Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Study on Correlation of Risk-Taking and the Oral Production of English Majors in China

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

A Study on Correlation of Risk-Taking and the Oral Production of English Majors in China

Article excerpt


Risk-taking refers to the tendency to engage in behaviors that have the potential to be harmful or dangerous, yet at the same time provides the opportunity for some kinds of outcome that can be perceived as positive. Ely (1986) and Bang (1999) have mentioned the relationship between risk-taking and oral production in the process of English learning. However, few researches have set their foot into the correlation between risk-taking of English majors and their oral production. Hence, it is indispensable to carry out this study to fill the gap. The study aims to investigate the general situation of English majors' risk-taking in oral production; how does risk-taking of English majors correlate with fluency, accuracy and complexity in oral production; what is the difference between high risk-taking and the low risk-taking of English majors in the oral production: fluency, accuracy and complexity? And if there exists some differences, how these related to risk-taking? The results show that the English majors' risk-taking is at a relatively low level; there is a positive and strong correlation between risk-taking of English majors and the two aspects of oral production: fluency, accuracy, and there is no correlation between risk-taking and complexity; there exists difference between high risk-taking and low risk-taking in oral fluency and accuracy for English majors. The higher risk-taking subjects are able to produce more fluent and accurate sentences than the low risk-taking subjects. However, no difference has been found between high risk-taking and low risk-taking in the oral production of complexity.

Keywords: risk-taking, oral production, accuracy, fluency, complexity

1. Introduction

Corder (1978) hold that risk-taking was a feature of achievement strategies rather than reduction strategies, maintaining the former one facilitates language learning. Beebe (1983) regarded that lacking of risk-taking awareness led to fossilization and willing to take risk is one of the common features for learners who are adapting at studying. Oxford (1990) advocated that it was more useful for language learners to take moderate but intelligent risks, such as wild guess rather than taking no risks at all or taking extreme risks.

In order to acquire a foreign language, especially the competence of oral production, risk-taking is regarded as helpful. Risk-taking provides students with power and courage to express themselves in another language instead of their mother tongue. Students who embrace risk-taking spirit tend to seize every chance to communicate with others in English no matter in classroom or extracurricular environment.

2. Literature Review

2.1 Definition of Risk-Taking

Risk-taking is defined as the behaviors of doing something which involves risks with the aim of achieving something in the Longman Advanced Dictionary (3rd edition, 2004). As the fact that studies on risk-taking are very mature and have produced fruitful results abroad, various definitions of risk-taking are proposed by many researchers abroad.

Bem (1971) considers risk-taking as a behavior that someone is willing to make something new and different regardless of paying their attention to success or failure primarily. Sinclair (1975) regards that risk-taking is the practice of engaging in a new venture with confidence. The challenge needs you to leave your comfort zone by stretching the mind, body, emotion, spirit, or interpersonal relationship.

Beebe (1983) defined risk-taking as: an individual should make choice from different possibilities, and the result is uncertain, maybe it turns out failure. Ely (1986) further pointed out that risk-taking in foreign language acquisition refers to the tendency of taking risk when using foreign language. Their four concrete behaviors are: using new linguistic elements without hesitancy; trying to use the intricate or difficult linguistic elements; be tolerant enough to use less accurate or precise language; do not practice secretly before using new language elements. …

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