Exploring Students’ Anxiety towards The English Language


1.1 Background of The Study

Mastering English has been a demand in the recent global era. Proficiency in both, oral and written English has become a necessity and it can be achieved through many ways, including through formal and informal education. In Indonesia, English has been taught to students since elementary school up to high school level. Even at the college or university level, students still learn English in their early semesters. It is aimed to improve the students’ English skills, even though they are not majoring in English. 

University, as one of the high institutions, has an important role to improve students in mastering some foreign languages. One method used in teaching English is by using English as medium in the teaching and learning process, so that the students will learn certain materials by using English. This method is also known as the bilingual teaching.

Teaching and learning using English is not as easy as using the mother tongue. There are several factors affecting this process. One of affecting factors is the psychological aspect of the students themselves. One of the prominent psychological factors is anxiety in using English personally, the surrounding circumstances and in certain situations in teaching and learning activities. The understanding of anxiety is described by Spielberger (1983) in Horwitz, Horwitz& Cope (1986) by stating that“anxiety is the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of the automatic nervous system". The anxiety often appears in learning foreign languages or second language, because it is considered difficult. This anxious feeling rises before and during the learning activities and it causes several behavioral tendencies while learning a foreign language. In brief, anxiety is nervousness experienced by students in the learning process of foreign language individually. Therefore, anxiety includes several aspects, such as fear, apprehension, shyness, anger, worry, belief, tension and confidence. The branches of anxiety above are taken from the Horwitz, Horwtiz and Cope Journal in 1986 on Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Shale (FLCAS) that is used in measuring the level of students’ anxiety in learning foreign language.  If students bear one or more aspect of anxiety, they are considered to experience anxiety.

The anxiety associated with learning English activities is called "foreign language anxiety". Students who learn a second or foreign language often experience anxiety including the academic anxiety in a higher level. Besides, one of the most consistent findings shows that higher levels of language anxiety are associated with lower level of language achievement (Dewaele, 2007; Gadner&Maclntyre, 1993; Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986; Maclntyre& Gardner, 1991, in Maclntyre&Gregersen, 2012: 118). Therefore, students who are more anxious tend to get lower course grades. Then, learning activities with the foreign language as the medium is called "foreign language class anxiety". Therefore, anxiety affects the student’s competencies, student with anxious experience is likely to have worse competence, and it will hamper students to communicate and advance in language learning. Anxiety occurs to the students with lower levels of competence, whereas students with a good competence tend to show better performance. 

To find out the problems in bilingual English activities, the researcher has conducted preliminary study. Based on the preliminary study, it shows the bilingual English class activities and the regular class as well. The activities are presentation and monologue methods. In the presentation method, the students present the material before the class in a group, followed by a discussion section between the presenters and other students, and it is controlled by the lecturer. On the other side, the monologue method allows a lecturer to explain the material, then student will ask some question related to the material they have not understood well. It is followed by the question and answer section between the lecturer and the students regarding the discussed material. All the activities mentioned earlier are done mostly in English, but when the explanation are stuck or unclear, the lecturer and the students are allowed to use Indonesian.

Sekolah Tinggi Agama Islam Negeri (STAIN), State College on Islamic Study Purwokerto is one of the colleges that currently have a bilingual program. In the bilingual teaching activities, STAIN teaches two international languages in several subjects, it is English and Arabic. Therefore, the lecturers teach course materials to students with Arabic or English. The purposes of bilingual class implemented by several universities like STAIN have tried to produce good graduates who have good proficiency in English and Arabic language competence. In the following few years, STAIN will do students exchange with foreign universities. In addition, students are required to write their thesis and do comprehensive tests in English or Arabic. Therefore, the attempts to produce students who have good language competence have been conducted by STAIN.

STAIN already established bilingual classes since 2011. Since two years ago, STAIN has 3 classes that focus on teaching two languages. They are: Jurusan Pendidikan Agama Islam (PAI), Islamic Education Program; Jurusan Pendidikan Bahasa Arab (PBA), Arabic Education Program and Jurusan Ekonomi Islam (EI), Islamic Economy Program. The students have to choose one or two classes of those three classes to get bilingual class learning process. 

