation
  3. Students’ attitudes towards studying English
Klanrit & Sroinam 2012

As can be seen, some stressors have got the most attention among the above mentioned factors which can be categorized into two subdivisions: a) Internal factors: 1) lack of communication skills, 2) lack of participation in decision-making, 3) teaching a difficult subject or a subject for the first time, 4) being left alone without getting care from staff,

5) difficult relations with students, 6) not being up-to-date with teaching-subject, 7) being observed by the supervisors or the mentors, 8) planning. b) External factors: 1) Learners’ individual differences, 2) too many learners in the classrooms, 3) lack of facilities, 4) lack of time for covering the lessons, 5) lack of time for cooperating with colleagues, 6) too much work to do, 7) covering lessons for absent students, 8) learners’ misbehaviors, 9) learners’ non-acceptance of teacher’s authority, and 10) poorly motivated learners.

Experiments on teachers’ anxieties and stress were conducted by a group of researchers as mentioned above, let’s take a look back at what they did in details.

Tum (2010, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) carried out a study with 79 non-native EFL teachers from a Middle East University and 131 non-native EFL student teachers joining teacher education programs to a) examine if the diverse participants experienced feelings of foreign language anxiety and b) inspect the relationship between personal features and the levels of anxiety experienced. The student teacher participants were found to experience higher levels of foreign language anxiety than nonnative EFL teachers.

Merç (2011, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) performed a qualitative study including 150 Turkish EFL student teachers to discover what the causes of student teachers’ foreign language anxiety are. Data was gathered from 1) semi-structured interview, and 2) diaries kept by student teachers. The sources of foreign language student teacher anxiety were found in the areas which have been referred to in Table 1.

Tomohisa (2011, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) intended to study Japanese teachers’ English anxiety, sources of anxiety as well as teachers’ anxiety coping strategies- more information on these strategies will be given in the next section. The applicants in this study were 133 Japanese elementary school teachers, one native English teacher, and three in-service teacher trainers. The instruments were “the Teacher Foreign Language Anxiety Scale” (Horwitz, 2008) and “the Situational Teaching Anxiety Scale”. It was discovered that most participants were anxious about their own English proficiency, and about teaching English. The study revealed that teachers with English teaching experience felt less anxious when they themselves taught the target language, and their anxiety came from what has been stated in Table 1.

Tum (2012, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) studied experiencing feelings of anxiety and insufficiency when non-native student teachers used English during their practical teaching experience. Participants included 126 third or fourth year student teachers at two universities in Northern Cyprus. The Teacher Foreign Language Anxiety Scale (TFLAS) questionnaires designed by Horwitz (1996) were distributed and collected to elicit and measure the participants’ feelings and levels of foreign language teaching anxiety. This study found that 19 percent of the participating student teachers were found to be highly anxious when using English (their anxiety scores were higher than the mean which was calculated as 2.6). Additionally the further 27 percent of the participating student teachers had their TFLAS scores higher than 3.

Kunt and Tum (2010, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) conducted a mixed method study to explore the levels of foreign language anxiety experienced by non-native foreign language student teachers, and to explore how foreign language anxiety affects the feelings of students while using the target language in and out of class. The participants of this study were students studying in a teacher education program in North Cyprus.

The instruments used in this study involved The 33 item-self-reported Turkish version of Horwitz’s (1986) Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale and a set of open-ended questions. The source of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety which were reported included attitudes of native speaker friends in the classrooms which dominate the class and make non-native student teachers feel nervous and uncomfortable when required to practice speaking English in the classroom.

Paker (2011, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) did a study entitled “Student teacher anxiety related to the teaching practicum.” The purposes of this study were a) examining the sources of anxiety of student teachers, and b) comparing how different genders of student teachers are affected. There were 101 Turkish student teachers studying at English Language Teaching Department at a Faculty of Education. The results also revealed that students’ anxiety of all factors decreased after the student teachers finished their teaching practicum. This study also highlighted 10 sources of student teachers anxieties which have been noted in Table 1.

     2.3. Consequences of teachers’ apprehension and anxiety

Few studies have addressed the consequences of teachers’ apprehension and anxieties. Amongst those who have worked on teachers’ misbehaviors which may result from being under pressure and feeling anxious, Kearney, Plax, Hays, and Ivey (1991) presented that some factors are considered as teachers’ misbehaviors, for instance, confusing/unclear lectures, being apathetic to students, unfair testing, boring lectures, information overload, not knowing the subject matter, foreign or regional accents, inappropriate volume, and bad grammar or spelling, deviating from syllabus, late returning work, and sarcasm and putdowns.

