Willingness to Communicate in Instructed Second Language Acquisition

28 February 2017

This month we published Willingness to Communicate in Instructed Second Language Acquisition by Anna Mystkowska-Wiertelak and Mirosław Pawlak. In this post the authors tell us what inspired them to write the book and explain the process involved in their research.

Willingness to Communicate in Instructed Second Language AcquisitionThe main inspiration for writing the book was the conviction that learners’ willingness to speak in the foreign language classroom has to be investigated from both a macro- and micro-perspective. The first task was relatively easy because a number of tools were available. While there were hurdles in obtaining the right amount of data, all it took was to put together the requisite scales, introduce the modifications we deemed necessary, and apply required statistical procedures. The second task was much more challenging because it is not easy to register changes in readiness to communicate in real time.

It was clear to us from the very outset that we wanted to focus on changes in students’ willingness to communicate as they occur in regularly scheduled classes and to identify factors responsible for such changes. Such an approach was intended to capture classroom reality and make the findings relevant to everyday concerns of practitioners. It meant that we could not rely on sophisticated software that allows tapping into changes in willingness to speak on a second-by-second basis in the performance of specific tasks because this would have entailed pulling individual students out of intact groups.

Thus we decided to use a grid on which participants indicated their willingness to speak on a scale from -10 (total unwillingness) to +10 (total willingness) at five-minute intervals. The data from these grids, augmented by information gleaned from detailed lesson plans and questionnaires the students filled out at the end of each class, helped us establish changes in readiness to speak at both the class and individual levels and to establish reasons for these fluctuations.

Although this procedure is not free from shortcomings, one of which is some degree of intrusiveness in the tasks performed, it is difficult to think of a better way to tap the dynamic nature of readiness to speak. There is also a possibility of getting a much finer-grained view of such changes if students indicate their willingness to speak at shorter time-intervals (e.g., every 10 seconds). Clearly, there is a need to further refine this procedure but it is difficult to offer alternatives for the investigation of the dynamic nature of willingness to communicate in the classroom.

Willingness to Communicate in the Chinese EFL University ClassroomFor more information about this book, please visit our website. If you found this interesting, you might also like Willingness to Communicate in the Chinese EFL University Classroom by Jian-E Peng.

Willingness to Communicate in the Chinese EFL University Classroom

2 April 2014

Following the publication of Willingness to Communicate in the Chinese EFL University Classroom by Jian-E Peng we asked the author to tell us a bit more about her book and the background to her study. She also added in the extra last paragraph about the publication process with Multilingual Matters (with no bribery required on our part!)  

Willingness to Communicate in the Chinese EFL University ClassroomThis book is based on my research that investigated Chinese university students’ willingness to communicate (WTC) in their English language class. Utilizing a mixed-methods design, I examined the interrelationships between WTC and motivation, communication confidence, learner beliefs and classroom environment using structural equation modelling. A follow-up multiple case-study was then carried out to track the focal students’ WTC fluctuations over time and across situations and to identify themes underlying the fluctuations. The results were further integrated and interpreted from an ecological perspective, which revealed that WTC in this research context is socioculturally constructed as a function of the interaction of individual and environmental factors inside and beyond the classroom walls.

The reported research has been inspired by my experience, or more precisely, my puzzles as an English teacher for many years. I often feel frustrated when students are reluctant to participate in class activities and once they do, they tend to be stuttering rather than conversing. Their ‘communicative incompetence’ may largely be attributed to their lack of practice or their lack of willingness to communicate using English in the first place. In the English as a foreign language (EFL) context where I am from, such a willingness is of paramount importance because they do not have ready linguistic contact in real life that many other second language learners do. It is my hope that my research, along with many other studies in this field, can contribute to the craft of decoding the ‘black box’ of EFL students’ minds and inspire students to proactively engage in English communication and become competent English users.

Publishing with Multilingual Matters has been very much delightful and rewarding. This is a team who are highly professional, efficient, and supportive. I am thankful that my book proposal was quickly accepted, book draft timely sent out for review, and the final draft meticulously proofread and edited. This process has been incredibly smooth which greatly enriched my academic development. I would like to take this opportunity to express my deep-felt gratitude to the staff at Multilingual Matters.

For more information about this title please see our website.

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