SciELO - Scientific Electronic Library Online

 
vol.39 número62Estrategias efectivas de feedback positivo y correctivo en el español como lengua extranjeraEl modo de organización argumentativo en textos de divulgación de biogenética en la prensa escrita chilena índice de autoresíndice de materiabúsqueda de artículos
Home Pagelista alfabética de revistas  

Servicios Personalizados

Revista

Articulo

Indicadores

Links relacionados

Compartir


Revista signos

versión On-line ISSN 0718-0934

Rev. signos v.39 n.62 Valparaíso  2006

http://dx.doi.org/10.4067/S0718-09342006000300004 

 

Revista Signos 2006, 39(62) 407-426

ARTÍCULOS

 

A cross-cultural comparison of nonverbal teacher immediacy and foreign language anxiety in Chilean and Russian English language classrooms

Una comparación transcultural de la urgencia no verbal del profesor y de la ansiedad del estudiante de inglés en salas de clase chilenas y rusas

Tammy Gregersen

Universidad del Norte de Iowa

Estados Unidos de Norteamérica

Dirección para correspondencia


ABSTRACT

This cross-cultural study examines instructor nonverbal immediacy in Chilean and Russian English classrooms and its relationship to Foreign Language Anxiety. Participants included 84 undergraduate university students (33 Chilean students enrolled at a small state university in Northern Chile; and 51 Russian students enrolled at a large state university in Moscow). Results indicate that: (a) Chilean students receiving instruction from Chilean professors perceive a significantly greater amount of instructor nonverbal immediacy than Russian students who receive instruction from Russian instructors; (b) Chilean students self-reporte significantly higher levels of Foreign Language Anxiety than their Russian counterparts; and (c) Foreign Language Anxiety is only slightly negatively correlated with one nonverbal teacher immediacy item in the Russian population and is not correlated with any items in the Chilean sample. Conclusions focus on the important role that culture plays in classroom language teaching and the implications for teacher training.

Key Words: Nonverbal immediacy, Foreign Language Anxiety, cross culture.


RESUMEN

Este análisis transcultural estudia los gestos de inmediatos en las clases de inglés en Chile y Rusia y su relación con la ansiedad en los idiomas extranjeros. Los participantes fueron 84 estudiantes universitarios de pregrado (33 chilenos matriculados en una pequeña universidad estatal en el norte chileno y 51 estudiantes rusos matriculados en una universidad grande en Moscú). Los resultados indican que: a) los estudiantes chilenos que recibieron clases de profesores chilenos percibieron muchos más gestos inmediatos que los estudiantes rusos que recibieron clases de profesores rusos; b) los estudiantes chilenos revelan niveles muchos más altos de ansiedad en el aprendizaje de idiomas extranjeros que sus homólogos rusos; y c) la ansiedad muestra una leve correlación negativa con un ítem de los gestos del profesor en la población rusa y no está correlacionada con ningún ítem en los ejemplos chilenos. Las conclusiones se centran en la importancia del papel que tiene la cultura en las clases de idiomas extranjeros y las implicaciones para la formación docente.

Palabras Clave: Gestos inmediatos, ansiedad en los idiomas extranjeros, transculturación.


INTRODUCTION

Foreign language (FL) anxiety is an equal opportunity aggressor. Its debilitating presence in FL learners is not dependent upon race, national origin or gender. Although its frequency, strength, and effects may differ among specific populations, its presence has been detected in FL learners as diverse as Spanish-speaking Chilean populations learning English (Gregersen & Horwitz, 2002), English-speaking American university students studying Spanish, German, French, Japanese, and Arabic (Horwitz, 1991; Aida, 1994; Saito & Samimy, 1996; Kitano, 2001; Elkhafaifi, 2005), and Venezuelan students learning French (Rodriguez & Abreu, 2003). Thus, FL anxiety is a clear and present debilitating affective factor that crosses linguistic and cultural boundaries.

The surge in FL anxiety research in the past two decades can be attributed to the recognition of the negative impact that FL anxiety has in the foreign language acquisition process, and the challenge for applied linguists to find pedagogical techniques that can limit its effects. Among the barrage of adverse effects for language anxious learners are freezing up during oral classroom activities, experiencing memory loss, and participating less frequently (Ely, 1996; Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope, 1991). Furthermore, anxious learners will not handle language errors as effectively as their nonanxious counterparts (Gregersen, 2003) and will have the tendency to engage in negative self-talk and brood over poor performance thus affecting information-processing abilities (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1991). Gregersen and Horwitz (2002) also suggest that anxious learners will exhibit avoidance behaviors by skipping class or putting off assignments and will have unrealistic high personal performance standards. Ultimately all of these effects will culminate in lower course grades (Gardner, 1985).

