The Master thesis examines classroom anxiety of the 6th Grade primary School students in relation to their learning achievements in English as a foreign language. In many a thing, the English class differs from other classes and it is precisely this unique learning situation that can provoke anxiety in students.
The Master thesis consists of a theoretical and empirical part. The theoretical part reviews the literature available on the current state of teaching and learning English as a foreign language in the Slovenian public primary schools. In addition, some individual differences among students, which influence their skills to learn and master a foreign language, are discussed. A short presentation of general anxiety is followed by a detailed description of anxiety caused by a foreign language, specifically in foreign language classes. The focus of the theoretical part is on different strategies for reducing or eliminating anxiety. The empirical part first shows the results of the research study, conducted in May 2016 at four in advance selected schools from the region of Goriška and one from the Osrednjeslovenska region. The sample consisted of 187 6th Grade students. FLCAS questionnaire, which was translated and adapted for the purposes of this research study, was used to study the degree of anxiety. We were trying to establish the level of anxiety and determine with some additional questions its correlation to some specific variables, such as sex, the starting age of learning the English language, the final grade achieved in English in Grade 5, the frequency of reading English books, watching English movies and cartoons, the usage of English during travelling abroad and the frequency of listening to English songs. The results show that nearly half the students experience medium strong or very strong anxiety in English as a foreign language. Statistically significant differences were found in relation to students’ sex and the starting age of learning English. Girls experience a higher level of anxiety than boys. Those who began learning English in Grade 4 experience a higher level of anxiety than those who started learning it before the official age. The research also shows that a lower level of anxiety is experienced by students who are more often exposed to English, for example by watching English movies and cartoons, by reading English books and by using English while travelling.
The master thesis represents one of the few research studies which determine anxiety in studying English as a foreign language at the primary level. This is why this thesis could support teachers and parents who are dealing with children, hindered by the fear of learning English. The guidelines that are elaborated here will make it easier to identify these children. Furthermore, the suggested strategies for reducing anxiety will be a tool for helping these students with their studies and improving their attitude toward the English language.