Object in this study is the second semester students of academic year 2013/2014. The reason why the researcher chooses the object is because they get treatments in bilingual activities for the first time. Beside,they are not familiar with the bilingual classroom activities compared to their seniors. Thus, it is possible that they will be more anxious in bilingual classes rather than the upper students. In addition, the researcher focuses on 1 PAI and 1 EI programs which have English class. The 1 PAI program has two English classes and EI program has one English class. Whereas, the PBA program has done Arabic and English simultaneously, so that it does not fill the requirements to be object of this research. Therefore, total number of sampling objects is 85 students. 

Presentation method generally used in teaching and learning activities at STAIN, thus the students must think twice regarding the course materials and about the language they use to deliver the materials. As the result, some students cannot understand and catch up the material well. In presentation process most students still read the paper and don’t speak freely. In discussion section some of students tend to be quiet and inactive; they do not give any response or feedback. In addition, they feel less successful and may experience extensive nervousness while speaking before their friends. Others students become so anxious that they begin to sweat. However some students succeed and can understand the course properly.

Some of the problems experienced by students with regards to the anxiety factors in teaching learning activities by using English are as follows: 1) Lack confidence when speaking in class. 2) Tension and nervousness when going on the call by lecturers. 3) Apprehension if cannot understand the material presented by the lecturer and their friends. 4) Inferiority complex, it is when the students feel that the other students better than them. 5) Students feel the tension when speaking without preparation. 6) Fear of failure in following the classes. 7) Students assume the other students feel nervous. 8) Students are nervous, so they forget the materials. 9). Embarrassed to answer questions voluntarily. 10) Although they have already been well-prepared, students still worried. 11) Fear of being corrected by the lecturer. 12) Students are afraid of being left behind by the class advance. 13) The class atmosphere becomes tenser than regular classes. 14) Nervous and confused when talking. 18). Students are afraid if the other students laugh at their mistakes. 19). Students get nervous when answering questions without preparation. Besides, students feel tense while speaking, afraid of making some mistakes, fear of being corrected by teachers and even being laughed by other students because of their way in using English. Therefore, the students’ anxiety will affect their achievement in mastering foreign language, especially English.

This study will provide further analysis with regard to the reasons why they feel anxious during teaching and learning activities which use English interaction in their lesson. In addition, it is aimed to find out what the factors causing anxieties in language learning process are. Thus, it will present some solutions to overcome the anxiety of lecturers. Briefly, it will be able to provide suggestion to the lecturers, the students and the university regarding how to reduce English learning anxiety.

1.2 Research Questions

The problems of the research can be stated below:
  1. What are influencing factors contributing of the second semester students’ bilingual English classroom anxiety of Islamic Education and Islamic economy program?
  2. How do lecturers motivate to decrease of the second semester students’ bilingual English classroom anxiety of Islamic Education and Islamic Economy Program?

1.3 Research Objectives

Based on the research questions, the purposes of the research are: 
  1. To describe the influencing factors of the second semester students’ bilingual English anxiety of Islamic Education and Islamic Economy Program.
  2. To find out lectures strategy to reduce of the second semester students’ bilingual English classroom anxiety of Islamic Education and Islamic Economy Program.

1.4 Research Significances

The significant of this research can be seen from three aspects as follows: 

1. For lecturers
Lecturers can find out some information about the factors that influence students' anxiety in bilingual English classroom activities. Thus, lecture will know how to reduce students’ anxiety during the teaching and learning process.

2. For students
The results of this study can be used as a reflection for students when they have done bilingual English classroom activities, so they can know their English classtoom anxiety. Finally, students can overcome the problem and encourage them to learn English better because their anxiety was reduced.

3. For the researcher
Researchers believe that the results of this research will be able to contribute to the knowledge and actions that will be performed by lecturers and students in reducing of students' anxiety in teaching and learning take place. Therefore, English interaction between students and lecturers will run well after students’ anxiety was reduced because students are able to reflect themselves through exposure in this study.

The explanation of the literature review to support this research will describe as follows:

2.1 The Nature of Language Learning

Learning a language is as well as learning to communicate, so that in learning a language learner should be able to communicate both oral and written. Then, the learners are expected to master the “language skills”. They are listening, speaking, reading and writing (Widdowson, 1978: 57). Therefore, a student will be able to communicate meaningfully and naturally. Learning a language means learning all language aspects in one unit, so it requires continuous and regular practice or rehearsal, especially if the language which is studied is a second language or foreign language.
By the statement above, English is one of foreign language in Indonesia that has to be learned by students since elementary grade to university. They have tried to master English both oral and written. Therefore, the expectations for students are mastering four English skills; they are reading, writing, listening and speaking at the end of study. 