As Kelsey, Kearney, Plax, Allen, and Ritter (2004) noted the results suggested that students’ attributions of teacher misbehaviors can be reduced to those two underlying factors, internal and external, however, it goes without saying that the students didn’t put the blame on teachers considering the external attributions; from the students’ point of view it was done unintentionally.

       2.4. Solutions for teachers’ apprehension and anxiety

Many attempts have been made [e.g., Farrell, 2016; Goodwin, 2016, Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014; Leggo, 2011; Kyriacou, 2010; Young, 1992; Coates & Thorensen, 1976] with the purpose of finding solutions to this underlying issue, teachers’ apprehension and anxieties. The result of the study was done by Klaiphan (2014, as cited in Suwannaset & Rimkeeratikul, 2014) highlighted that the Institute of physical education could diminish stresses experienced by their student teachers during practical teaching by 1) arranging a good orientation for their student teachers before transferring them to schools, 2) ensuring that their students are trained and identify how to apply a number of teaching methods, and 3) training their student teachers to integrate teaching with activities in the practice.

Coping strategies fall into two categories, as Kyriacou (2010) proposed. The first one is direct action techniques and the second one entitled palliative techniques.

The former one is associated with things that a teacher can do that eradicate the source of stress. Direct action techniques may involve merely managing or organizing oneself more effectively; it may encompass developing new knowledge, skills and working practices; it may involve negotiating with colleagues, so that aspects of one’s situation are improved or dealt with by others. Palliative techniques do not handle the source of stress itself, but rather are meant to lessen the feeling of stress that occurs. Palliative techniques can be mental or physical. Mental strategies involve the teacher in trying to change how the situation is evaluated. Physical strategies involve activities that help the teacher regain a sense of being relaxed, by relieving any tension and anxiety that has built up.

Studies of how teachers cope with stress (see for example Borg & Falzon, 1990;

Cockburn, 1996; Benmansour, 1998 as cited in Kyriacou, 2010) show that the most frequent coping actions used by teachers are as listed below:

  1. try to keep problems in perspective;
  2. avoid confrontations;
  3. try to relax after work;
  4. take action to deal with problems;
  5. keeping feelings under control;
  6. devote more time to particular tasks;
  7. discuss problems and express feelings to others;
  8. have a healthy home life;
  9. plan ahead and prioritize;
  10. recognize one’s own limitations.

As can be seen, this list reflects the fusion of direct action and palliative techniques described earlier.

In his study on confessions of a fearful teacher, Leggo (2011) suggested that love should be taken into consideration if we intend our teachers to reduce their anxiety and overcome their fear. Then he shed some light on why he thinks love is so crucial in doing so. His justifications are as follows:

1) Love is to understand, “There’s too much for us to know.”

2) Love is to communicate, “To share the joyful and the dreadful stories, to speak with confidence that you will be heard, and to listen with care because you really want to hear what others are eager to tell.”

3) Love is to celebrate, “Classrooms need to be places for celebration, for laughter, for acknowledging the presence and accomplishments and joys of others.”

4) Love is to empower, “Love seeks transformation, the ongoing organic process of creative change.”

5) Love is to forgive, “I am practicing accepting myself, acknowledging the hollow in my heart, giving myself the benefit of the doubt, acknowledging the holes that sometimes look like gaping wounds but are really integral to my search for wholeness. And I learn to know myself as a subject-in-process.”

Bell Hooks writes (2003, as cited in Leggo, 2011): “Love in the classroom prepares teachers and students to open their minds and hearts. It is the foundation on which every learning community can be created. Teachers need not fear that practicing love in the classroom will lead to favoritism. Love will always move us away from domination in all its forms. Love will always challenge and change us. This is the heart of the matter.”

Goodwin (2016) noted that teacher preparation programs prepare the student teachers for the future positions.

Farrell highlighted the role of experience in the level of anxiety that teachers experience. Teaching is “the profession that eats its young” (Halford, 1998, as cited in Farrell, 2016) is a dramatic statement. Novice teachers encounter several challenges and anxieties during their first year that may contribute to feelings of frustration, insufficiency, stress or isolation. According to Farrell, 24 percent of teachers drop out of teaching within the first year, 33 percent leave after three years and between 40 percent and 50 percent quit within the first five years (Joiner & Edwards, 2008). DelliCarpini (2009, as cited in Farrell, 2016) claimed that the novice TESOL teachers in her study stated that from the very beginning they felt isolated because they had the feelings of “sink or swim on their own.”