Among the strategies and techniques that researchers have given to combat the ills of FL anxiety are to create student support systems and to utilize selective error correction techniques (Horwitz et al., 1991) that focus on the message rather than on accuracy (Price, 1991); give careful consideration to the assessment formats used to evaluate linguistic proficiency (Madsen, Brown & Jones, 1991); plan activities which include small groups or one-on-one activities instead of whole groups, and to remind students of the instructional value of making mistakes (Price, 1991).  Beyond these specific ideas, few FL anxiety researchers would debate the importance of giving learners a great deal of encouragement and positive reinforcement (Price, 1991) and being aware of classroom climate (Horwitz et al., 1991). The question is how teachers can do this most effectively.

Nonverbal immediacy

One possible answer may be found in recent investigations in the area of FL anxiety which suggest that the concept of immediacy may generate more positive affective feelings on the part of learners (Gregersen, 2005). Gregersen speculates that FL educators could possibly influence student affect through their own nonverbal cues by using more immediate behavior. Immediacy is defined as “behaviors that enhance closeness to and nonverbal interaction with another” (Mehrabian, 1969). The principle behind this is that people are drawn toward persons and things they like, evaluate highly and prefer, while they avoid things they dislike, negatively evaluate and do not prefer (Mehrabian, 1971). Immediate behaviors, therefore, would reduce the psychological and physical distance between two individuals. Some of the behaviors that indicate nonverbal classroom immediacy are maintaining eye contact, gesturing while lecturing, using varied intonation while speaking, standing close to students, maintaining a relaxed, open body position, moving around the classroom, and smiling at students. Verbal immediacy, on the other hand includes behaviors such as using personal examples, encouraging students to talk, discussing student topics, using humor, addressing students by name, having conversations outside of class, praising student work, soliciting viewpoints, and discussing issues unrelated to class (Gorham, 1988). 

In essence, immediacy behaviors signal approachability and availability for communication, increase sensory stimulation, and communicate interpersonal warmth and closeness (Andersen, 1979). One need not ponder too deeply, then, the positive connection that teacher immediacy behavior has on increased teacher effectiveness.  In fact, previous investigations have shown that immediacy positively influenced student affect toward teacher communication, course content, the course in general, and the course instructor (Andersen, 1985). Immediacy was also positively related to the probability of students engaging in similar communicative events and enrolling in another related course. Teachers who exhibited more immediacy also stimulated greater student state motivation (Christophel, 1990). And finally, one of the most interesting findings for this study is that students’ perceptions of teachers’ nonverbal immediacy were positively related to students’ affective learning (Gorham, 1988). Thus, the nonverbally immediate teacher is likely to generate more positive feelings on the part of the student, and would hence seem likely to influence the development of favorable attitudes towards the learning situation (Plax, 1986).

The impact of culture

However, most research on immediacy has been carried out in U.S. college classrooms, and because an individual’s communication behavior and competencies are defined by culture (McCroskey, Sallinen, Fayer, Richmond & Barraclough, 1995), one cannot assume that communication practices that work well in one culture will also work just as well in another culture. For this reason, this study will examine instructional immediacy and foreign language anxiety in two different cultures where little is known about these variables: Chile and Russia.

Burgoon and Hale’s (1988) model of nonverbal expectancy gives insight into how immediacy may be influenced by culture. In developing their model, they theorized that interactants in interpersonal encounters develop expectations and preferences about the nonverbal behaviors of others. Positive violations to nonverbal expectations (i.e., being more immediate in a low immediate culture, i.e., in a culture where expectations for immediacy are low) produce more favorable communication outcomes than conformity to expectations, while negative violations (being less immediate in a highly immediate culture, i.e., in a culture where expectations for immediacy are high) produce less favorable ones.

McCroskey et al. (1995) examined the relationship between cognitive learning and nonverbal immediacy in the cultures of Australia, Finland, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Although they found a strong positive relationship between the two variables, the strength of that correlation varied greatly among the cultures. They posited that in highly immediate cultures students expect their teachers to be highly immediate and violations of those expectations by being less immediate may have negative consequences on cognitive learning. Contrarily, in less immediate cultures where students expect low teacher immediacy, the violation of those expectations by being more immediate may have strong positive effects on cognitive learning.

Cross-cultural research comparing instructor communication in the U.S. and Germany (Roach & Byrne, 2001) and the U.S. and China (Myers, Zhong & Guan, 1998) revealed similar results. In both studies, American professors were perceived as significantly more immediate than their Chinese and German counterparts. In the Chinese study, students’ affective and cognitive learning were slightly correlated with particular Chinese instructor nonverbal behaviors, while in the German study, American students reported significantly higher perceptions of cognitive learning than those reported by the German students.

