Japanese University Students Willingness to Communicate in English: The Serendipitous Effect of Oral PresentationsReport as inadecuate

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Journal of Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics, v18 n1 p193-218 2014

This study examines the ways in which college students in Japan overcame sensitivity to external evaluation and increased their willingness to communicate in English. It is not uncommon for university students in Japan, who are otherwise proficient speakers of English and motivated to learn, fail to exhibit English competency in real communication situations. In interviews with students and teachers we discovered that sociocultural factors impede spontaneous communication, resulting in a reduced level of willingness to communicate in the students' L2, English. The social norms of the language classroom at a Japanese university create a milieu where individual students are sensitized to the social appropriateness of their communication acts. Since these norms are related to both the speech community of college students as well as larger societal expectations, including the concept of "seken" (public eye), we suggest that language educators need to consider carefully the social context of the Japanese student language community when facilitating individuals' development of English language competence. Serendipitously we discovered that communication apprehension decreased when socially appropriate acts of communication were encouraged. The participants for this study read books (graded readers) of their own selection individually as a part of reading classes and gave in-class presentations, an idea self-initiated by the students themselves. Without any explicit attempt at boosting their levels of willingness to communicate, the participants of this study reported that they gained higher self-perceived communicative competence and felt more comfortable in speaking.

Descriptors: Foreign Countries, College Students, English (Second Language), Second Language Learning, Communicative Competence (Languages), Social Environment, Anxiety, Reading Instruction, Books, Oral Language, Assignments, Teaching Methods, Self Concept, Learning Motivation, Nursing Education, Majors (Students), Questionnaires

Pan-Pacific Association of Applied Linguistics. Department of English, Namseoul University, 21 Maeju-ri, Seonghwan-eup, Cheonan-city, Choongnam, Korea 330-707. Tel: +82-2-3290-1995; e-mail: paalkorea[at]yahoo.co.kr; Web site: http://paal.kr/journals/journals.html

Author: Matsuoka, Rieko; Matsumoto, Kahoko; Poole, Gregory; Matsuoka, Misato

Source: https://eric.ed.gov/?q=a&ft=on&ff1=dtySince_1992&pg=1506&id=EJ1047466

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