2.2 Anxiety

"Anxiety is the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension, nervousness, and worry associated with an arousal of the automatic nervous system" (Horwitz, 2001: 113). The definitions of anxiety that have been proposed by several scholars have some common characteristics: the state of apprehension, fear, tension and feelings of uneasiness (Brown, 1994; Horwitz et al., 1991; Scovel, 1991, cited in Tasee, 2009). Therefore, anxiety is students’ feeling that occurs naturally; such as apprehension, nervousness, and fear

In language learning, Tasee (2009) defined anxiety as the consideration of psychological aspects; it refers to the uncomfortable feeling of language learners resulting in their learning outcome or achievement. There are numerous sources of anxiety: teacher, examinations, peers, social relations, achievement setting, what girls think of boys, what boys think of girls, like or dislike of subjects, and distance from home for younger students (Elliott, et al., 2000: 345). Anxiety may appear in language learning because of a lot of factors. Moreover, it is related to the student achievement in mastering language and doing classroom activities that involve lecturer, students and classroom circumstance.

According to the above statement, students’ anxiety is subjective feeling. Their anxiety are: apprehension, nervousness, fear and tension. While, other factors that cause anxiety are: other students, teachers and a certain classroom activitesin learning a second language or a foreign language.

2.3 Types of Anxiety

Anxiety is strongly influenced by students’ psychology. Thus, each person has different anxiety levels. In general, anxiety can be divided into three types; they are:

1. Trait anxiety

Trait anxiety is an anxiety that comes from each personal character. Brown (1994) in Tasee (2009) said that a person will often feel anxious in almost every situation. Therefore, it is also described as an individual's anxiety and it affects people's memory and other cognitive features, so it is a negative personal traits.

Based on above statement, each student has different anxiety levels, a students might tend to be more anxious than other students in class, subjects and lecturers alike. It is related to personal traits, confidence, background and English competence. If a student has low competence, they would be more anxious. 

2. State anxiety

State anxiety is apprehension experienced at a particular moment in time (Katalin, 2006). It occurs when someone was in a certain condition, hence the anxiety is not permanent or it is fluctuating with regard to the conditions where it is located. If there is a stimulus towards individual, the effect will expire after the stimulus no longer exist (Young, 1991). In terms of social effects, there are many social contexts that can influence language anxiety; such as the condition of a competitive classroom atmosphere, difficult interactions with teachers, or risk of embarrassment, and the opportunity for making a contact with members of the language group (MacIntyre, 1999, cited in Tasee, 2009). Moreover, anxity that appears in this field is not permanent. It rises when the students are in a certain situation, for example when they speak in the class, answering questions, and so on.

3. Situation-specific anxiety

Situation-specific anxiety is the anxiety experienced in a well-defined situation (MacIntyre& Gardner, 1991a cited in Katalin, 2006). It happens to the students in a particular situation, especially when a student repeatedly experience state or intentional anxiety within a state. For instance, a second language learner when he had to learn English in a classroom (Zuhana &Shameem, 2010, cited in Heng, Abdullah & Yusuf, n.d). 

In addtion, all students have to take a role in English class. Generally the situation will be tenser than regular class because they have to do interaction in English. Therefore situation-specific anxiety would happen as long as they learn there until graduate. 

2.4 Foreign Language Anxiety

Foreign language anxiety is known that some people have an anxiety reaction against learning the language (Horwitz, Horwitz& Cope, 1986). It can be assumed that this anxiety reaction is developed gradually as learners try hard to make progress. When they see that they cannot make progress, they may have an anxiety reaction against learning the language. Indeed, the question of whether foreign language anxiety is the result of poor language learning or not has been controversial (Tasee, 2009).
Foreign Language anxiety is important, because it can represent an emotionally and physically uncomfortable experience for some students. Anxiety will affect students’ performance, especially their test taking. High anxiety has a negative effect on performance (Elliott, et al., 2000: 345). Foreign language anxiety has been found to have potential negative effects on academic achievement (e.g., lower course grades), cognitive processes (e.g., not being able to produce the language), the social context (e.g., communicating less), and the reaction for the language learner (e.g., traumatic experiences) (Tallon, n.d.).

