1.2 STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) students need to use English extensively for academic purposes. Most of the reference books and academic books are in English and some of the subjects are taught in English, as well. Besides that, English is also used as the medium of instruction in class and it requires the students to be proficient in the English language, which is also their second language. Apart from that, English Language is one of the components listed in UiTM’s University Courses for Bachelor’s (Honours) Degree Programme , in which they need to complete within the first three semesters of the Programme of Study in order to graduate. In reference to the curriculum for English language courses offered in UiTM, students are expected to require all four language skills which are listening, speaking, writing and reading skills in both social context and academic context.
Furthermore, language activities such as oral presentation, role-plays and group discussions would require the students to perform in front of the class and students are assessed in terms of their communicative ability. Prior to that, students tend to experience anxiety in English language learning, especially when it comes to speaking and therefore, it is crucial to examine their speaking anxiety.Despite being taught and having learned the language English for 11 years in school, students still have difficulty in using the language effectively.
Most of the students have problem in speaking English, especially in the class that requires them to fully communicate in English. It can be more stressful when they are expected to speak and communicate only in English during oral presentation. This was evident in the study carried out by Fung and Min (2016) which shows most of the learners (66.6%) often experience the feeling of anxiety and uncomfortable especially during oral presentation in front of the class. According to Young (1990 as cited in Öztürk and Gürbüz, 2014), speaking activities requiring in front of class and on spot performance produce the most anxiety from the students’ perspective; learners experience more anxiety over speaking than other language skills.
Due to their speaking anxiety, they tend to show poor speaking performance as they only depend on memorising written scripts and once their anxiety is triggered, they forget everything that they have written and memorised.A student who believes that one must never say anything in English until it can be said correctly will probably avoid speaking most of the time. A study by Price (1991 as cited in Öztürk and Gürbüz, 2014) found that speaking in front of their peers can trigger the students’ anxiety because they were worried that they would mispronounce some words and they were afraid that they would be laughed at for their mistake. Next, according to Chen (2015), speaking in front of other people is actually the cause of the second language learners’ speaking anxiety. This is because they feel that they have not reached the proficiency level of the native speakers. Various studies have been done on language anxiety but there appears to be limited research on the area of speaking anxiety (Zgutowicz, 2009).
In reaction to what past researchers have examined on the issue of speaking anxiety, this current study seeks to investigate the speaking anxiety among UiTM Puncak Alam’s students.