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Motivation to speak: Perception and attitude of non-English major students in Taiwan

Dissertation
Author: Yun-Fang Sun
Abstract:
"I live in Taiwan where everyone speaks Chinese, why do I need to learn to speak English?" This statement ignited my interest in the topic of motivation to speak. How to generate students' willingness to communicate (WTC) to improve oral proficiency has been a key issue for English language teaching in China (Wen and Clement, 2003). Chinese students have been found to be good at grammar-based written examinations but wanting in oral communication skills. The same situation applied to students in Taiwan. The study was conducted at a university in northern Taiwan. Questionnaires on motivation and anxiety asked 115 non-English majors in two English conversation classes to give their perceptions and attitudes toward English conversation class. Follow-up interviews were conducted with six volunteer students for deeper analysis of their willingness to use English to communicate in the class, and what activities they prefer in English conversation class. Dörnyei (2001) notes teachers find their students' motivation fluctuates; such variations may be caused by a range of factors, such as the phase of the school year or the type of activity in the classroom. The results show that students have positive perceptions and attitudes toward willingness to communicate in English conversation class. Students (56%) indicated that teachers have strong impact on their willingness to use English to participate in class activities. Most students preferred a class size between 15-20 students. Students (81%) preferred more interactive activities such as group discussion on practical and interesting topics and a more relaxing learning environment. The results revealed that students were aware of the importance of the English communication skills, however, they would only use English in class and rarely use English to communicate with others outside the class. Based on these findings, teachers need to be more flexible to fit students' needs such as daily conversation skills, pragmatics, business communication skills and public speaking skills.

vii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION.......................................................................................1 Researcher’s Perspective....................................................................................................1 Background of the Study....................................................................................................3 The Setting...................................................................................................................3 Taiwan’s Education System........................................................................................3 The Learning Environment..........................................................................................4 Problem Statement..............................................................................................................6 Purpose of the Study...........................................................................................................7 Research Questions.............................................................................................................9 Significance of the Study..................................................................................................10 Overview of the Study......................................................................................................11 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW..........................................................................12 Motivation.........................................................................................................................12 Motivation Theories in Second Language (L2) Learning.........................................12 The Social Psychological Period (1959-1990)......................................................13 The Cognitive-Situated Period (1990s).................................................................14 Self-determination Theory.................................................................................14 Attribution Theory..............................................................................................16 Goal Theories.....................................................................................................16 New Approaches (past decade)..............................................................................17 Willingness to Communicate (WTC)........................................................................19 What is Willingness to Communicate (WTC)?.....................................................19 Willingness to Communicate (WTC) in Second Language...................................19

viii Page Willingness to Communicate (WTC) in a Chinese Setting...................................21 Socio-Cultural Factors......................................................................................................22 Anxiety......................................................................................................................22 Personal and Interpersonal Anxieties.....................................................................24 Learner Beliefs about Language Learning.............................................................24 Instructor Beliefs about Language Teaching.........................................................25 Instructor-Learner Interactions..............................................................................25 Classroom Procedures............................................................................................26 Language Testing...................................................................................................26 Parental Influence......................................................................................................27 Peer Influence............................................................................................................27 Teacher Influence......................................................................................................29 Summary...........................................................................................................................31 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY....................................................................................33 Research Design................................................................................................................33 Quantitative Methodology.........................................................................................34 Qualitative Methodology...........................................................................................34 Research Questions...........................................................................................................34 Research Site and Study Participants................................................................................35 Research Site.............................................................................................................35 Study Participants......................................................................................................36 Data Collection.................................................................................................................37 Instruments................................................................................................................37 Student Background Information Questionnaire...................................................37

ix English Learning Motivation Questionnaire..........................................................40 Anxiety Questionnaire...........................................................................................40 Informal Interviews...................................................................................................41 Data Collection Procedures.......................................................................................43 Quantitative Data...................................................................................................45 Qualitative Data.....................................................................................................45 Data Analysis....................................................................................................................47 Analysis Framework.........................................................................................................47 The Heuristic Model of Variables Influencing WTC................................................49 Quantitative Analysis................................................................................................51 Qualitative Analysis..................................................................................................54 Data Preparation.....................................................................................................55 Searching for Themes and Patterns........................................................................55 Design Issues....................................................................................................................55 Validity......................................................................................................................55 Reliability..................................................................................................................56 Generalizability.........................................................................................................56 Summary...........................................................................................................................57 CHAPTER 4: QUANTITATIVE RESULTS...................................................................58 Participants’ Background Information..............................................................................58 Demographic Information.........................................................................................58