According to the above explanation, learners have anxiety in learning foreign language. It will appear when they cannot follow the language learning activities, low competence, low performance and low achievement. Therefore, anxiety contributes negatively on learning foreign language.  

2.5 Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety

Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety (FLCA) is considered to be a situational anxiety experienced in the well-defined situation of the foreign language classroom (Horwitz, Horwitz& Cope, 1986). They view FLCA as “a distinct complex of self-perceptions, beliefs, feelings, and behaviors related to classroom language learning arising from the uniqueness of the language learning process” (Young, 1991). In all of these specifications, the context or situation dependent nature of foreign language anxiety is emphasized. 

Based on above explantion, anxiety on teaching and learning activities often appears. It happens because the uniqueness of foreign language learning in the classroom. Each student will feel anxious in different level. It depends on the perception, feeling and their confidence in the language learning process

2.6 Sources of Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety

Foreign language classroom anxiety arises in the foreign language learning in a classroom. Therefore, it has some things that cause students to feel anxious. According to Young (1991) there are six sources of anxiety:

1. Personal and interpersonal anxieties

Personal and interpersonal anxieties are related to a learner’s self-assessment of ability and self-comparison to others (Young, 1991). Learners usually evaluate their own capabilities. These evaluations might be positive or negative. Research shows that learners’ negative evaluations promote anxiety (Price, 1991, cited in Barlemir, 2009)

2. Learners belief about language learning

Learners have own perceptions about language learning. For instance, students consider pronounciation is the most importance aspect of language learning, but if they can’t pronoun correcly it will cause their own anxiety. Beside, learning language involve a lot of aspect and it is impossible to master language in a short time for beginner.

3. Instructor beliefs about language teaching

In teaching process an intructur felt he was a teacher, so he had to correct student mistake. However, students become anxious when corrected(Aydın, 2001; Bekleyen, 2004, cited in Barlemir, 2009). Even students will be afraid to practice again.

4. Instructor-learner interactions 

Instructorattitudes that too often correct students' errors will trigger anxiety, students will concentrate more on mistake than material delivered, and especially it is witnessed by their classmate.Even though it is instructor duty to correct student mistake, it is better not to do too much correction unless needed. 

5. Classroom procedures 

Speaking before the class is one of the causes of anxiety, especially when the students do oral presentations in front of their friends. Besides, oral quizzes and on call to respond orally also trigger anxiety. Some of the students feel anxiety and they are more comfortable when they are not speaking in front of class.

6. Language testing 

Kinds of test in language testing also affect student anxiety. For instance, test language in a certain way that they never did before either orally nor written will trigger the anxiety. 
Moreover, based on the sources of foreign language classroom anxiety earlier, it has happened in English classroom activities. In brief, the sources of anxiety come from students themselves, lecturers and classroom activities. 

2.7 Problems Affecting of Foreign Language Class Anxiety 

Anxiety affects the learning process of a foreign language. It brings negative impact as it can debilitate and inhibit language learning (Riasati, 2011). When the students get anxious, it can cause a higher possibility of making error. It occurs when they are ridiculed or teased by their classmates and evaluated negatively by the teachers. Briefly, anxiety can negatively affect student performance and self-confidence. This resulted for not showing their full potential because they cannot concentrate well.

Radin in Young (1991) stated that foreign language anxiety in the classroom during the teaching and learning process resulted in physiological symptoms like sweaty palms, stomachache, accelerated heartbeat, pulse rate, cannot produce intonation, and rhythm of the language, forget the phrases and words even refused to talk and just be quiet. In addition, students will also be self-conscious of laughter, avoiding eye contact, joking, short answer response, avoid activities in the classroom, attend class without preparation, do not attend all classes, sit in the back row and avoid speaking in the classroom. 

Overall, all effects of anxiety cannot be seen directly because it is psychological phenomena. It requires more detailed explanation of each student to share what they feel in the class. Besides, some physical indications of anxiety during the learning process in the classroom are characterized by sweaty palms, stomachache, accelerated heartbeat, pulse rate, avoiding eye contact, joking, short answer response, cannot produce intonation and rhythm.

