As English is becoming more dominant as a world language, many higher education institutions use it as a medium of instruction in their educational programs (Parker, 2010). In Thailand, the number of government universities which provide international PhD programs has been increasing (Wiriyachitra, 2002). Postgraduate students studying in international programs in Thai universities are required to write assignments, research papers, and dissertations and to make presentations in English. For example, at King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), postgraduate students of Applied Linguistics must have at least one publication in an international peer reviewed journal as one of the graduation requirements (School of Liberal Arts, King Mongkut’s University of Technology Thonburi, 2008). The challenge of writing in English may cause anxiety which is hypothesized to result in poor-quality written tasks. Therefore, it is very important to study the causes of anxiety as perceived by EFL learners and investigate how to help them cope with anxiety.
Writing anxiety can be defined as “a fear of the writing process that outweighs the projected gain from the ability to write” (Thompson, 1980, p. 121). The productive skills, such as speaking and writing, generate anxiety higher than the other language skills (Aydin, 2008; Tsui, 1996). Prior studies on writing anxiety over the last two decades have been centered on ESL learners, whereas there has been little information available on how EFL learners perceive anxiety about writing in academic contexts (Aydin, 2008; Atay & Kurt, 2006; Mat Daud, Mat Daud, & Abu Kassim, 2005). In Thailand, English writing skills are very important for postgraduate students because they are required to be published in scholarly publications. Research into problems encountered by non-native students of English writing research papers has highlighted four broad areas of concern: 1) little awareness of the audience/reader; 2) the amount of time needed for writing; 3) lack of ability in making claims and writing arguments; and 4) being concerned with vocabulary, structure, and writing style (Cheung, 2010; Flowerdew, 1999: Gebhard, 1996).
Writing anxiety, as shown in Table 1, can be assessed by using two types of questionnaires: Writing Apprehension Test (WAT) and Second Language Writing Anxiety Inventory (SLWAI). The former was proposed by Daly and Miller (1975) to measure writing anxiety of ESL learners. However, this test was originally developed with reference to first language learners (Atay & Kurt, 2006; Cheng 2004; Erkan & Saban, 2011). The latter was developed by Cheng (2004) and has been widely used to estimate the degree of writing anxiety perceived by ESL and EFL learners. Many research studies on writing anxiety report that SLWAI has good internal consistency (Atay & Kurt, 2006; Cheng, 2004; Erkan & Saban, 201; Öztürk & ÇeÇen, 2007). The SLWAI was therefore chosen for...