Group discussions, if properly harnessed, can help learners to own the learning process, communicate their thoughts, feelings, ideas or information freely and efficiently in their environment. Group discussions can also provide opportunities for self-learning, rather than having learners to sit passively to memorize and repeat what the teacher gives them. In the twenty-first century, teachers need to focus on empowering learners to create, interpret, legitimize and disseminate knowledge. Therefore, this paper examines the influence of speaking anxiety on the effectiveness of group discussion as a learning strategy in Kiswahili language classrooms. The theoretical framework of the study that informed this paper was drawn from the Communicative Language Theory (CLT). The study involved a sample of 21 public secondary schools purposively sampled from a total of 206 public secondary schools in Bungoma County, Kenya. Three hundred and seventy-eight Form Two learners formed the study sample. The study adopted a correlation study design and used students’ questionnaire and a semi-structured interview schedule for data collection. Analysed data was presented using frequencies percentages and histograms. The research findings revealed that there is a significant relationship between speaking anxiety and effectiveness of group discussion as a learning strategy. Subsequently, this paper recommends that teachers of Kiswahili should focus on reducing the levels of speaking anxiety among learners in Kiswahili language classrooms. This strategy will improve their participation in group discussions. They should also increase the use of group discussions to help reduce the levels of anxiety because group discussions cannot be conducted successfully with students who have high levels of social anxiety.
Keywords: Group Discussion, Kiswahili language, Second Language, Speaking Anxiety
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