Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Conceptualizing Willingness to Communicate: A Quantitative Investigation of English-Language Major Students

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

Conceptualizing Willingness to Communicate: A Quantitative Investigation of English-Language Major Students

Article excerpt

1. Introduction

MacIntyre (2007) believes that the emergence of communicative language teaching permits learners to improve their communicative competence. Thus, the perception of learners' communicative competence and needs pose a basis for language teachers to plan curricula, and develop language teaching efficacy.

According to Barjesteh and Birjandi (2011), surveys (e.g., Long, 1996; Swain, 2000) on contemporary communicative approaches highlight the significance of L2 language learners in tasks. These surveys are based upon this assumption that learners' competence is gradually formed by performance. MacIntyre(2007) remarked that this attention on the active use of the L2 in learning contexts has led to the arrival of a crucial construct in the field of L2 instruction: Willingness to Communicate (WTC).

The concept of WTC was first developed in regard to the first or native language (L1) verbal communication (MacIntyre, 2007). Richmond and McCroskey (1997; cited in Yu, 2008 ) believed that in the communication themes, the principal premise of WTC was all about its personality-based, trait- like tendency which is fairly constant throughout a number of communication field and groups of receivers. However, Dörnyei (2003) argues for this fact that one's L1 and L2 WTC are different. He also added that WTC in L1 is a rather steady personality trait which has grown during the years, but WTC in L2 is quite a complicated issue due to the fact that the it is greatly affected by language learners' proficiency level (particularly that of communicative competence). Moreover, the willingness to communicate model of MacIntyre, Clement, Dörnyei, and Noels (1998) went forward and proposed that the situation in which the learners are (including the topic and clas smates) along with the learners themselves play a major role in the learners' willingness for communication.

WTC has been hypothesized both as an individual difference variable affecting L2 acquisition and as an objective of L2 instruction by MacIntyre et al. (1998). Compared with the large bodies of research carried out on other individual difference factors (e.g., motivation, aptitude, learning strategy, working memory, and personality), there have been relatively limited studies on WTC concept. L2 learners' WTC is a substantial element for succeeding in interactions and comprehensibility as well as fluency (MacIntyre et al., 1998).Becoming fluent in a second language requires being willing to communicate. Fluency is often regarded as the ultimate goal of second language learners (MacIntyre & Doucette, 2010). It is commonly accepted that higher WTC provides learners with opportunity for more practice and rehearsal in L2 contexts (MacIntyre et al., 1998, 2003). Burgoon (1976) believed in unwillingness as one of the biggest obstacles for EFL learners in speaking process. This unwillingness can be induced by different variables and factors including: communication apprehension, low self - esteem, lack of communicative competence, self-perceived communicative competence (MacIntyre et al., 1998), alienation, anomie, introversion (Matsuoka & Evans, 2005; Tok, 2009), fear and avoidance of performance, behavioral shyness (Amsbary & McCroskey, 1967), fear of making errors, and so on.

A lot of research has been conducted about second/foreign language learners' WTC. Researchers have done analysis on possible variables and factors affecting WTC in both L1 and L2. It is well known that perceived competence is predictive of language learnin g and communicative behaviors. It should be borne in mind that WTC and communicative competence are not the same: there are many competent L2 learners who are not inclined to participate in L2 communication situations, whereas some other, less competent or proficient L2 learners who are actively inclined to seize opportunities to engage in L2 conversations (Dörnyei, 2003).

1.1. Studies on Willingness to Communicate (WTC)

The original concept of willingness to communicate has emerged from studies in the field o f communication around the 1930s (McCroskry, 1997). …

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