Although Johnson and Miller (2002) also found positive relationships between immediacy and other desirable educational outcomes in their study involving Kenyan and American students, their research raised interesting questions about how individuals from differing cultures may perceive specific items that supposedly define immediacy for U.S. students.  They state:

“It is possible for some items that define immediacy effectively for U.S. students may do so less effectively for those from other cultures. That is, some items used to define… nonverbal immediacy on present measures may be less strongly associated with immediacy than with other issues, for instance cultural status, for Kenyan students and faculty” (Johnson & Miller, 2002: 289).

Johnson and Miller (2002) suggest that if certain immediacy behaviors are deemed inappropriate by persons of divergent status as defined by their cultural roles (i.e., student/professor in the case of Kenya), an inappropriate use of immediacy may result in negative educational outcomes. 

Comparison of Chilean and Russian cultures

When comparing communication behavior between the Chilean and Russian cultures, reflecting upon basic dimensions or aspects of culture provides a point of departure. Hofstede (1984) analyzed a large data base of responses collected over a period of six years covering more than 70 countries and developed a model that identifies four primary dimensions that assist in differentiating cultures: Power Distance Index (PDI); Individualism (IDV); Uncertainty Avoidance Index (UAI), and Masculinity (MAS).

Power Distance deals with fundamental concepts of human inequality and measures the interpersonal power between two individuals as perceived by the less powerful of the two. Some cultures have a greater power distance while others are more egalitarian. In educational contexts, low power distance cultures produce students who value independence, in general are not authoritarian, and have positive associations with wealth and power. On the other hand, students from high power distance cultures have a higher probability of valuing conformity, demonstrating authoritarian attitudes, and having negative association with power and wealth (Hofstede, 2003).

The second dimension outlined by Hofstede (1984) focuses on Individualism, and describes the relationship between the individual and the collectivity. The question at hand is how much commitment the member has to his/her group, whether it be family, extended family, or extended relationships. While loyalty in a collectivist culture is paramount and over-rides most other societal rules and regulations, the ability to make one’s own choices is uppermost in an individualistically oriented society. Although collectivistic cultures foster strong relationships where everyone takes responsibility for fellow members of their group and subjugate the “self” to the interests and values of the community, a member of individualist societies makes decisions based on what he/she wants and thinks is most advantageous for him/her. In the educational context, students from low individualistic cultures would consider it less socially acceptable to pursue their own goals without considering others, believe that duty in life is important and undergo more years of schooling to qualify for a specific career. Individualistic cultures, however, foster students who would find it more socially acceptable to pursue their own goals without considering the group, believe that enjoyment in life is more important than duty, and would ultimately attend school for less time for the same job as their collectivistic counterparts (Hofstede, 1984).

Uncertainty avoidance is anchored in our inability to know what the future holds. It focuses on the level of tolerance for ambiguity and unstructured situations within the society. Cultures whose scores reflect high Uncertainty Avoidance have a tendency to be rule-oriented, and institute laws, rules, and regulations that control or reduce the level of uncertainty. In general, people will probably worry more about the future, have less achievement motivation, have a greater fear of failure, and engage in less risk-taking. A low ranking in this dimension, however, indicates that the people of the country have less concern about ambiguity and a greater tolerance for a variety of opinions. These cultures are less rule-oriented, more readily accept change, and take more and greater risks. Furthermore, people are more likely to live in the moment, have stronger achievement motivation, have greater hopes of success, and engage in more risk-taking (Hofstede, 1984).              

Finally, Masculinity focuses on the degree the society reinforces, or does not reinforce, the traditional masculine work role model of male achievement, control, and power. Traditionally, aggressive, competitive tactics are more closely associated with the male gender while females are recognized as greater nurturers and relationship-builders. Considering the educational context, low Masculine cultures are less likely to have students who are interested in recognition and have more sympathy for the weak, whereas students from high Masculine cultures more likely aspire to recognition, admire the strong, and are probably less benevolent (Hofstede, 1984).

Using these four cultural dimensions as a point of departure for discussing Chilean and Russian cultures illuminates some insightful differences. The following numbers were taken from a larger investigation where Chile and Russia were only two of the 39 participating countries. Table 1 shows Hofstede’s (2003) findings on the scores from both cultures on all four dimensions. As a reference, the average score from the 39 countries involved in Hofstede’s (2003) study are also included.

Table 1. A comparison of Chilean and Russian scores on the four dimensions of power.