Learning History………………………………………………………………… 59 Perceptions for Learning English………………………………………………….. 61 Influence………………………………………………………………………….... 63 Learning Preference……………………………………………………………..…66

x

Summary of Participants' Background Information………………………………68 General Motivation Findings.....................................................................................69 General Anxiety Findings..........................................................................................74 General Willingness to Communicate Findings........................................................75 Summary of Descriptive Statistics of the Subscale Items………………………………. 78 Instruments........................................................................................................................80 Findings from Research Questions One and Two............................................................81 Pearson Correlation Matrix.......................................................................................81 Regression.................................................................................................................83 One-way ANOVA.....................................................................................................85 Summary…………………………………………………………………………….88 CHAPTER 5: QUALITATIVE RESULTS…………………………………………….. 90 Introduction…………………………………………………………………………....... 90 Student 1: Alice……………………………………………………………………….… 91

Background Information………………………………………………………... 91 Heuristic Model Analysis………………………….……………………………. 92 Social and Individual Context (Layer VI)…………………………………….. 92 Affective and Cognitive Context (Layer V)……………………………………92 Motivational Propensities (Layer IV)…………………………………………..93 Situated Antecedent (Layer III)………………………………………………...94 Behavioral Intension (Layer II)…………………………………………………94 Communication Behavioral (Layer I)…………………………………………..95 Student 2: Charles………………………………………………………………………...96

Background Information……………………………………………………….....96 Heuristic Model Analysis………………………….……………………………...97

xi Social and Individual Context (Layer VI)……………………………………..97 Affective and Cognitive Context (Layer V)…………………………………...97 Motivational Propensities (Layer IV)………………………………………….98 Situated Antecedent (Layer III)………………………………………………..98 Behavioral Intension (Layer II)……………………………………………….. 99 Communication Behavioral (Layer I)……………………………………….…99 Student 3: Jeff……………………………………………………………………………99

Background Information………………………………………………………....99 Heuristic Model Analysis………………………….…………………………….100 Social and Individual Context (Layer VI)……………………………………..100 Affective and Cognitive Context (Layer V)………………………………… 100 Motivational Propensities (Layer IV)…………………………………………101 Situated Antecedent (Layer III)……………………………………………….101 Behavioral Intension (Layer II)………………………………………………..102 Communication Behavioral (Layer I)…………………………………………102 Student 4: Paris……………………………………………………………………….…102

Background Information………………………………………………………...102 Heuristic Model Analysis………………………….…………………………….103 Social and Individual Context (Layer VI)……………………………………. 103 Affective and Cognitive Context (Layer V)………………………………… 103 Motivational Propensities (Layer IV)………………………………………… 103 Situated Antecedent (Layer III)………………………………………………. 104 Behavioral Intension (Layer II)………………………………………………. 104 Communication Behavioral (Layer I)……………………………………… 104 Student 5: Sai……………………………………………………………………….… 105

xii

Background Information……………………………………………………….. 105 Heuristic Model Analysis………………………….…………………………… 105 Social and Individual Context (Layer VI)……………………………………. 105 Affective and Cognitive Context (Layer V)………………………………….. 106 Motivational Propensities (Layer IV)………………………………………… 106 Situated Antecedent (Layer III)………………………………………………. 106 Behavioral Intension (Layer II)………………………………………………. 107 Communication Behavioral (Layer I)…………………………………………107 Student 6: Yishuan……………………………………………………………………. 107

Background Information……………………………………………………….. 107 Heuristic Model Analysis………………………….…………………………….108 Social and Individual Context (Layer VI)……………………………………. 108 Affective and Cognitive Context (Layer V)………………………………….. 108 Motivational Propensities (Layer IV)………………………………………… 109 Situated Antecedent (Layer III)………………………………………………. 109 Behavioral Intension (Layer II)………………………………………………..110 Communication Behavioral (Layer I)…………………………………………110 Summary……………………………………………………………………………… 110 CHAPTER 6: DISCUSSION, CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS.......................111 Discussion.......................................................................................................................111 Research Question One........................................................................................111 Student Attitudes..............................................................................................114 Student Perceptions..........................................................................................116 Research Question Two.......................................................................................118 Research Question Three.....................................................................................122

