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Presented at Barcelona March, 2007 Willingness to Communicate: crossing the psychological Rubicon from learning to communication. Peter D. MacIntyre Cape Breton University Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada Where is Nova Scotia? Where is Cape Breton University?

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Willingness to communicate crossing the psychological rubicon from learning to communication l.jpg

Presented at Barcelona

March, 2007

Willingness to Communicate: crossing the psychological Rubicon from learning to communication.

Peter D. MacIntyre

Cape Breton University

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada




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Willingness to Communicate

  • Why do some choose to use L2, others do not?

  • Two points of departure this morning:

    • Language anxiety

    • Language learning motivation

    • We will extract ‘kernels of wisdom’ along the way

  • The emerging importance of time in ID models

  • Pyramid model of WTC

  • Volition

    • 4 Studies

  • Future Directions


Language anxiety l.jpg

3 levels of concepts

Trait

Situation-specific

State

3 levels of prediction

Poor

Very good

Not well known

Language anxiety

“Worry and Emotionality (usually negative)

associated with L2 learning”

Kernel #1: The relationships among variables under study in SLA may change substantially when concepts are defined at different levels of abstraction (e.g., state, situation-specific or trait levels).


Motivation l.jpg
Motivation

  • Gardner’s SE model

    • Motivated student shows

      (1) desire to learn, (2)effort, and (3) enjoyment

    • Integrative Motive combines cognitive, affective and behavioural elements

    • Focus on intergroup attraction


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Integrative motivation:

other

other

Integrativeness

Motivation

Language Achievement

Attitudes toward the learning situation

Language Aptitude


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Intergroup attraction

  • Intergroup attraction has been captured by concepts such as:

    • international posture (Yashima),

    • xenophilic and sociocultural orientations (Clément, Dornyei, & Noels, 1994),

    • acculturation processes (Schumann, 1986),

    • interest in the target language and people (Ushioda, 2001).

Kernel #2: The major motivation to learn another language is to develop a communicative relationship with people from another cultural group.


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Critics of the Canadian approach

  • Three key papers:

    • Crookes & Schmidt, 1991

    • Dornyei, 1994

    • Oxford and Shearin, 1994

  • Accused Canadian models of dominating research approach

  • Dominant in two senses

    • leading

    • oppressive

  • Issues unique to Canadian social context

  • Other issues should be studied, other cultures


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Expansion of motivation concepts in SLA

  • Self-determination theory (Noels)

  • Physiological approaches (Schummann)

  • Learner Autonomy (Ushioda)

  • Task Motivation (Julkunen)

  • Process Model (Dornyei & Otto)

  • L2 Motivational Self System (Dornyei)

  • Critical-Qualitative Perspective (Norton)


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But… can’t we all just get along?

“I have now come to believe that many of the controversies and disagreements in L2 motivation research go back to an insufficient temporal awareness…

that different or even contradictory theories do not exclude one another, but may simply be related to different phases of the motivated behavioral process.”

(Dörnyei, 2003, p. 18)


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Time

  • Different motivational processes occur before, during, and after behavior.

  • Motivational approaches will implicate a time frame, for example

    • Focus on longer lasting process (integrative)

    • Focus on rapidly changing events (tasks)

Kernel #3:The manner in which motivation affects language learning changes as the time frame under study changes.


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Time in sharp focus

  • Particular interest in the point in time where one decides to take action.

  • Crossing the Rubicon (Dörnyei & Otto)

    • Roman army could not cross Rubicon river, act of war

    • Julius Caesar led his army across

    • Civil war ensued

    • Taken to imply an irrevocable, dangerous course of action


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Language learner Rubicon(s):

  • Do I raise my hand to answer a question?

    • I should try, I must talk in order to learn, but…

    • What if I make a mistake, what will others think?

  • Do I offer assistance to a second language speaker?

    • I should help if I can, it’s an opportunity for L2 contact, but…

    • Can I make myself understood, will somebody with better L2 skill help instead?

  • Do I try to use the second language in conversation?

    • I want to say something, I want to talk to that person, but…

    • What course might the conversation take, what embarrassment awaits?


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Does a learner speak when the opportunity arises?

  • A collision of motivation and language anxiety

    • implicates other process as well

  • Question bridges

    • interpersonal communicative processes

    • intergroup contact

    • educational process of language learning


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Willingness to communicate

“Pyramid model”

  • Layered heuristic model

  • Captures time and concept specificity

  • Proximal – distal continuum

  • At the top is the decision point,

    • akin to crossing the Rubicon to initiate communication.

  • The shape is useful as a reminder of time

    • There is not a beginning point

    • we constantly arrive at a point in time when we can act


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1

Communication Behaviour

Layer I

L2 Use

2

Layer II

Behavioural Intention

Willingness to Communicate

3

4

Layer III

Desire to communicate with

a specific person

State Communicative Self-Confidence

Situated Antecedents

5

6

7

Layer IV

Motivational Propensities

Intergroup Motivation

Interpersonal Motivation

L2

Self-Confidence

9

10

8

Layer V

Affective-Cognitive Context

Communicative Competence

Intergroup Attitudes

Social

Situation

11

12

Social and Individual Context

Layer VI

Personality

Intergroup Climate


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WTC concept

  • Original L1 concept was ‘trait-like’

  • Our concept proposes a ‘state’ of readiness

  • Initiating communication is a matter of choice

  • Volitional act


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Volition

  • Long history in psychology and philosophy

  • Concept all but abandoned as issues of ‘free will’ were found intractable

  • Offers the potential to study how multiple, sometimes contradictory impulses, affect action

Kernel #4: Studying volitional choices demonstrates that opposing processes (e.g., approach and avoidance) converge to affect second language communication.


