DOI: 10.1075/tblt.16.02anh ISSN: 1877-346X

Chapter 2. Anxiety in task-based language teaching

Hyejin An, Shaofeng Li

This chapter provides a comprehensive review of the methods and findings of the research examining anxiety in learners’ task performance and language development. Based on a thorough search of multiple databases and a set of selection criteria, 35 studies were included in the review. The investigation of the methodological designs shows that most studies examined adult, L2 English, and intermediate learners; adopted a within-subjects design; used dialogic tasks; and measured L2 anxiety by means of the FLCAS. The studies examined the role of anxiety in TBLT from four perspectives: (1) the role of anxiety in task-based corrective feedback, (2) the influence of L2 anxiety on task performance in simple and complex tasks, (3) the associations between anxiety and task engagement, and (4) the impact of task modality on the level of L2 anxiety. Corresponding to the four perspectives, the following findings are obtained. First, high-anxiety learners tend to benefit more from implicit than explicit feedback and prefer to receive implicit feedback, and the amount of anxiety caused by feedback can be mitigated by positive delivery of feedback. Second, the role of anxiety is more evident in complex tasks than simple tasks, and less anxious learners benefit more from complex tasks while more anxious learners benefit more from simple tasks. Third, more anxious learners show less task engagement. Fourth, computer-mediated communication causes less anxiety than face-to-face communication, with the caveat that anxiety about new technology may increase anxiety.