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PhD student Takako Inada at international linguistics conference

PhD Student Takako Inada presented at the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Conference at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Island on 1st November 2014.

PhD Student Takako Inada presented at the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Conference at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Island on 1 November 2014.

I participated in the Interdisciplinary Linguistics Conference (ILinC) at Queen’s University of Belfast, Northern Island. It is a postgraduate-run conference targeted at students at all level of language study from the UK and beyond. The theme of this year’s conference was “Making a difference: Language and Social Impact”. Its aim was to stimulate discussion of issues around applying linguistics research to broader contexts, considering developing new methodologies and models of research, collaborative and interdisciplinary projects, and research into previously neglected topics in linguistic study. The keynote speakers were Dr Dominic Watt, whose title was “How forensic phonetics helps solve crimes, and can help decide whether a crime was even committed”, Dr Goodith White, “The use of mobile phones in human trafficking: implications for language use, genre hybridity and expression of identity”, and Linda Ervine, “The Miracle that is Turas”.

At the conference, I made a presentation entitled “Why do Japanese EFL college students feel foreign language classroom anxiety (FLCA)?” based on my current PhD research. The paper was written under the supervision of Dr Jean-Marc Dewaele. Language class risk-taking, task difficulty, and final grade are closely linked with FLCA of learners (Carless 2008; Saito & Samimy 1996). Moreover, students feel reticent due to a lack of confidence, a fear of making mistakes, and peer pressure, and highly anxious students can suffer from low self-esteem (Young 1990). In this paper I carried out a qualitative analysis using individual interview data. Interviews were conducted with 37 language major Japanese college students in a private university in Japan (11 males and 26 females, 18-21 age range) in low, middle, and high level of anxiety. Each student had a 45 to 90 minutes, face-to-face interview in Japanese, which was audio-recorded. The corpus size was 775 references, according to the analysis by Nvivo 10 qualitative software*1.

The results showed that the reasons of FLCA ranged from time pressure, low motivation, low self-confidence, the restriction of L1 use, fear of making mistakes, incompatible pairing partners, an uncomfortable classroom atmosphere, to gender differences. The current findings have important implications for teachers. They should allow students sufficient preparation time for conversations and presentations, not expecting students to progress quickly. Teachers can create students’ centered classrooms by making students do pair or group work, giving students freedom of selecting topics and language. When teachers notice students’ mistakes, they can recast instead of explicit error corrections in order not to make students lose face. Teachers should replace difficult words and expressions with easy English or explain by writing them on a blackboard. Teachers themselves can be good role models by speaking only English, encouraging students to learn simple English instead of using Japanese. At the beginning of a semester, teachers should clearly explain how students are to be assessed in class and evaluate them fairly. Teachers can instruct students how to create a safe, comfortable, and collaborative classroom. Teachers should deal with students considering gender differences, and create lessons where students can develop motivation and self-confidence.

The presentation was well received and I found that the conference was stimulating, gave me the opportunity to meet other researchers, and refreshed my research by sharing idea with the attendees.

*1. Nvivo is a qualitative data analysis (QDA) computer software package, which has been designed for qualitative researchers organizing non-numerical or unstructured data. The software allows users to classify, sort and arrange information; examine relationships in the data; and combine analysis with linking, shaping, searching and modeling.


Carless, D. (2008). Student use of the mother tongue in the task-based classroom. ELT Journal, 62(4), 331-338.

Saito, Y., & Samimy, K. K. (1996). Foreign language anxiety and language performance: A study of learner anxiety in beginning, intermediate, and advanced-level college students of Japanese. Foreign Language Annals, 29(2), 239-249.

Young, D. J. (1990). An investigation of students' perspectives on anxiety and speaking. Foreign language Annals, 23(6), 539-567.