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PHD - Doctor of Philosophy




Most colleges require students to take at least one foreign language course in order to graduate. Some students tend to put this requirement off to the end of their program due to language learning anxiety, and attrition rates in these courses are high. This study asks the following question: How do emerging adult students in an entry-level college Hebrew class describe their experience? Do factors such as awareness of peers and languagelearning anxiety affect their self-reported learning experience? The findings are important to the field of language learning because there are no studies available that specifically evaluate the experience of emerging adults in an entry-level college Hebrew classroom. It is also significant because it adds to both the fields of language-learning anxiety and emerging adulthood. In this qualitative study, the following seven instruments were emailed to the participants: a demographic survey, initial interview, a published anxiety scale, two reflection questionnaires, a second application of the anxiety scale at the end of the semester, and a follow-up interview. This research revealed that language-learning anxiety actually increased during the semester despite the overall positive experience reported by the participants. This anxiety was experienced by both heritage (students with prior experience with the language) and non-heritage learners (students with no prior language experience), but it was not considered debilitative. Additionally, the presence of both heritage and non-heritage learners in the same classroom was considered a positive factor and students benefited from working together in small groups. Lastly, the anxiety scale results did not correlate well with anxiety levels reported by the participants. The language-learning anxiety noted in this study may have been related to the emerging adulthood developmental stage of the participants. This study concludes it is possible that a measure of low-level anxiety is facilitative and is in fact important for the process of language learning to occur. Recommendations were made for language programs, Hebrew teachers, and for future studies. The findings of this study will assist language educators to better understand the role of language learning anxiety in the learning process as well as provide new insight into the stage of emerging adulthood.



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