Cultural dimensions

Chile

Russia

International


Power distance (PDI)

62

92

51

Individualism (IDV)

21

40

51

Uncertainty avoidance (UAI)

86

96

39

Masculinity (MAS)

28

37

51


The average score on the PDI dimension of culture was 51 for the 39 countries involved in Hofstede’s (2003) study.  The PDI score for Russia (92) surpassed the Chilean score (62) by 30 points, demonstrating that power distances in Russia are higher than those in Chile, but that both of these countries have scores well over the average suggesting that both countries are less egalitarian in nature than the rest of the world. In terms of IDV scores, both Russia and Chile fall below the international average (51), although Russia with a score of 40 is more individualistic than Chile with their score of 21. The U.S., scoring 91 was the most individualistic, while Guatemala scored the lowest with 6. The majority of collectivistic cultures were found in Latin America. As for the dimension of UAI, both Russia (96) and Chile (86) greatly surpassed the international average of 39 points. With only ten points separating them, both cultures have a low tolerance for ambiguity. In fact, Russia is surpassed by only four other countries on this dimension. Finally, the least difference (9 points) between Russia and Chile was found when considering MAS. The international mean was 51, with Russia slightly outscoring Chile with scores of 37 and 28, respectively. 

Thus, the purpose of this study was to investigate whether Russian and Chilean students differed in their perceptions of instructor nonverbal immediacy, and how perceived instructor immediacy was related to self-reported levels of FL anxiety. The questions that beg answers then are: 1) Are there significant differences in Russian and Chilean students’ perceptions of instructor nonverbal immediacy and in their self-reported levels of FL anxiety? 2) Is there a relationship between FL anxiety and specific immediacy behaviors? i.e., are there specific nonverbal immediacy behaviors in one culture that will more effectively correlate with a reduction in FL anxiety?

Methodology

Particispants

 Two surveys were administered to undergraduate students studying English-related curricula in Chile and Russia. The 33 members of the Chilean population were in their second and third years of study at a small state university in the North of Chile. Twenty-three were female; 10 were male. The 51 participants from Russia were also in their second and third years of English studies, but at a large state university in Moscow. In this case, 35 were female, while 16 were male. Participation was voluntary, and students were required to give their consent by signing an informed consent form.

The questionnaires

At the outset of the study, researchers in both Russia and Chile entered different English language classrooms (having prior instructor approval) and asked students to complete two questionnaires, the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz et al., 1991) (see Appendix A) and the Revised Nonverbal Immediacy Measure (RNIM) (McCroskey, Fayer, Richmond, Sallinen & Barraclough, 1996) (see Appendix B).

The Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) is a 33-item, self-report Likert-type measure of anxiety specific to language learning (Horwitz et al., 1991). Participants were asked to respond on a scale from one to five (“strongly agree” to “strongly disagree”) to items that assess their degree of anxiety. Reversed scores were given to negatively worded items, so that high scores represented high levels of anxiety, with possible scores ranging from 33 to 165. Validity and reliability studies on this instrument have demonstrated that the scale is both reliable and valid, with an alpha coefficient of .93 and an eight-week test-retest coefficient of .83 (Horwitz, 1991).

The Nonverbal Immediacy Measure (NIM) (Richmond, Gorham & McCroskey, 1987) is an instrument used to measure students ‘perceptions of their instructors’ nonverbal immediacy. Originally, this 14-item instrument was created as a low-inference measure with a reference base similar for all students, regardless of subject matter or student culture. It is a five point Likert scale (0 = Never; 1 = Rarely; 2 = Occasionally; 3 = Often; and 4 = Very Often) asking participants to respond to items that best describe their instructors’ nonverbal immediacy like, “Looks at the class while talking”. However, examination of data from earlier research in college classrooms demonstrated that the items relating to “touch and sitting or standing while teaching” were poor items in all of the samples due to the almost nonexistent touching of college students by their professors in virtually all cultures. Furthermore, previous research also indicated that, sitting or standing, college teachers are able to be immediate in both positions (McCroskey et al., 1995). With these items removed, the revised instrument (RNIM) contains ten items whose reliability has been demonstrated in previous studies as falling between .69 and .89 for the summed scale. The measure is found in Figure 1:

Figure 1. Revised nonverbal immediacy measure.

 

Directions: Below are a series of descriptions of things some teachers have been observed doing in some classes. Please respond to the statements in terms how well they apply to this teacher. Please use the following scale to respond to each of the statements:

Never = 0  Rarely = 1  Occasionally = 2  Often = 3  Very Often = 4

_____ 1. Gestures while talking to the class.

_____ 2. Uses monotone/dull voice when talking to the class. *

_____ 3. Looks at the class while talking.

_____ 4. Smiles at the class while talking.

_____ 5. Has a very tense body position while talking to the class. *

_____ 6. Moves around the classroom while teaching.

_____ 7. Looks at the board or notes while talking to the class. *

_____ 8. Has a very relaxed body position while talking to the class.

_____ 9. Smiles at individual students in the class.

_____ 10. Uses a variety of vocal expressions when talking to the class.

* Reversed written items (i.e., high points mean low immediacy).

