The Effect of Risk Taking Strategy on Efl Learners' Oral Proficiency

By Gorjian, Bahman; Prorkar, Reza | Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods, January 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

The Effect of Risk Taking Strategy on Efl Learners' Oral Proficiency


Gorjian, Bahman, Prorkar, Reza, Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods


1.Introduction

The effects of classroom interaction on language learning have long been a focus of research for second and foreign language teachers and researchers (e.g., Allwright, 1984). They argue that language learning comes about as a consequence of the interplay of the factors created by the learners, the teacher, and the interaction among them (teacher-student, student-student). Allwright (1984) sees classroom interaction as "the fundamental fact of classroom pedagogy because everything that happens in the classroom happens through a process of lives person-to-person interaction"(p. 156).

Classroom interaction is indeed a complicated phenomenon. Teachers' perceptions of the nature of language learning, of classroom activities, and of norms for classroom participation often differ from those of their students, who have a wide variety of proficiency levels, linguistic background, culturally predisposed ways of learning, and individual motivations and objectives in studying the language (Mostafavi & Vahdany, 2016). If ignored, these differences can cause misunderstandings and create a barrier to effective language learning and teaching during face to-face interaction within the classrooms (Rivers, 1987).

Several theorists have attempted to elucidate the human capability to acquire a second language and all the factors that may expedite or deter this learning (Dewaele, 2012). Definitely, the process of learning a second language has to be understood as both a process of learning rules and one in which several individual differences come into play. The environmental circumstances, age, attitude towards the target language and learning itself, neuroticism, motivation as well as extroversion are common examples of individual differences worth studying when assisting students learn a second language.

Apart from the ones mentioned, learners' ability to take risks appears as a significant individual difference, which has been considered a predictor variable of success in second language learning (Gass & Selinker, 2000, 2008). Essentially, risk-taking behavior refers to a "developmental trait that consists of moving toward something without thinking of the consequences" (Alshalabi, 2003, p. 22). Language learners may engage in the act of risk taking through learning a second language since they are establishing linguistic patterns for unfamiliar situations (Gledhill & Morgan, 2000). Similarly, to communicate using the new language, either orally or in writing, the EFL learners may face the risk of making a mistake. These challenges make the students familiar with the level of risk-taking. Risk taking may entail impulsiveness and keep a correlation with extroversion, introversion, and self-confidence among others.

Risk taking has concentrated on speaking rather on the other macro skills (i.e., writing, listening, and reading). Oral production has received specific attention since second language teachers may face problems when the students are not willing to take the risk of speaking activity in the second language class. Furthermore, the level of motivation can be related to risk-taking behaviors among EFL learners. For instance, the levels of anxiety can be the other factor in learners' risk taking when talking in class (Dewaele, 2012). Risk taking behavior is a condition in which the learners are ready to participate in any activity for the second language acquisition. Nakamura (1993) notes that testing oral proficiency could be a risk-taking activity since it are an important issue in language teaching. Speaking skill is one of the main risk-taking activities which play an outstanding role. Concerning speaking skill, Madsen (1983) declared that "the testing of speaking is widely regarded as the most challenging of all language tests to prepare, administer and score" (p. 147).

Previous investigations on risk taking have demonstrated that in EFL learning, risk taking plays a major role, since it enhances proficiency in the target language, giving experience to students to partake actively in English classes. …

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