Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Willingness to Communicate and Self-Directed Learning among Iranian Efl Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Relationship between Willingness to Communicate and Self-Directed Learning among Iranian Efl Learners

Article excerpt


Most second language learners spend a considerable time acquiring information and learning new skills. The rapidity of change, the continuous creation of new knowledge, and an ever-widening access to information make such acquisitions necessary. Much of this learning takes place at the learner's initiative, even if available through formal settings. A common label given to such activity is self-directed learning (Grabe, 1991). In essence, "self-directed learning is seen as any study form in which individuals have primary responsibility for planning, implementing, and even evaluating the effort" (Gibbons, 2002,p.12). Some confusion still existing about self-directed learning and its present status within the domain of ELT assert that a coherent theory is not available for the emergence of self-directed learning. Candy (1991) outlines some useful dimensions of a theory and cautions about the often unrecognized dichotomy that exists between self-directed learning as a process and as a goal. Long (1989) also urges that any selfdirected learning theory building be examined in terms of sociological, pedagogical, and psychological dimensions. These controversies in the field have led to a number of studies which have been aimed at reaching to the consensus of the nature on strategies in different areas in order to examine (Self Directed Learning) SDL for EFL Iranian intermediate learners. However, Long (1989, 1994, 1995) has tried to provide the ELT community with a self-directed learning theory which mostly concentrates on Selfefficacy and Self-planned learning.

Within the body of FLA research an emerging, propensity factor that has attracted recent attention is willingness to communicate (WTC), which is defined as "the intention to initiate communication, given a choice" (MacIntyre, Baker, Clement, & Conrad 2001, p. 369). Willingness to communicate (WTC) is also defined as the extent to which learners are prepared to initiate communication when they have a choice. It constitutes a factor believed to lead to individual differences in language learning. A lot of WTC issues have been researched and documented in the FLA and SLA domain (e.g., Kang, 2005; McCroskey & Baer, 1985; McCroskey, 1992; MacIntyre, Clement, Dornyei, & Noels, 1998; MacIntyre, 2007; McCroskey & Richmond, 1987; Yashima, 2002). Meanwhile the relationship between willing ness to communicate and some other specific learning strategies such as self-directed learning or the cognitive concepts such as critical thinking requires more research. Regarding the literature on second/foreign language development, willingness to communicate and self-directed learning, it is assumed that these two constructs are closely connected. Thus, it might seem reasonable to investigate the relationship, if any, that might exist between willingness to communicate, and self-directed learning among Iranian EFL learners at the upper intermediate level of language proficiency.

2.Literature review

2.1Theoretical Background to the Study

The present section deals with the theoretical issues pertained to willingness to communicate, and selfdirected learning. Meanwhile the specific discussions pointed out here will be focusing on the EFL and ESL contexts.

Willingness to Communicate (WTC)

The starting points of the WTC construct are in the researches on the first language (L1) communication (McCroskey and Baer, 1985). The scale was initially introduced as an endeavor aiming to quantify the respondent's inclination to approach or abstain from starting communication (McCroskey and Richmond, 1987). The early form of the scale in the interim depended on Burgoon's (1976), as refered to in Berry and Woods (2007, p.352) unwillingness to convey scale, with the exception of that the construct is worded in positive terms and accept the respondent is mindful of his/her own particular methodology/shirking propensities.

McCroskey, et al. …

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