Some teachers started to feel like failures because they cannot cope and feel so dejected that they leave the profession. Thus it becomes obvious that only the most determined can survive their first year and without more support, we will endure to lose our best and brightest teachers (Farrell, 2009; Ingersoll & Strong, 2011; as cited in Farrell, 2016). Hence, the more experienced a teacher gets, the less anxious he/she feels based on what Farrell noted.

On the other hand, in the present study, another issue that is taken into account is whether teachers experience an equal amount of anxiety in all four skills- listening, speaking, reading, and writing. In accordance with what Young (1992) underlined that all four language specialists, Krashen, Hadley, Terrell, and Rardinadmit that speakingin the foreign language probably producesthe greatest amount of anxiety in languagelearners even thoughany of the four skills can cause anxiety in learners depending on variables such as learner’slanguage experiences and the relationship between the native and target language (it was a study done on language anxiety). Speaking is considered as the most anxiety-provoking skill since Hadley believes that the students aremore anxious when they arecalled on to utilize the language in an integrative way, when they have to make innovative utterances in the foreign language. She suggests that anxiety increases whenstudents take risks (as cited in Young, 1992).

Krashen contends that anxiety is efficiently managed when language is taught in ways consistent with the Input Hypothesis (i+1, people acquire language best from messages that are a bit beyond their current competence). Based on Young (1992), Rardin proposes that teachers are also learning counselors, and one of their drives is to create a secure ambiance by building trust between the teacher and student.  Hadley’s recommendations for managing language anxiety (as cited in Young, 1992) contain shunning putting students on the spot or concentrating on their errors, permitting open-ended responses in addition to discrete-point responses, fostering small group practice, putting emphasis on what students say instead of just on how they say it, and changing instructor attitudes toward mistakes. She alsobelieves that using techniques that can aid students in speaking, such as using conversation cards or having student cues for asking each other questions, may reduce their anxiety. Despite the fact that the objective of the present research is to discover some solutions in order to reduce the anxiety experienced by the teachers while teaching four skills, it can be of great importance to consider this aspect of the study on the part of the learners as well.


In the present research, two methods of data collection namely, qualitative and quantitative methods will be utilized, a mixed methods research(QUAL→ quan). The merit of exploiting more than one method of data collection is that it allows a triangulation of methods which gives the research more validity and provides an opportunity for the findings of one method to be cross-checked with the other (Bryman, 2001). For the qualitative approach semi-structured interviews, diaries, open-ended questions, and the teaching behavior observation will be applied, and for the quantitative method, a questionnaire measuring EFL teachers’ apprehension will be designed and validated.

3.1. Participants

3.1.1. Participants of the qualitative phase Participants of the interview

The participants for the qualitative phase, will be six non-native teachers- four female teachers and two male teachers. 5 out of the seven participants have MA degrees in English Language teaching, one in English Translation, and one in civil engineering, the remaining has BA degrees in English Language teaching (age ranged from 22 to 33 years). They will be chosen according to convenience sampling among EFL teachers teaching English in Language Institutes in Mashhad after a succinct explanation of the objective of the research. 4 female candidates are in their early thirties and two male candidates are in their mid-twenties. Their years of teaching English would vary from 2 to 11 years, with the mean number of years spent teaching being 6.5.

To collect reliable data, the respondents will also be reassured on the issue of confidentiality to facilitate a relaxed, non-threatening atmosphere. Additionally, the researcher will alleviate them by letting them know that their ideas will be used for the purpose of the study, not for judging them in the context of teaching. Each interview will last half an hour. In order to create initial rapport, we will help them relax and encourage them to open up by giving them a brief example and some more explanation about it. This interview will center on three pre-planned questions: a) what is the rationale behind your being anxious and stressed while teaching, b) how you can mollify yourself and cope with your stress when you are under pressure during the class, c) what are the influences of stress you experienced while teaching on your performance?.

Follow-up questions will be asked depending on individual responses as well. The final closing question will be asked which allow the respondent to have the final opinions. All interviews will be audio-recorded with the respondents’ permission. All interviews will take place in the Language institute. Table 2 encapsulates the background information of the six participants.

