Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Are International Students Quiet in Class? the Influence of Teacher Confirmation on Classroom Apprehension and Willingness to Talk in Class

Academic journal article Journal of International Students

Are International Students Quiet in Class? the Influence of Teacher Confirmation on Classroom Apprehension and Willingness to Talk in Class

Article excerpt

There were 4.3 million international students worldwide in 2011, and the number was projected to reach 8 million in 2025 (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2013). The United States hosted more international students than any other country, and the enrollment rose steadily with an 8.1% growth in 2013/14 to a record high of 886,052 international students (Institute of International Education, 2014).

Although studying abroad has become a trend, the majority of faculty (77%) in the College of Business at two southeastern universities reported that class participation is the top issue among international students in the U.S. (Tompson & Tompson, 1996). Most international students in the U.S. (82%) are from non-English-speaking nations (OECD, 2014). Many international students attributed their difficulty to fear or anxiety associated with speaking in English (Liu, 2007; Lu & Hsu, 2008). The differences in the cultural values and school environments might also explain why international students experience communication anxiety during class discussion. For example, the collectivistic cultural orientation, which emphasizes group harmony, may make Asian students more hesitant to assert themselves in a meeting than American students with individualistic cultural values that presume the uniqueness of individuals (Hsu, 2007). The teacher-centered and authoritarian teaching style in Asian countries also encourages students to be quiet in the classroom (Hsu, 2002; Myers, Zhong, & Guan, 1998; Zhang, 2005).

Given that class participation results in better grades and learning outcomes in American colleges and universities (Sidelinger & BoothButterfield, 2010), it is important to illuminate how teachers can help international students overcome communication anxiety and improve class participation. Although previous studies (Tompson & Tompson, 1996; Liu, 2007) have recommended strategies, such as improving students' language skills, little research has investigated instructional practices and classroom environment that can facilitate class participation among international students. According to Sidelinger and Booth-Butterfield (2010), both teacher-student and student-student relationships are important to student involvement in and out of class. Teacher confirmation behaviors, which emphasize teachers' relating behaviors with students, have been found to reduce students' listening apprehension and improve learning outcomes (Ellis, 2004; Hsu 2012). Classroom connectedness, which refers to a cooperative and supportive climate among students (Dwyer, Bingham, Carlson, Prisbell, Cruz, & Fus, 2004), is another significant factor contributing to student involvement (Sidelinger & Booth-Butterfield, 2010). Furthermore, research (Clément, Baker, & MacIntyre, 2003) on second language (L2) learning indicated that a positive intergroup climate improves students' communicative confidence in L2, which in turn increases their desire to communicate with the L2 group. Teachers' confirmation behaviors and supportive classroom climate should help international students participate in American classroom. However, research has not investigated these possibilities. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine whether teacher confirmation and classroom connectedness could increase self-perceived language competence, which in turn reduces classroom apprehension and increases willingness to talk in class among international students in the U.S.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Classroom Apprehension and Willingness to Talk in Class

McCroskey (1977) originally defined Communication apprehension as fear or anxiety associated with either real or anticipated communication with other people. Neer (1987) studied apprehension experienced in the classroom setting and defined classroom apprehension (CCA) as evaluation apprehension or expectation of negative outcomes associated with class participation. …

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