Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

Factors Affecting Willingness to Communicate in a Spanish University Context

Academic journal article International Journal of English Studies

Factors Affecting Willingness to Communicate in a Spanish University Context

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The present study examines the relationships among the variables believed to affect Spanish undergraduates' willingness to communicate in English. The participants were 195 students majoring in several degrees at the University of Oviedo. A questionnaire and a standardized English Test were administered to the students in February-March 2013. Regression analysis showed that the Spanish undergraduates' motivation to learn English had a significant relationship with their willingness to communicate in English. Results also showed a significant positive relationship between self-perceived communication competence and willingness to communicate, and a significant negative relationship between anxiety and self-perceived communication competence. Finally, results show a significant relationship between self-perceived communication competence and L2 competence. A gender difference in the effect of self-perceived competence on actual L2 competence was another finding of the present study.

KEYWORDS: willingness to communicate, self- perceived communication competence, anxiety, L2 competence, motivation.

RESUMEN

Este artículo examina la relación entre las variables que pueden afectar el deseo de comunicarse en inglés por parte de estudiantes de esta lengua. Los participantes son estudiantes universitarios de distintos grados de la Universidad de Oviedo. Se administraron un cuestionario elaborado para el estudio así como un test de inglés a los estudiantes entre febrero y marzo de 2013. El análisis de regresión muestra que la motivación de los estudiantes para aprender inglés está relacionada significativamente con su deseo de comunicarse en esa lengua. Descubrimos también que la competencia comunicativa auto percibida está relacionada de manera positiva con el deseo de comunicarse en inglés y de manera negativa con la ansiedad. Se observa además una relación significativa entre la competencia comunicativa auto-percibida y la competencia real en la lengua así como una diferencia de género en esta relación.

PALABRAS CLAVE: Deseo de comunicarse, competencia auto-percibida, ansiedad, competencia real, motivación.

1. INTRODUCTION

Communicative competence in the target language is the final objective of language learning. According to Dömyei (2007:45), the difference between seeking to communicate in the target language and avoiding such communication is because of "psychological, linguistic, and contextual variables." Willingness to communicate (WTC), the construct that was first proposed by McCroskey and Baer (1985), is concerned with these variables. It refers to the tendency of an individual to initiate communication when free to do so.

As the emphasis in L2 teaching and learning has been shifting to communication, studies are needed that approach students' attitudes to communication in a second (L2) language in different contexts. The present study examines the relationships among the variables believed to affect Spanish undergraduates' willingness to communicate in English. The current study is aimed at contributing to the examination and testing of the L2 WTC construct, thus continuing the line of research initiated in the 1990s, in an attempt to enrich the theoretical foundation of this construct in a different country and linguistic environment. Although the concept willingness to communicate could include communication in written forms (MacIntyre et al. 1998), this study focuses exclusively on oral communication or, more specifically, talking in a L2.

2. THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

WTC originally referred to communication in the first or native language (L1) (McCroskey, 1992). It reflects the stable predisposition to talk in various situations and it is seen essentially as a personality trait (MacIntyre et al., 1998). However, WTC is different when seen in a L2 context. MacIntyre et al. (1998) do not consider WTC in the second language L2 as a simple manifestation of WTC in the first or native language L1 because a much greater range of communicative competence is evident in a L2 than in a L1. …

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