2.8 Solutions to Reduce Foreign Language Class Anxiety

Given the tremendous influence of anxiety while learning English, we need a way to cope with the anxiety. As a learning process, especially in learning English, there are several strategies that can help learner. Based on the sources of anxiety which are described earlier, there are several solutions to decrease anxiety as follow: 

1. Personal and interpersonal anxieties

According to Foss and Reitzel in Young (1991), the attempt to reduce anxiety in personal and interpersonal anxiety is students have to recognize their irrational beliefs and fears, so they can control their anxiety. Actually they are able to handle it and not to be avoided. For instance, when students are required to answer verbal question, they are allowed to write on the board if they speak unconfidently. In addition students should do outside classroom activities e.g. working with a tutor, join a language club, do exercise, and self-talk practice.

2. Learners belief about language learning

Lack of students’ knowledge or experience in learning language will raise learner perspective that learning a second language or a foreign language is difficult. Therefore, the teacher's role is important to change the students perspective.

3. Instructor beliefs about language teaching

With the communicative approach, it appoints the teacher as a facilitator who encourages students to give input, and provides opportunity to communicate their ideas.

4. Instructor-learner interactions

It requires an appropriate ways to correct student mistake. The instructors assume the mistake is a process, thus it is better for them to provide the advice to reduce the anxiety rather than merely correcting their mistakes. The instructors, who have a sense of humor, relaxed and patient, will make students comfortable. It encourages students to be more active in the classroom. Students will be more comfortable if the instructors take position as students’ friend not as an authority figures.

5. Classroom procedures

Providing a task in pairs or groups and play games will reduce students’ anxiety. Omaggio in Young (1991) believes this will make students more comfortable with his friends. Besides, it is better for instructors to avoid ordering student to speak in front of class, cultivated not just sit, do not call students randomly and oral reading.

6. Language testing 

It is important to create language test accurately and fairly in accordance with the test instructions. Indeed, not all test leads to anxiety but some can lead to anxiety. For instance, by doing pre-test exposure can avoid anxiety and frustration during the test.
In explanation before, solutions to handle anxiety are adapted to each type of anxiety. It will involve the students themselves in terms of students’ confidence, and interaction with lecturers. The role of the lecturers in teaching like teaching procedures, good relationships with students and well-arranged test are able to reduce students’ anxiety significantly.


3.1 Type of Research

Method is a strategy or process to collect data and then analyzes it. The research method used in this study is a qualitative research method. It is a research procedure that produces descriptive data in the form of words written or spoken of the people and observed behavior (Bogdan and Taylor in Moleong, 2007: 4). One of qualitative method is descriptive qualitative. Descriptive qualitative is a method that is used to transform and describes events in a study (Syamsudin, 2007: 14). It is able to capture the qualitative information that is much more valuable than just a statement or frequency in the form of numbers.

The reseacher will use descriptive qualitative method in this study because the researcher will conduct exploration to establish the theory about what are the factors influencing students’ anxiety and how to overcome it of the second semester students of Islamic Education Program and Islamic Economy Program at STAIN Purwokerto. Therefore, the result of this research can be described clearly and scientificly.  

3.2 Data Sources

Data Sources is a set of objects from which the data are obtained (Arikunto, 2006: 129). Then data of this study divided into two types, they are:

1. Primary Data

Primary data of this research are the second semester students of Islamic Education and Islamic Economy program at State College on Islamic Study Purwokerto, Academic Year 2013/2014.

2. Secondary Data

Secondary data in this research are obtained indirectly from informant such asobservation duringbilingual English teaching learning process, Interview forlecturers who have lectured in bilingual English class to overcome students’ anxiety, questionnaire for students to explore their anxiety and documentation to know student competence in bilingual English.

3.3 Population and Sample

Population is a collection of all elements or all individuals who can provide the particulars for research. Population also be interpreted as a number of people, objects or events from who will be chosen (Arikunto, 1998:115).

Therefore, population of this study is the second semester students of Islamic Education program with 45 students and Islamic Economy program with 40 students at STAIN Purwokerto, Academic year 2013/2014. In short, the number of population in this study is 85 students.