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Four studies on the process of initiating communication

  • MacIntyre, Babin & Clément (1999)

    • Based on Zakahi & McCroskey (1989)

    • Pretest WTC

    • Communication in L1 in a lab setting

      • Oral & written, easy and difficult tasks

    • Those who came to the lab had higher WTC

    • WTC predicted the initiation of communication in both oral and written forms.


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WTC and vocabulary learning

  • High School students given a 15-item vocabulary list (nouns, mostly animals)

  • Half studied along, half in small groups

  • More important was familiarity with study situation

  • In familiar conditions, introverts learned more and were more WTC than extraverts

  • In moderately unfamiliar conditions, extraverts learned more and were more WTC than introverts

  • In unfamiliar situations, there was no difference


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Two Focused Essay Studies

Baker & MacIntyre (2000)

  • 200 English speaking students learning French, regular and immersion programs

  • Described 2 situations

    • most willing

    • least willing

  • We looked for themes and noticed emotional expression


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Most willing

  • Immersion students had weaker emotional reactions in these situations than non-immersion students

  • Non-immersion students were pleased with small successes:

    “My father has a tailoring and bridal shop… and one day a French speaking lady came in and my Dad’s wife can speak French but she was off that day, so I was able to help her [the lady] out enough so that she would come back.”


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Least Willing

  • Immersion students expressed stronger emotion in these situations

  • In both immersion and non-imm., the type of event that upset them most was a Francophone interlocutor switching to English

    • a dramatic rejection of volitional self-presentation, it is ignominious

    • unexpectedly, many reported this was a motivating experience


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Second Focused Essay Study

  • Again used Most / Least Willing

  • Over 100 Anglophone and Francophone students in Ottawa

    • strongly bilingual institution, bilingual city

  • Typically, Francophones have higher more experience speaking English than Anglophones have speaking French


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Most Willing

  • Anglophones most willing in situations where the only other choice was silence (25% of situations described)

    • Interlocutor was expected to speak English if possible

  • Anglophones said error correction increased and decreased WTC, depending on context (20% mentioned error correction).

    “I’d be most willing if I had friends around me. I always felt comfortable in a classroom giving a speech. When you are out of the classroom I feel like people are analyzing me. I don’t mind when a teacher does it, but not an acquaintance.”

  • Francophones were generally highly willing, especially if friends spoke English


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Least Willing - Anglophones

  • Anglophones described two situations:

    • a lack of self-confidence in French (over 20%)

    • speaking to strangers (over 20%)

    • reported a feeling of being analyzed and critiqued, especially for accent and grammar

      • Recall William James’ account of the ‘cold outside’ as a paralyzing force.


Least willing francophones l.jpg
Least Willing – Francophones

  • Least willing with Francophones (50%)

    • family, friends, etc.

  • Political dimension, English poses a threat to the vitality of French

  • Highly specific situational vocabulary

    “Quand je dois parler de sujets tres precis ou je ne suis pas certains de l’exactitude des termes.” (“When I must talk about precise topics and I am not certain of the exact terminology.”)


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At the moment of decision…

  • Many factors can increase or decrease the likelihood of ‘crossing the Rubicon’

    • Psychological

    • Pedagogical

    • Situational

    • Linguistic

    • Sociopolitical

  • The influence of these will vary, wax and wane over time


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Kurt Lewin’s Field Theory

  • Action is based on totality of co-existing, mutually interdependent facets.

  • General life vs momentary influences

    • Momentary influences have greater impact on action

  • Driving vs Restraining forces

    • Easier to modify action by reducing restraining forces.

    • Anglophone speakers in Ottawa were clearly holding back


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Future research

  • Better understand the combinations of multiple driving and restraining forces

  • Focus on the moment, state-level processes

  • Increases the complexity of the models

    • Wen & Clément (2003) additional restraining forces among Chinese (based on deference and responsibility)

    • Yashima (2002) found WTC predicted adjustment and satisfaction with a stay-abroad program

Kernel #5: Future research in SLA should focus on the momentary restraining forces that come into play when a speaker is choosing whether or not to initiate communication.


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Summary: The ‘Kernels of Wisdom’

#1: The relationships among variables under study in SLA may change substantially when concepts are defined at different levels of abstraction (e.g., state, situation-specific or trait levels).

#2: The major motivation to learn another language is to develop a communicative relationship with people from another cultural group.


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Summary: The ‘Kernels of Wisdom’

#3: The manner in which motivation affects language learning changes as the time frame under study changes.

#4: Studying volitional choices demonstrates that opposing processes (e.g., approach and avoidance) converge to affect second language communication.

#5: Future research in SLA should focus on the momentary restraining forces that come into play when a speaker is choosing whether or not to initiate communication.


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Workshop activities

  • WTC questions from our study

  • Internet chat

    • letter

    • software


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Using your second language, are you willing to…

  • Count to 10?

  • Describe what you are wearing today?

  • Talk about your favourite hobby?

  • Order a complete meal?

  • Give directions from the Airport to the University?

  • Describe or interpret a painting?

  • Discuss how your local / national education system works?

  • Talk about the legal system in your home province / state?


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Using online chat to increase WTC

Question:

Do you think this will be effective in your context?

  • See letter from Mark Friermuth


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Presented at Barcelona

March, 2007

Willingness to Communicate: crossing the psychological Rubicon from learning to communication.

Peter D. MacIntyre

Cape Breton University

Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada


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