Table 2.

Background Information of Six Interviewees

Participant (pseudonym) Gender/age Highest degree years of experience WTC
Akram Female/30 MA in English Ed. 4 Low
Mahboube Female/30 MA in English Ed. 11 high
Elahe Female/32 MA in English Ed. 5 moderate
Narges Female/29 MA in English Ed. 10 high
Mohammad Male/27 MA in civil engineering 5 moderate
Rasoul Male/22 BA in English Ed. 3 high Participants of the open-ended questions

Furthermore, 10 teachers will be selected randomly to complete the following open-ended sentence: in my classes, I feel anxious and fearful when….

To save time, they will be granted this chance to send their answers 4 days later. Similarly, they will be told that their views will be kept confidential to feel comfortable so as to express themselves. What’s more, 5 teachers’ classes will be observed.

       3.1.13. Participants of the diary

To give weight to the present study, 3 experienced teachers, including the researcher, have commenced keeping a diary explicating the situations they feel stressed-out, anxious, or fearful in their classes. In order to record diary studies, a group will be formed in Telegram which is a social networking application and both interval-contingent and event-contingent method have been applied. They will share their ideas on the subject every other day and also have a meeting each month so as to report on their experiences and discuss the issue. They also talk over the solutions to the problems which arise on the subject of teaching in their own classes. They will feel relieved to exchange their viewpoints in order to apply them in their classes to see if those remedies can work. Interestingly, in order that teachers are fortified to share their ideas, they will be invited out for lunch.

3.1.2. Participants of the quantitative phase

Having categorized the antecedents and consequences of Iranian EFL teachers’ apprehension, a questionnaire measuring teacher apprehension based on the generated ideas will be designed. The questionnaire will be administered to 150 EFL teachers to validate it.

Instruments        3.2.

      EFL Teacher Apprehension Scale (TAS):  Having categorized the antecedents and consequences of Iranian EFL teachers’ apprehension, a questionnaire measuring teacher apprehension based on the generated ideas will be designed. In addition, FLTAS, Foreign Language Teaching Anxiety Scale, developed by Horwitz (1983) will be utilized for paving the way for item generation in determining apprehension relevant to teaching area. The questionnaire will be administered to 150 EFL teachers to validate it. To ensure content validity of the scale, a team of experts and specialists (2 experienced EFL teachers, a psychometrician, and 2 educationalists) will examine the relevance and comprehensibility of the items. To determine construct validity of the scale, exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) will be applied to collected data. To determine concurrent vanity, the association of the newly-developed scale will a closely related construct, i.e., teacher burnout will be examined.

Teacher burnout inventory:

The Maslach burnout inventory is the most frequently used instrument for assessing burnout. The educator version of the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI-ES) developed by Maslach, Jackson, and Leiter, (1996) will be utilized in the present study for measuring teacher burnout. The scale comprises 22 self-report items measuring three subscales as indicated in Table 3.

Table 3Sub-scales of the MBI-ES along With the Corresponding Descriptions

Subscale Definition Alpha
Emotional Exhaustion teachers’ feeling that they have little left to give, at a psychological level, to their work .76.63


Depersonalization teachers’ development of negative and cynical attitudes towards students
Reduced  Personal Accomplishment teachers’ evaluation of themselves and their accomplishments negatively

The frequency of the burnout symptoms is measured on a seven-point rating scale, ranging from “never” (0) to “every day” (6). Via this inventory, burnout is be defined as the presence of high scores on the emotional exhaustion and depersonalization components but as the presence of low scores on the personal accomplishment component. The inventory enjoys high reliability and validity indices (Hastings & Bham, 2003).  The reliability coefficients for emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment are .76, .63, and .73, respectively (Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996). The following Table displays the items of each subscales.

Table 4.

Classification of Different Items of Burnout Scale

Sub-Scales Item  #
Emotional Exhaustion 1, 4, 9, 10, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22
Personal accomplishment 3*, 6*, 7*, 12*, 13*, 17*, 19*, 21*
Depersonalization 2, 5, 8, 11, 14

      3.3. Data analysis

In order to scrutinize the qualitative data in this study, the responses that will be collected from the interview protocols and diary will be tabulated and analyzed using MAXQDA software. To substantiate the validity of the scale, SPSS 21 and LISREL 8.5 will be utilized.


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