Results

Table 2 reports the means and standard deviations for the nonverbal immediacy and FL anxiety measures.

Table 2. Means and standard deviations of measures.


Chile

Russia


Measure

M

SD

M

SD

Teacher nonverbal immediacy

58.9

 5.1

51.3

 8.4

Foreign language anxiety

90.4

17.7

83.6

13.6


Analysis of this data indicated that the students from Chile and Russia differed in the degree to which they perceived their teachers to be immediate (t = -5.19; p < .05). That is to say, the Chilean language learners perceived their instructors to be significantly more immediate than did their Russian counterparts.

Significant differences were also found in the analysis of the data concerning FL anxiety (t = -1.87; p < .05). The Chilean students reported suffering greater amounts of anxiety than did the Russian students.

Table 3 reports the correlations between specific perceived instructor nonverbal immediacy behaviors and foreign language classroom anxiety.

Table 3. Correlations between nonverbal immediacy behaviors and FL anxiety.


Behavior

Foreign Language Anxiety

 

Chile

Russia


1. Gestures

.32

-.23

2. Monotone/dull voice*

.22

.07

3. Looks at the class

.33

-.45**

4. Smiles at the class

.06

-.11

5. Tense body position*

-.03

.19

6. Moves around the classroom

.11

-.22

7. Looks at the board or notes*

.22

-.06

8. Relaxed body position

.01

-.23

9. Smiles at individual students

.12

-.14

10. Variety of vocal expressions

-.05

-.10


 
* Reversed written items.
** Correlation is significant at the .05 level

Discussion

The purpose of this study was to investigate whether Chilean and Russian English language learners differed in their perceptions of instructor nonverbal immediacy, and their levels of FL classroom anxiety. Three findings were reported: 1) Russian students who received instruction from Russian instructors perceived a lower level of instructor nonverbal immediacy than Chilean students who received instruction from Chilean instructors; 2) Chilean English language learners reported feeling significantly higher levels of FL anxiety than their Russian counterparts, and 3) Foreign language classroom anxiety is slightly negatively correlated with one particular nonverbal immediacy behavior in the Russian classroom, but none in the Chilean one.  

That Chilean English language learners perceived their teachers as being significantly more nonverbally immediate than the Russian learners would surprise few individuals who are familiar with both cultures. While Chileans represent a highly expressive and immediate Spanish-speaking culture, Russian students tend to represent a low-expressive, non-immediate northern European culture and language community. Teacher-centered instruction is the norm in Russia. The formal relationship between teacher and students is exemplified in the expectation that students demonstrate great respect for their teachers. Students are supposed to contribute to the class discussion or ask questions only upon permission being granted by the teacher, and they may perceive anything less structured or hierarchical as anarchy (Smith, 2000). The Chilean classroom, on the other hand, particularly in light of the new educational reform, is moving toward a much more democratic, group-oriented format. This movement does not, however, preclude a mutually respectful relationship between Chilean teachers and students. In fact, in terms of social relationships and work with students:

“The evidence coincides in indicating that teaching practices have moved towards favoring a closer relationship with students and what they can bring into the teaching-learning process, which is conducive to including more of their life elements and contexts within formal teaching experiences. Students participate more actively now than they did in the past and group work has become a typical feature of Chile’s classrooms: apparently to the point of imbalance with respect to individual work” (Cox, 2005: 9).

Hofstede’s (1984) ideas of Power Distance also come into play here demonstrating that the inequality of interpersonal power is much greater in Russia (score: 92) than Chile (score: 62). That is to say, Russian instructors may be perceived as less immediate because adherence to role and status differences does not lend itself to immediacy behaviors. On the other hand, Chilean instructor-student relationships are characterized as being more equal (though still on the higher end of the international mean), and instructor immediacy may be advanced, expected, and/or heightened by students in the Chilean classroom. Similarly, the difference in perceived immediacy between Chilean and Russian instructors may lie in the fact that little interaction typically occurs between Russian teachers and their students. Therefore, immediacy may not be considered as a necessary instructional tool nor may its use be promoted by Russian instructors.

In considering the differences in the levels of FL anxiety reported by the participants in the study, the dimension of Individualism (Hofstede, 1984) may illuminate why Chilean students reported higher levels of FL anxiety than the Russian students. In terms of Hofstede’s (2003) scale, Chile’s lowest score (21) was on Individualism. That is to say, Chileans are more collectivistic than Russians (with a score of 40), and thus, have a stronger “we” consciousness with one’s identity being based on the social system. (These results may surprise those who are familiar with the political systems of both Chile and Russia, where for decades ending in the late ‘80s, Russia’s political system was dominated by communism which encouraged a collectivistic attitude among its citizens). Indeed, collectivism may result in more importance being placed on the opinion of others, and thus creating an image-consciousness that may not be present in more individualistic cultures. Learners with high scores in FL anxiety agree or strongly agree to statements like, “I feel very self-conscious about speaking the foreign language in front of other students,” and “I am afraid that the other students will laugh at me when I speak the foreign language.” Therefore, one of the connotations of the “Individualism” dimension may be that there will be a tendency for higher FL anxiety in the population.