xiii Teacher Influence.............................................................................................122 Parent Influence................................................................................................123 Environmental Influence..................................................................................124 Research Question Four.......................................................................................125 Research Question Five.......................................................................................126 Criticque of the Heuristic Model……………………………………………………….127 Conclusions.....................................................................................................................129 Implications of Research.................................................................................................130 Limitations of the Study..................................................................................................133 Recommendation for Further Research..........................................................................133 REFERENCES...............................................................................................................135 Appendix A: Student Background Information Questionnaire (English)........................145 Appendix B: Student Background Information Questionnaire (Chinese).......................151 Appendix C: English Learning Motivation Questionnaire (English)............................................156 Appendix D: English Learning Motivation Questionnaire (Chinese)...........................................159 Appendix E: Anxiety Questionnaire (English).........................................................................162 Appendix F: Anxiety Questionnaire (Chinese).........................................................................167 Appendix G: Student Interview Protocol..........................................................................172 Appendix H: Consent to Participate in the Interview (English)........................................173 Appendix I: Consent to Participate in the Interview (Chinese).........................................174 Appendix J: Anxiety Questionnaire: Mean and Standard………………………………175 Appendix K: WTC Questionnaire in Chinese and English: Mean and Standard Deviation………………………………………………………………………………..179 Appendix L: Pearson Correlation Matrix…………………………………………….... 180 Appendix M: ANOVA by Gender…………………………...………...……………... 181

xiv Appendix N: ANOVA by Content………………………………………………. ... ….183 Appendix O: ANOVA by Participate………………………………………….………..186 Appendix P: ANOVA by Reason……………………………………………………….188 Appendix Q: Student profile…………………………………….……………...……… 190

xv LIST OF TABLES Table Page 1. Summary of Instruments………………………………………………………... 43 2. Timeline of Data Collection Procedures…………………………………………47 3. Participants’ General Information.........................................................................58 4. Age Participants Started Learning English...........................................................59 5. Participants’ Like or Dislike of English................................................................60 6. Circumstances Influencing Participants’ Learning of English.............................61 7. Participants’ Reasons for Learning English..........................................................62 8. Participants’ Perceived Importance of Being Able to Speak English Fluently....63 9. Persons Participants Seek for Help.......................................................................64 10. Persons Influencing Participants’ Learning of English........................................64 11. Participants’ Desired English Achievement Level...............................................65 12. Participants’ Use of English in Conversation Class.............................................66 13. Participants’ Preferred Teaching Approach in English Conversation Class........67 14. Participants’ Preferred Content in English Conversation Class...........................68 15. Integrative Motivation: Means and Standard Deviation.......................................70 16. Instrumental Motivation: Means and Standard Deviation....................................70 17. Ideal Self-Motivation: Means and Standard Deviation........................................71 18. Ought-to Self-Motivation: Means and Standard Deviation..................................71 19. Perception: Means and Standard Deviation..........................................................72 20. Attitude: Means and Standard Deviation..............................................................73 21. Learning Preference: Means and Standard Deviation..........................................74

xvi 22. Participants’ Social Support: Frequencies............................................................76 23. WTC During and After Class Using English: Means and Standard Deviation....77 24. Reliability of Instruments.....................................................................................80 25. Model Summary for English Usage During Class................................................84 26. Regression Coefficients for English Usage During Class....................................84 27. Model Summary for English Usage After Class...................................................85 28. Regression Coefficients of English Usage After Class.........................................85

xvii LIST OF FIGURES Figure Page 1. MacIntyre and Charos’s (1996) Model of L2 Willingness to Communicate.......20 2. Heuristic Model of Variables Influencing WTC (MacIntyre, Clement, Dörnyei & Noels, 1998, p.547).............................................................................48 3. Modified Willingness to Communicate Model……………………………….. 129

1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Learning about the syntactic structure of a target language is not the same as learning how to speak that language. This reality is especially applicable to learners who reside in countries where access to the target language is limited mainly to classroom learning. The goal of the present study is to explore the means to motivate non-English major students in Taiwan to actively and willingly participate and speak in English conversation courses. Non-English major students were chosen to participate in this study because they generally have less interest in the English language that tends to be one of their weaker subjects. Chapter one introduces the researcher’s perspective, the background of the study, including information on the setting, Taiwan’s education system and learning environments. The problem statement, purpose statement, and guiding research questions are presented. Lastly, the significance of the study is discussed. Researcher’s Perspective I grew up in Taiwan. I learned English through a conventional grammar-translation teaching style and passed Taiwan’s high school joint entrance exam. Throughout my formal education in Taiwan, English was my favorite subject, and I always received good grades. However, after moving to the United States at the age of 16 with my parents, I discovered that the four years of English instruction I received in Taiwan did not prepare me to communicate orally with foreigners. I could only respond “yes” or “no” to questions and construct simple sentences such as “My name is Janny.” I could not communicate with others because I was unable to understand what they were saying. In those early years in the U.S., I found myself wishing my teachers in Taiwan had integrated listening and speaking instruction into the curriculum.