Sample is part of a population selected for the study. Arikunto(1998:117) stated that if the amount of the subject population less than 100, then it's better to use them as research subjects, but if the subject number more than 100, it can be 10% -15% or 20% -25% or more, depending on the situation accord. 

In this study, the total number of population is 85 students. Therefore, the researcher will use all of them as total sampling because the number of population less than 100, so the sample can represent research subject. 

3.4 Technique of Data Collection

To obtain the data and information needed in this study, the researcher used several methods, among others:

1. Observation

According to Arikunto (2006: 156), observation is an activity that gives full attention to the object by using sense of sight, sense of smell, sense of hearing, sense of touching and sense of taste. In this case the researchers will conduct direct observation to the subject. Observation method in this study use “passive participant”, in this technique the researcher present at the scene of action but does not interact or participate (Sugiyono, 2007: 227).

The researcher willobservewithout interaction in teaching and learning process and then taking notes about all of issueson presentation, asking questions, answering questions and responding lecturers. It is to find factors affecting students’ bilingual English anxiety and lecturers’ strategy to reduce it. Therefore, the reseacher will know who anxious students and who are not through what they have done during class activities. If they tend to be silent, begin to sweat, lack of response, worse of  competence and performance, and lack of confidence. Besides the reseacher will khow what lecturers have done to reduce students’ anxiety. 

2. Questionnaire

Questionnaire is a set of questions on a topic or group of topics designed to be answered by a respondent (Richards & Schmidt, 2002: 438). The forms of questionnaires consist of questions and check lists or rating scales. The Designing questionnaires must be valid, reliable and unambiguous. 
Researchers will give questionnaires to all of students to know students’ anxiety. This is done by providing a number of questions about how they feel in bilingual English classroom activities. Through this questionnaire, the researchers will find out students’ anxiety experienced.

3. Interview

An interview is a conversation with a purpose which is a verbal debriefing process between two or more persons, either directly face to face or using an intermediary media (Sugiyono, 2007: 231). Interviews were conducted by two parties, namely the “interviewer” who asked questions and “interviewees” who provides an answer to the question (Moleong, 2007: 186). Interview techniques used in this study is “in-depth interviews”. In-depth interviews also called unstructured interviews. This method aims to obtain certain forms of information from all respondents, but the wording and sequence tailored to the characteristics of each respondent (Mulyana, 2008: 181). 

The interviewwill be addressed to the six lecturers who lecture inbilingual English classes one by one. It is to find out each lecturers strategy to reduce students’ anxiety and make a summary what they have done to overcome this problem. 

4. Documentation

According to Sugiyono (2007: 240) state that documentation is a record of events that have passed. It can be a form of writing (diaries, life histories, stories, biographies, policy, etc.), image (photograph, motion picture, sketch, etc.) or the monumental work of someone (drawings, sculpture, etc.), It is supporting the data for the research. 

This method will be used to obtain data that is written documentation to support the existing problems in the research overview at bilingual English classroom such as: attendance lists, students progress report andstudents score. Students with lower grade mean they are anxious.

3.5 Technique of Data Analysis

Data analysis is a techique that is used to answer the research question that has been formulated in chapter I (Sugiyono, 2007: 87). Researcher will use trianggulation method to analysis data in this study. Triangulation method is a method to ensure data from different sources in different ways and time (Moleong, 200: 128). While triangulation methods consist of triangulation of source/informant data, triangulation of techniquedata collection and triangulation of time (Satori and Komariah, 2011: 170).

In this study reseacher will use triangualation of technique data collection to analysis the research. Reseacher will check the same data with different techniques data collection like interview,observation, questionary and documentation(Satori and Komariah, 2011: 171). Therefore, todetermine influencing factors of students’ biliugal English anxiety, the researcher will use the data of obesvation, questionnaires and documentation in order to support each others. To find out lecturers solution to reduce student anxiety in teaching process,the reseacherswill use the data of interview and observation in order to support each other.

The conclusion of this research is taken from main point discussed about influecing factors of students’ bilingual English anxiety and the lecturers strategy to reduce it. Therefore, the influecing factor and solution of students’ anxiety canbe understood scientifically. Finally, students’ anxiety will be reduced significantly after lecturers apply the strategy to overcome it.


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