A Model in Chinese EFL Classroom Context

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Willingness to Communicate in English: A
Model in Chinese EFL Classroom Context
Jian-E Peng
November 16, 2013
Willingness to Communicate (WTC)
 The concept of WTC originated in first language
(L1) communication research in North America.
 WTC in L1 was considered a personality trait
reflecting individuals’ tendencies to engage in
communication when given the free choice
(McCroskey & Baer, 1985).
WTC in a Second Language (L2 WTC)
An individual difference (ID) variable defined as “a
readiness to enter into discourse at a particular time
with a specific person or persons, using a L2”
(MacIntyre et al.1998, p. 547).
 L2 WTC is conceptualized at the levels of trait and
state. Trait WTC is a relatively stable personality
characteristic; whereas state WTC represents a
temporary condition that is easily changed.

Importance of L2 WTC
 L2 WTC predicts L2 use (MacIntyre & Charos,
1996).
 Students with high L2 WTC tend to seek out
more communicative opportunities (MacIntyre et
al.1998).
 Creating WTC among EFL (English as a foreign
language) students can inspire self-selective
commitment to oral communication.
A Heuristic L2 WTC Model
(MacIntyre et al.1998, p. 547)
An L2 WTC Model in the Chinese Context
“(Confucian) cultural values are the
dominant force shaping the individual’s
perception and way of learning, which is
manifested in L2 communication.”
(Wen & Clément, 2003, p. 25 )
Previous Studies
Previous studies have been highly informed by the
The socio-educational
socio-educational model (Gardner,
1985) derived in
model takes on a macroCanadian English-French bilingual
society.
perspective
on multiethnic social interaction.
 L2 WTC
 Attitudes (integrativeness/international posture &
This model does not
attitudes toward the learning situation)
necessarily apply to
the EFL context.
 Motivation
 Communication confidence
 perceived communication competence
Research effort has been
 communication anxiety largely accorded to individual
variables,
with contextual
(Kim, 2004; CetinkayaMacIntyre & Charos, 1996;
Yashima,
2002;
variables under-investigated.
Yashima et al., 2004)
Present Study
Inspired by an ecological perspective, this study
adopted a quantitative psychometric approach,
examining the interrelationships between individual
and classroom contextual variables.
 WTC in English
 Classroom environment
 Learner beliefs
 Motivation (intrinsic & extrinsic motivation)
 Communication confidence
An Ecological Perspective
 Ecology refers to the “study of the relationship
between all the various organisms and their
physical environment” (van Lier, 2002, p. 144)
 Learners’ cognitive behaviors are interwoven
with their physical and social surrounding
(Leather & van Dam, 2003).
 A language classroom represents a social
environment in which students and the teacher
negotiate their subjectivities as social
members.
Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation
The self-determination (SDT) theory
 Human beings’ basic psychological needs,
including autonomy, competence, and relatedness
are being either supported or thwarted by
environmental contingencies (Ryan & Deci, 2002).
 The satisfaction of these needs may create
intrinsic motivation.
Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation
Intrinsic motivation pertains enjoyment or a
satisfactory feeling associated with an activity.
 for knowledge (for gaining new knowledge)
 for accomplishment (for achieving goals)
 for stimulation (for the sensations when
performing a task)
Intrinsic & Extrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic motivation refers to regulations that
are external to an individual’s control.
 external regulation (performance of an activity
being regulated by external incentives)
 introjected regulation (performance of an activity
being associated with self-imposed pressure)
 identified regulation (investment in an activity
being driven by goals internalized as personally
important)
 integrated regulation (when one fully assimilates
an activity to one’s values, beliefs, or the self)
Learner Beliefs
Culture of learning
Classroom learning behaviors are “set within
taken-for-granted frameworks of expectations,
attitudes, values and beliefs about what
constitutes good learning, about how to teach
and learn, whether and how to ask questions”,
which have their roots in a specific culture
(Cortazzi & Jin, 1996).
 Learner beliefs about English learning
 Learner beliefs about classroom
communication
Classroom Environment
 Three major components classroom dynamics: the
teacher, the learners, and the tasks. (Dörnyei,
1994; Williams & Burden, 1997)
 Teacher support (teacher’s help, friendship, trust,
interest shown to students)
 Student cohesiveness (the extent to which
students know, help, and support each other)
 Task orientations (the importance of completing
activities and staying on the subject matter, and
the perceived usefulness of activities)
(Dorman, 2003; Fraser, 2002)
Research Design
Stage
Participants
Data analysis
Pilot study
330 students
students
330
from 11 university
university
from
Exploratory factor
Exploratory
factor
analysis
analysis
Main study
579students
students from
579
from
universities; 503
8 8universities;
503
valid cases
cases for
valid
forSEM
SEM
Confirmatory factor
Confirmatory
factor
analysis; Structural
Structural
analysis;
equation modeling
equation
modeling
Non-English-major first- and secondyear university students
Structural Equation Modeling (SEM)
SEM is an advanced technique rigorous in testing
multiple dependence relationships simultaneously.
 AMOS 7.0
 Maximum Likelihood (ML) estimation
Two important steps
Testing the measurement model of each latent
variable (confirmatory factor analysis, CFA)
Testing the structural model (SEM)
(Hair et al., 2006)
Research Question
What are the interrelationships
between WTC in English, classroom
environment, learner beliefs, motivation to
learn English, and communication
confidence?
Instrumentation
1. WTC in English (Weaver, 2005) – 10 items, 6-point
Likert scale
e.g. I am willing to give a short speech in English to the
class about my hometown with notes.
2. Communication Anxiety in English (Horwitz, et al.,
1986; Woodrow, 2006) – 6 items, 6-point Likert scale
e.g. (I feel anxious) when I have to speak without
preparation in English class.
3. Perceived Communication Competence in
English– 6 items, 11-point can-do scale (adapted from
WTC scale)
e.g. I am able to do a role-play standing in front of the
class in English (e.g. ordering food in a restaurant).
Instrumentation (cont’d)
4. Motivation to learn English (Noels et al., 2000) –
12 items, 6-point Likert scale
e.g. (I learn English) in order to get a more prestigious job
later on.
5. Learner beliefs (Sakui & Gaies, 1999; Peng, 2007)
– 9 items, 6-point Likert scale
e.g. I learn little by participating communication activities
in class.
6. Classroom Environment (Fraser et al. 1996) – 13
items, 6-point Likert scale
e.g. The teacher provides a timely response to students’
concerns.
Learner beliefs
WTC in
English
Classroom
environment
Motivation to
learn English
Communication
confidence in English
Figure 1 Hypothesized L2 WTC model in Chinese EFL classroom
Model specification based on Nyikos & Oxford, 1993;
Yashima, 2002; Yashima et al., 2004; Wen & Clément, 2003;
Hu, 2003
Results of CFAs
1. Factor structure of WTC in English
WTC in meaningfocused activities
.51
WTC in formfocused activities
2. Factor structure of communication confidence
Communication
anxiety
-.54
Perceived
communication
competence
Results of CFAs
3. Factor structure of motivation to learn English
.62
Intrinsic motivation
Identified regulation
.26
External regulation
.54
4. Factor structure of learner beliefs
Beliefs about
Englsh learning
.56
Beliefs about
classroom
communication
Results of CFAs
5. Factor structure of classroom environment
.49
Teacher support
Student
cohesiveness
.77
Task orientation
.51
Reliability
 Reliability
1. Cronbach’s alpha (α)
2. Model-based construct reliability (A.K.A.
composite reliability). This reliability accounts
for the effect of latent variables and
measurement errors (Hair et al., 2006)
 n
CR =

