This thesis investigates perceptions of ESL anxiety articulated by educated professional Iranian women upon their immigration to Canada. I applied qualitative research methods to gather and analyse these women’s articulations of interacting in English as one of their means of social communication. I explored different factors influencing ESL anxiety from the participants’ perspectives as opposed to my interpretation of this phenomenon. Previous research over the last 30 years in second language acquisition has confirmed that attention to affect enhances language learning. Most research on ESL anxiety has investigated learners in second language classrooms. These studies have involved learners from western and non-western languages such as French, German, Spanish, English, Japanese, Chinese, Russian and Arabic. This study examines learners’ experiences not only in classrooms but also in their families and communities, and examines the ESL anxiety experiences of Iranian women, a group that has not previously been studied. I am interested in how we might understand those experiences from physiological, psychological and philosophical viewpoints. I applied insights from physiology, psychology and existential philosophy to understand the phenomenon of ESL anxiety. I conclude that major tasks of ESL anxiety research are to establish interdisciplinary connections and to provide more evidence-based ground for educational research in this field.
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