E’Louise Botes, Jean-Marc Dewaele, Samuel Greiff
September 12, 2020
The study examines whether already knowing several languages and feeling proficient in a new foreign language (FL) has an effect on positive and negative emotions during the learning. The emergence of positive psychology in language acquisition studies has led to the examination of positive emotions in the FL learning process, such as Foreign Language Enjoyment (FLE). FLE is a positive emotional state where psychological needs are met and was introduced as the positive emotion counterpart to the oft studied negative emotion, Foreign Language Anxiety (FLA). A international sample of 1622 FL learners were analysed utilising multivariate tests of variance, examining the level of multilingualism and the level of self-perceived FL proficiency as independent variables, with FLE and FLA as dependent variables. Results indicated a very small, but statistically significant interaction effect between the level of multilingualism and self-perceived FL proficiency on the FLA of the language learner, but not on FLE. In addition, higher levels of multilingualism were associated with higher levels of enjoyment and lower levels of anxiety in FL learners. In turn, more self-perceived proficient FL learners indicated higher levels of enjoyment and lower levels of anxiety. Although effect sizes were in some cases very small, the results do indicate the benefits multilinguals and higher proficiency FL learners have when learning a FL.