The last research question inquired about the relationships between perceived nonverbal teacher immediacy and FL anxiety in both the Russian and Chilean English language learner populations. The importance of this question is found in the notion that the specific behaviors that define nonverbal immediacy are likely to vary at least to some degree from culture to culture, and that it is possible that some items that define immediacy effectively for students in the Russian culture may do so less effectively for those from Chile. That is, some items used to define nonverbal immediacy on present measures may be less strongly associated with immediacy than with other issues.

Furthermore, members of every culture hold expectations that differ from culture to culture about the nonverbal behavior of others. It is important to note that data in this study were collected from the students’ perspectives of their own native culture, and that one must acknowledge that learners are scrutinizing and responding to instructor communication behavior according to the norms and expectations of their own cultures. Thus, it is likely that though Russians see their instructors as being less immediate than Chilean students see Chilean teachers, these perceptions might not hold if Chilean students were to judge the immediacy of Russian instructors. Moreover, it may be that certain immediacy behaviors used by Chilean teachers are invisible because culturally, Chilean students see them as merely the normal operation of classroom procedures rather than as examples of the instructor demonstrating approachability.

Results for the final question reveal no significant correlations between specific items indicative of nonverbal teacher immediacy and FL anxiety in the Chilean sample, and only one item (“Looks at the class while talking”) correlated significantly for the Russian students. Interestingly, “looking at the class while talking” is one item that probably would not be among the behaviors that serve to moderate perceptions of distance and status. A teacher who looks at the class while lecturing would not necessarily be making a move from a high status differentiation toward a more egalitarian stance, as opposed to a behavior such as smiling or moving out from behind the podium which could possibly give the illusion of lacking authority. In essence, a teacher can look at the class while talking without losing power distance.

In highly immediate cultures, the expectation of teacher immediacy is so great that violations of that expectation will negatively affect student learning. Conversely, in low-immediacy cultures, teachers who violate expectations by displaying highly immediate behaviors may have strong positive effects on student learning (Johnson & Miller, 2002). Chilean English language learners expect greater amounts of immediacy from their teachers than do the Russian language learners. However, this greater demonstration of approachability seemingly does not affect students’ levels of FL anxiety most probably because it is what is expected. That is to say, in analyzing the results of this study, specific teacher nonverbal indicators that signal immediacy in the English language classroom are not variables that influence FL anxiety.  The source of FL anxiety seems to come from variables other than teacher nonverbal immediacy or the lack thereof.

An important limitation to this study must be noted. Two relatively small groups of learners in specific language learning contexts were examined, which does not make generalizabilty of the findings possible. Furthermore, one group was sampled from a large, metropolitan university, while the other was from a small regional university, which may have added a variable to their responses.

CONCLUSION

The most important implications to be drawn from the results of this study center on the important role that culture plays in the language learning process. Although elements of FL anxiety and nonverbal immediacy were present in both of the cultures examined in this study, their potency and the manner in which they interplayed differed significantly because of the cultural expectations existent in Chile and Russia. Teachers’ cognizance of these cultural expectations will play a role in defining their degrees of effectiveness. In a high immediate culture such as the Chilean, violating students’ expectations of approachable teacher behavior by demonstrating less immediacy would probably result in increased negative affect, whereas in a culture such as the Russian one, where students expect teachers to maintain greater degrees of power distance, an infringement upon this expectation may possibly result in confusion concerning authority roles.

The way in which teachers are trained is another issue affected by the results of this study. More often than not, universities train their language teachers with tunnel vision focused on the culture in which they are being educated, when in all reality, a more global, culturally empathetic approach needs to be explored. More exposure to cultural norms and expectations of non-native culture is needed for language teachers in our more-globalized-every-day world.

REFERENCES

Aida, Y. (1994). Examination of Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope’s construct of foreign language anxiety: The case of students of Japanese, Modern Language Journal, 78, 155-167.        [ Links ]

Andersen, J. (1979). Teacher immediacy as a predictor of teaching effectiveness. In D. Nimmo (Ed.), Communication yearbook 3 (pp. 543-559). New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Books.        [ Links ]

Andersen, J. (1985). Nonverbal immediacy in interpersonal communication. In A. Siegman & S. Feldstein (Eds.), Multichannel integrations of nonverbal behavior (pp. 1-36). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.          [ Links ]

Burgoon, J. & Hale, J. (1988). Nonverbal expectancy violations: Model elaboration and application to immediacy behaviors. Communication Monographs, 55, 58-79.        [ Links ]

