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The Anxious Language Learner: A Saudi Woman’s Story Book Review

Review by Mira Khatib


I do admit I am not one that indulges in self-help books, but when Dr. Taghreed Al Saraj author of The Anxious Language Learner: A Saudi Woman’s Story, introduced me to her book my curiosity got the best of me, and I was intrigued to learn more about language anxiety.

When I started reading The Anxious Language Learner, I thought to myself, “Will this be another long, detailed book with lots of difficult academic words to even understand?” However I was pleasantly surprised, as I began reading I found myself flipping through its pages with such captivation as Dr. Taghreed’s writing style is one of simplicity yet very informative. I felt as if I was reading a story not just a book about language learning and anxiety.

Although in her book Dr. Taghreed is more focused on her home land Saudi Arabia and how language learning and anxiety play a role with students there, yet I found her example case studies showcasing many other Arab countries and students elsewhere. What was more amazing is that Dr. Taghreed used herself as a case study by learning the Turkish language and struggling with her own foreign language learning anxiety and how she put her own expertise to the test.

It was an eye opener to learn about language anxiety and how it affects students. Dr. Saraj describes foreign language learning anxiety symptoms (FLA) that might go unnoticed or misinterpreted as other ailments. She also goes through self-help steps for students that suffer with FLA and guide them on overcoming their anxiety. Another significant chapter to mention is Dr. Saraj’s advice to teachers and how to notice FLA symptoms and how to deal with students that suffer from it. She also developed a questionnaire at the end of the book for language learners to take and become aware of their anxiety levels when it comes to language learning.

She put language learning in a new light, showing its advantages, misconceptions and beauty and one’s ability to learning not one or two but many foreign languages with the right tools and knowledge.

A highly recommended read indeed!


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