A Different Kind of Tension: Foreign Language Anxiety from a Positive Psychology Perspective

Aya Hayasaki, Stephen Ryan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study investigates anxiety in foreign language learning from a positive psychology perspective, and in doing so, it considers some of the ways in which anxiety can interact with other aspects of language learner psychology to contribute to improved learning outcomes and improved learner well-being. The paper reports on a small-scale mixed-method study of English learners at a university in northern Japan. It shows how for many learners some of the most anxiety-provoking episodes were also the most rewarding and enjoyable, suggesting a need to reconsider simplistic accounts that present anxiety as an impediment to successful language learning. This is done by shifting to a positive psychology perspective. The paper concludes with a tentative model of how anxiety, when reframed as tension, can function as a core component of a more productive language learning experience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-31
Number of pages15
JournalChinese Journal of Applied Linguistics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Feb 1


  • anxiety
  • engagement
  • enjoyment
  • positive psychology
  • relationships
  • social comparisons
  • tension

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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