Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Willingness to Communicate in English: A Study of Malaysian Pre-Service English Teachers

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Willingness to Communicate in English: A Study of Malaysian Pre-Service English Teachers

Article excerpt


Language instruction in Malaysia emphasizes the significance of the English language. This study investigates Malaysians' willingness to communicate (WTC) in English as a second language (ESL). A hypothesized model that integrates WTC in English, communication apprehension and competence, motivation, and language learning communication strategies was tested using structural equation modelling. The results show that Language learning communication strategies directly affect motivation, self-perceived communication competence, and WTC in English. Further, the results also demonstrate that motivation influences the two components of communication confidence and influences WTC indirectly through the two variables self-perceived communication competence and communication apprehension. The final model correlates well with the data, thereby indicating the potential of using Language learning communication strategies with WTC constructs to account for ESL communication.

Keywords: willingness to communicate in English, communication apprehension, communication competence, motivation, language learning communication strategies, communication confidence

1. Introduction

Communication is an effective tool that can be used to positively or negatively influence people, and interaction is the principle means of communication among individuals. Furthermore, classroom learning is seen as a positive climate that could nurture student involvement and decrease passivity (Sidelinger & Booth-Butterfield, 2010). This highlighted the importance of finding real solutions to encourage oral communication among L2 learners in their classroom. However, the heuristic willingness to communicate (WTC) model, emerged from situations related to L2 use. Generally, there is a need to understand the various relevant linguistic, situational, individual, and communication strategies factors that play a vital role in students' WTC in L2. Previous research has focused much attention on learner characteristics, such as motivation, language anxiety, aptitude, and language learning strategies, and their influence on L2 learning (Gardner, 2009). Using WTC as an important means of enhancing English language capability, the current study aims to investigate the relationships among the variables considered to influence Malaysian learners' WTC in English. WTC in a second language has become a core concept of second language acquisition (SLA) and communication (Peng, 2007). Meanwhile, in the current study, language learning communication strategies can be used as a systematic technique to help learners overcome communication difficulties, which, in turn, could increase their self-confidence in class. Moreover, the current study supported Dörnyei's (1995) theory in which communication strategies play a significant role in helping L2 learners to vanquish their communication difficulties in conversation and make their messages more understandable to the listener. No previous studies have explored the effect of oral communication strategies on students' WTC using an L2, particularly in a classroom setting. However, because of the role of communication strategies in strengthening the target language interaction (Tarone, 1981; Faerch & Kasper, 1983; Dörnyei & Scott, 1997), communication strategies have been proven to have a significant effect on language performance (Rost & Ross, 1991; Dörnyei, 1995). Thus, the current study aims to incorporate these variables into the wider study on WTC, focusing on Malaysian university students in their ESL classrooms.

2. Review of Literature

2.1 Language Learning Communication Strategies

Learning strategies are activities that are rationally selected by learners for enhancing their learning (Oxford, 1990). Tarone, Cohen, and Dumas (1976) were the first to perform research on the use of problem-solving behaviour through learners' communication strategies. However, Rubin (1975) defined good L2 learners as those who are good guessers, willing to communicate, express, and analyze situations in an L2 production, leaders of their own speech, and mindful and observant of the meaning of words they use in conversation. …

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