  i 


 n 1 
2
2
 n 
 n 
  i     i 




 i 1 
 i 1 
Table 1 Reliability estimates
Variables
Cronbach'
s alpha
.82
Composite
reliability
.82
.84
.93
.83
.92
Motivation to learn English
External regulation
Identified regulation
.89
.82
.90
.89
Intrinsic motivation
.88
.87
WTC in English
Communication confidence
Communication anxiety
Perceived
communication
competence
Variables
Learner beliefs
Beliefs about English
learning
Beliefs about classroom
communication
Classroom environment
Teacher support
Student cohesiveness
Task orientation
Cronbach'
s alpha
Composite
reliability
.74
.75
.76
.77
.77
.83
.77
.85
.79
.79
Validity
 Validity
1. Normed χ2 (χ2/df)
2. Fit indices: GFI, NFI, CFI, RMSEA, SRMR
Table 2 Fit indexes for the measurement models
Results of SEM
Table 3 Step-by-step modifications of the structural model
.46
.44
BELENGLEA
BELCLACOMM
.68
.66
.53
Learner beliefs
TEASUPP
.73
.33
.59
Classroom
Environment
STUCOHE
.85
WTC in
English
.18
.35
.65
.71
.62
.59
WTCMFACT
.35
WTCFFACT
.42
.15
.69
.19
.29
.81
TASKORIEN
Motivation to
Learn English
Communication
Confidence in English
.38
.50
EXTEREGU
.25
.90
IDENREGU
.81
.72
-.57
.58
CA
INTRMOTI
.33
PC
.53
.33
Figure 2 Structural model of willingness to communicate in English in
Chinese EFL classroom
Results & Discussions
1. Communication confidence is the strongest predictor
of WTC in English.
2. Motivation indirectly affect WTC through confidence.
 Students with motivation to learn English may not
necessarily be willing to communicate using English.
 A motivated students is likely to have a higher
perception of their competence and lower level of
communication anxiety.
3. Learner beliefs influence motivation and
communication confidence.
Results & Discussions
4. Classroom environment influences WTC directly and
indirectly via learner beliefs and communication
confidence.
 Students’ perceptions of the classroom environment
largely reflect how useful they perceive the learning
tasks to be and how well the teacher can boost their
enthusiasm with supportive behaviors.
 A pleasant learning environment is likely to heighten
perceived competence and lessen anxiety.
 Students with positive experience in communicative
classes are more likely to develop a communicationorientation belief system.
Results & Discussions
5.
6.
7.
The mode accounted for 62% of the variance of
WTC in English, 54% of the variance of
communication confidence, 14% of the variance of
motivation, and 11% of the variance of learner
beliefs.
The model provides an adequate fit to the data,
indicating the potential to draw on individual and
classroom contextual variables to account for EFL
classroom communication.
This study was the first effort to include classroom
environment and learner beliefs into a WTC model
by the time of its commencement.
Limitations
1. The conceptualization of learner beliefs was
confined to two aspects (i.e. beliefs about
English learning and classroom
communication)
2. Model modification renders the study
exploratory in nature. Further empirical
research is needed to confirm the analytical
results.
3. The snapshot obtained with students’ selfreports requires other sources of data to
acquire a contextualized understanding of
Chinese students’ WTC in class.
References
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