Individual and cultural factors affecting students' anxiety during language study abroad

Date of Award


Degree Name

M.A. in Communication


Department of Communication


Advisor: Teresa L. Thompson


Submersing oneself in a foreign culture for an extended amount of time is a complex process, and students who study abroad experience varying degrees of anxiety while doing so. The present study uses Anxiety/Uncertainty Management Theory and Communication Accommodation Theory to identify certain factors related to this anxiety. Quantitative data in Phase One measured students' uses of idiomatic expressions in the homestay, ability to tolerate ambiguity, time spent with the host family and proficiency levels to find them all significantly related to anxiety at moderate levels. Phase Two expanded to look at cultural factors associated with anxiety. Students from individualistic cultures experienced significantly lower levels of anxiety while studying a second language in a classroom than students who identify as more collectivistic. Finally, as more time passed, individualistic students displayed higher frequencies of upward convergence behaviors toward individuals from the collectivistic culture.


Second language acquisition Psychological aspects, Language and culture, Language and languages Study and teaching

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Copyright © 2009, author