Exploring Relations between Korean Test Takers' Anxiety and Performance on the Test of English for International Communication in Listening and Reading Comprehension (TOEIC LR)
Test anxiety and foreign language anxiety can affect test takers’ performance on a high-stakes foreign language proficiency test, such as the Test of English for International Communication in Listening and Reading comprehension (TOEIC LR). As the TOEIC LR is most widely used in South Korea (henceforth, Korea), that country presents a meaningful research context to examine this test. However, despite the TOEIC LR’s widespread use, no previous studies have directly examined the relationships between test takers’ anxiety and their performance on this test. Therefore, the present study investigated the extent to which test anxiety and foreign language anxiety influenced Korean test takers’ performance on the TOEIC LR. Data were collected from 226 Korean test takers who were university students or graduates in need of TOEIC scores for high-stakes decisions, including graduation and/or employment. Participants completed a questionnaire asking for demographic information and levels of cognitive test anxiety, foreign language reading anxiety, and foreign language listening anxiety. Additionally, they provided their TOEIC scores. Correlational analyses, MANOVA, and multiple regression analyses were conducted to answer the proposed research questions. The two foreign language anxieties formed greater correlations with each other than either did with cognitive test anxiety, suggesting conceptual overlap between the domains of these foreign language anxieties. In terms of predicting language test scores, foreign language anxieties specific to language skills were more effective than cognitive test anxiety. The influence of cognitive test anxiety on TOEIC scores was insignificant when foreign language anxieties were included in the regression model. This study contributes to a finer understanding of the relationship between test anxiety and foreign language anxiety in the Korean context by including all three of the anxiety constructs into a single investigation. Furthermore, this study sheds light on the extent to which Korean test takers’ test anxiety and foreign language anxiety affect their performance on a high-stakes English proficiency test. Based on these findings, future research should discuss whether or not test takers’ anxiety should be included in test validation and investigate the extent to which test takers’ anxiety threatens validity of test score interpretations as possible sources of construct-irrelevant variance.
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