Christophel, D. (1990). The relationships among teacher immediacy behaviors, student motivation, and learning. Communication Education, 37, 323-340.        [ Links ]

Cox, C. (Comp.) (2005). Innovation and reform to improve the quality of primary education: Chile. In 2005 Education for all Global Monitoring Report, Chilean Ministry of Education (on line). Retrieved from: http://portal.unesco.org/education/es/file_download.php/ec7f235da0c5f8680a41e705d3f08afcCox.doc        [ Links ]

Elkhafaifi, H. (2005). Listening comprehension and anxiety in the Arabic language classroom. Modern Language Journal, 89, 206-220.        [ Links ]

Ely, C. (1986). An analysis of discomfort, risk-taking, sociability, and motivation in the L2 classroom. Language Learning, 36, 1-25.        [ Links ]

Gardner, R. (1985). Social psychology and second language learning: The role of attitudes and motivation. London: Arnold.        [ Links ]

Gorham, J. (1988). The relationship between verbal teacher immediacy behaviors and student learning. Communication Education, 37, 40-53.        [ Links ]

Gregersen, T. (2003). To err is human: A reminder to teachers of language-anxious students. Foreign Language Annals, 36, 25-32.        [ Links ]

Gregersen, T. (2005). Nonverbal cues: Clues to the detection of foreign language anxiety. Foreign Language Annals, 38, 388-400.        [ Links ]

Gregersen, T. & Horwitz, E. (2002). ‘Language learning and perfectionism: Anxious and non-anxious language learners’ reactions to their own oral performance. The Modern Language Journal, 86, 562-570.        [ Links ]

Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. London: Sage.        [ Links ]

Hofstede, G. (2003). Cultural dimensions [on line]. Retrieved from: http://www.geert-hofstede.com/hofstede        [ Links ]

Horwitz, E., Horwitz, M. & Cope, J. (1991). Foreign language classroom anxiety. In E. Horwitz & D. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 27-36). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.         [ Links ]

Horwitz, E. (1991). Preliminary Evidence for the reliability and validity of a foreign language anxiety scale. In E. Horwitz & D. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 141-150). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.         [ Links ]

Johnson, S. & Miller, A. (2002). A cross-cultural study of immediacy, credibility, and learning in the U.S. and Kenya. Communication Education, 51, 280-292.        [ Links ]

Kitano, K. (2001). Anxiety in the college Japanese language classroom. Modern Language Journal, 85, 549-566.        [ Links ]

MacIntyre, P. & Gardner, R. (1991). Investigating language class anxiety using the focused essay technique. Modern Language Journal, 75, 296-304.        [ Links ]

Madsen, H. Brown, B. & Jones, J. (1991). Oral communication apprehension and Hispanics: An exploration of oral communication apprehension among Mexican American students in Texas. In E. Horwitz & D. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 65-86). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.         [ Links ]

McCroskey, J., Richmond, V., Sallinen, A., Fayer, J. & Barraclough, R. (1995). A cross-cultural and multi-behavioral analysis of the relationship between nonverbal immediacy and teacher evaluation. Communication Education, 44, 281-291.        [ Links ]

McCroskey, J., Fayer, J., Richmond, V., Sallinen, A. & Barraclough, R. (1996). A multi-cultural examination of the relationship between nonverbal immediacy and affective learning. Communication Quarterly, 44(3), 297-307.        [ Links ]

Mehrabian, A. (1971). Silent messages. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.        [ Links ]

Mehrabian, A. (1969). Some referents and measures of nonverbal behavior. Behavioral Research Methods and Instrumentation, 1, 213-217.        [ Links ]

Myers, S., Zhong, M. & Guan, S. (1998). Instructor immediacy in the Chinese college classroom. Communication Studies, 49, 240-254.        [ Links ]

Plax, T., Kearney, P., McCroskey, J. & Richmond, V. (1986). Power in the classroom VI: Verbal control strategies, nonverbal immediacy, and affective learning. Communication Education, 35, 43-55.        [ Links ]

Price, M. (1991). The subjective experience of foreign language anxiety: Interviews with highly anxious students. In E. Horwitz & D. Young (Eds.), Language anxiety: From theory and research to classroom implications (pp. 101-108). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.        [ Links ]

Richmond, V., Gorham, J. & McCroskey, J. (1987). The relationship between immediacy behaviors and cognitive learning. In M. McLaughlin (Ed.), Communication yearbook 10 (pp. 574-590). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.        [ Links ]

Roach, D. & Byrne, P. (2001). A cross-cultural comparison of instructor communication in American and German classrooms. Communication Education, 50, 1-14.        [ Links ]

