First Advisor

Nike Arnold

Date of Publication

Winter 3-6-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages


Applied Linguistics




Sexual minorities, Second language acquisition -- Psychological aspects -- Case studies, Anxiety, College students



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 179 pages)


The relationship between foreign language anxiety and gender identity has been largely a quantitative endeavor that has shown contradictory results. Furthermore, sexual identity has not been researched in foreign language anxiety literature. A qualitative account of LGBTQ+ language learners with different gender identities has been absent from the literature. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between foreign language anxiety and sexual and gender identity. To gain insight into this relationship, this qualitative study investigated the lived experiences of four LGBTQ+ foreign language university students who represented three gender identities. Data were collected through multiple, in-depth interviews, observations, the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS, Horwitz et al., 1986), and a questionnaire. The four participants were further situated through the results of the FLCAS, which was distributed to the research site and garnered 141 responses. Presentation of the data includes portraits of two of the participants and a cross-case analysis of the four participants. The portraits provided rich, thick descriptions of the educational and historical backgrounds of the two learners as well as themes related to their individual anxiety levels. The cross-case analysis found that foreign language anxiety across participants related to invalidated identity, privileged identities, context, and trait anxiety. These themes largely caused participants to experience communication apprehension, possible cognitive interference, avoidance behavior, and a lack of willingness to communicate. This study offers pedagogical implications and suggestions for further research. The data show that language teachers need to be aware of the pervasive nature of foreign language anxiety and how the identities of LGBTQ+ students can play into foreign language anxiety. Furthermore, teachers need to affirm the identities of their students.


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