A few anxiety studies have indicated that certain socio-cultural factors, among other factors, could be responsible for students’ foreign language speaking anxiety (e.g. Lo, 2017; Yan &Horwitz, 2008). For example, Yan and Horwitz (2008) concluded that future studies should “direct clear attention to the sociocultural factors associated with language learning.” (p.175). A careful review of language anxiety research reveals that the majority of studies in this field have associated language anxiety with factors such as linguistics-related, classroom-related, teacher-related and student-related. Very little attention has been paid to date in relation to students’ immediate socio-cultural contexts. In particular, to the best of my knowledge, no study in Pakistan has examined these factors in relation to anxiety. This study attempts to fill this gap by investigating the perspectives of Pakistani EFL university students about socio-cultural factors that could cause their speaking anxiety (SA). Semi-structured Interviews were utilised as a data collection tool. The data were collected from five university departments, each in a different public sector university in Pakistan. The sample comprised 20 postgraduate non-English major Pakistani male and female students, four from each university. The data were analysed through exploratory content analysis. The data reveal a number of sociocultural-related sources of SA including students’ geographic background, students’ pre-university English education, the role of students’ parents, social and cultural trends, cultural alienation, and mixed-gender classrooms. It appears that these sources of SA have not been previously reported upon in the literature. Therefore, this study may serve as an index for future writers. This study contributes to the existing knowledge by suggesting that language anxiety can be investigated beyond the cognitive and psychological dimensions. Finally, implications and suggestions for further studies are offered.
language learning, speaking anxiety (SA), socio-cultural factors
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