Rodriguez, M. & Abreu, O. (2003). The stability of foreign language classroom anxiety across English and French. Modern Language Journal, 87, 365-374.        [ Links ]

Saito, Y. & Samimy, K. (1996). Foreign language anxiety and language performance: A study of learning anxiety in beginning, intermediate, and advanced-level college students of Japanese. Foreign Language Annals, 29, 239-251.        [ Links ]

Smith, I. (2000). Culture clash in the English as a second language classroom: Russian students in America. The CATESOL Journal, 12, 93-116.        [ Links ]

Dirección para correspondencia
Tammy Gregersen (tammy.gregersen@uni.edu). Tel.: (319) 273-2729. Fax:  273-5807. Facultad  de Idioma Inglés y Literatura, Universidad del Norte de Iowa. Baker 214, Cedar Falls, IA  50613. Iowa, Estados Unidos de Norteamérica.

Recibido: 21-XII-2005 Aceptado: 20-IV-2006

APPENDIX

Appendix A:  Foreign language classroom anxiety scale (Horwitz, Horwitz & Cope, 1986)

Instructions: Please circle the answer that best describes your thoughts/feelings

SA=            Strongly Agree

A  =            Agree

N  =            Neither Agree nor Disagree

D  =            Disagree

SD=            Strongly Disagree

1.          I never feel quite sure of myself when I am speaking in my foreign language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

2.          I don’t worry about making mistakes in language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

3.          I tremble when I know that I’m going to be called on in language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

4.          It frightens me when I don’t understand what the teacher is saying in the foreign language.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

5.          It wouldn’t bother me at all to take more foreign language classes.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

6.          During language class, I find myself thinking about things that have nothing to do with the course

             SA              A             N             D             SD

7.          I keep thinking that the other students are better at languages than me.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

8.          I am usually at ease during tests in my language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

9.          I start to panic when I have to speak without preparation in language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

10.        I worry about the consequences of failing my foreign language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

11.        I don’t understand why some people get so upset over foreign language classes.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

12.        In language class, I can get so nervous I forget things I know.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

13.        It embarrasses me to volunteer answers in my language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

14.        I would not be nervous speaking the foreign language with native speakers.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

15.        I get upset when I don’t understand what the teacher is correcting.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

16.        Even if I am well prepared for language class, I feel anxious about it.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

17.        I often feel like not going to my language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

18.        I feel confident when I speak in foreign language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

19.        I am afraid that my language teacher is ready to correct every mistake I make.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

20.        I can feel my heart pounding when I’m going to be called on in language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

21.        The more I study for a language test, the more confused I get.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

22.        I don’t feel pressure to prepare very well for language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

23.        I always feel that the other students speak the foreign language better than I do.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

24.        I feel very self-conscious about speaking the foreign language in front of other students.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

25.        Language class moves so quickly I worry about getting left behind.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

26.        I feel more tense and nervous in my language class than in my other classes.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

27.        I get nervous and confused when I am speaking in my language class.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

28.        When I’m on my way to language class, I feel very sure and relaxed.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

29.        I get nervous when I don’t understand every word the language teacher says.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

30.        I feel overwhelmed by the number of rules you have to learn to speak a foreign language.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

31.        I am afraid that the other students will laugh at me when I speak the foreign language.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

32.        I would probably feel comfortable around native speakers of the foreign language

             SA              A             N             D             SD

33.        I get nervous when the language teacher asks questions which I haven’t prepared in advance.

             SA              A             N             D             SD

Appendix B: Nonverbal teacher immediacy scale (adapted from McCroskey, Fayer, Richmond, Sallinen & Barraclough, 1996)

Initials:

Age:

Gender:

DIRECTIONS: Below are a series of descriptions of things some teachers have been observed doing in some classes. Please respond to the questions in terms of the class you are in. For each item, circle the number 0 – 4 which indicates the behavior of the teacher in this class.

0 = Never; 1 = Rarely; 2 = Occasionally; 3 = Often; 4 = Very Often

1.             _____ Sits behind desk while teaching.

2.             _____ Gestures while talking to the class.

3.             _____ Uses monotone/dull voice when talking to the class.

4.             _____ Looks at the class while talking.

5.             _____ Smiles at the class while talking.

6.             _____ Has a very tense body position while talking to the class.

7.             _____ Touches students in the class.

8.             _____ Moves around the classroom while teaching.

9.             _____ Sits on a desk or in a chair while teaching.

10.           _____ Looks at board or notes while talking to the class.

11.           _____ Stands behind podium or desk while teaching.

12.           _____ Has a very relaxed body position while talking to the class.

13.           _____ Smiles at individual students in the class.

14.           _____ Uses a variety of vocal expression when talking to the class.

 

Creative Commons License Todo el contenido de esta revista, excepto dónde está identificado, está bajo una Licencia Creative Commons