Learning a language can induce anxiety among students. In addition, students can feel anxious when it comes to being tested on their language skills. Studies of goal attainment among health patients, students, and others have shown that self regulation through the model of Mental Contrasting with Implementation Intentions (MCII) can help participants reach their goals. In the current study, we sought to determine whether MCII could help learners better cope with anxiety when being orally examined in a second language. Specifically, we examined whether practicing MCII would lead to reductions in language test taking anxiety over time. We compared the levels of test anxiety in students before and after a six-week period where one group was taught MCII and another was not. MCII participants were instructed on MCII in weekly sessions and encouraged to apply it in testing and other situations in their daily lives. Both the MCII group and the control group were given speaking tests at the beginning and end of the six weeks, and anxiety levels were tested at each of these speaking tests. Anxiety was measured using two methods: a self-assessment, the Foreign Language Anxiety Scale, and a physiological measure of anxiety, saliva cortisol level. All students were interviewed by a trained speaking rater, and their cortisol levels were tested before and after the testing experiences at the beginning and end of the study period. We compared anxiety levels for the treatment (MCII) and control groups. Results showed that cortisol levels among treatment and control groups did not have a significant difference. However, the experiment group that had received MCII treatment reported lower levels of anxiety than the control. This suggests that MCII can lower the level of test anxiety perceived by students.



College and Department

Humanities; Linguistics and English Language



Date Submitted


Document Type





mental contrasting, test anxiety, second language learning