2 While teaching at different universities in Taiwan during 2000-2004, I noticed that many of these institutions offered English conversation classes as fundamental courses. Although teachers could use their preferred teaching styles, the classroom size was set and course textbook were usually assigned by the schools’ administrators. From my perspective, it seemed that universities had come to realize the importance of communication skills in language learning, but they failed to realize that students who were admitted into the universities were not trained and prepared for the new challenges of higher education. Students were trained to memorize vocabulary words, conjugate verbs and complete practice drills. They were accustomed to working individually, not in groups. So when they were asked to participate in groups to practice using English in a large classroom setting with other students whom they hardly knew, they were shocked. Many students and teachers view learning a language as being constructed by building blocks, with vocabulary and grammar viewed as the foundation. This foundation helps students understand the structure of English and provides the basis for the development of upper-level skills such as writing and speaking. My experience as an English teacher in Taiwan was that students were able to expand their vocabulary and grammar knowledge on their own. However, communication skills such as writing, speaking, and listening required more practice and instructor feedback, especially the skills of speaking and listening. It is my belief that the four English language skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening should be weighted equally in Taiwan’s school curriculum. Schools should provide more channels through which students can gain access to instructional opportunities that empower them to practice their communication skills. Such opportunities include the use of interactive computer language learning software and the development of English learning

3 communities (i.e., school-based English clubs within which teachers and students communicate interactively and freely using English). Background of the Study The Setting Prior to 2005, students did not learn English officially until they entered middle school around the age of 13 years. But because Taiwan is a small island of only 36,000 square kilometers with a population of 2.3 million people and has a paucity of natural resources, Taiwan’s economy depends heavily upon its international import and export businesses. In order to comply with the government’s internationalization policy and to become more competitive in the world, Taiwan’s Ministry of Education decided to integrate English into the elementary school curriculum in 2005. Starting in 2005, students began learning English in third grade instead of waiting until seventh grade. According to Taiwan’s Ministry of Education (2006), the purpose of the English curriculum in elementary and middle school is to develop English communication skills. However, it is a common perception that for most students in Taiwan the main goal of learning English is to get good grades and to pass school exams. Even if this instrumental motivation is the driving force, attempts to utilize more naturalistic social interaction is limited by the lack of an English-speaking environment in Taiwan. This lack of access deprives students of many learning opportunities and allows students to feel it is not necessary to use English as a communicative tool in their speaking or writing. Taiwan’s Education System The high-stakes examination system has been a tradition throughout Chinese history. In the past, it was the only channel for one to become successful and required years of preparation.

4 Although the traditional high-stakes examination came to an end in 1905 (Theobald, 2000), the open, fair, and competitive examination system has evolved into the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) in Taiwan. The JEE provides the graduates of junior high school and senior high school an opportunity to seek and compete for admission into the higher education system in Taiwan. The Joint College Entrance Examination (JCEE) is administered by the national educational division. It is held once a year in the beginning of July. English is one of the major subjects in the examination. The test format includes a multiple choice section, a cloze-type section focusing on grammar, a reading section, and a writing composition section. The distribution of students who enter colleges through the JCEE depends on the ranking of schools in the hierarchy, with public universities ranked at the top. Thus, students whose overall score is at a higher level may have better opportunities to get into schools and study in their preferred majors. Students whose overall score is not good enough to get into public universities or the majors they wanted, either go to private universities or choose to take the JCEE again the following year. The Learning Environment A typical classroom in all levels of Taiwan’s school system usually has approximately 50 to 60 students. The tables and chairs are arranged in rows, and all students face the platform at the front of the room. Students remain silent in the classroom unless called upon by the teacher. From an early age, children are trained to follow the teacher’s direction. Teachers use the one- way lecture as the only teaching method because it is believed to be the only way to accommodate large numbers of students in a short time period. Students’ relationship with their teachers is based upon a blend of respect and a small amount of fear (Huang, 1985).

5 Parents in Taiwan have high hopes for their children to have a better education so they might have better job opportunities and a higher social position in the future. Oftentimes, it is the parents decide on what their children should learn and what majors they should select. Thus students at all instructional levels are passive. Because they are rarely allowed to make decisions regarding their education, they also remain inactive in the classroom. Regarding the methods of teaching high school English in Taiwan, “EFL [English as a foreign language] instruction uses the traditional grammar-translation approach. English is generally taught as an abstract subject rather than as a means of communication because listening and speaking are not part of the JEE examinations” (Yang, 1992). In order to succeed in the JEE, students and parents prefer teachers who can deliver the exam information to them efficiently. As a result, the teacher-centered method of teaching and learning is popular (Huang, 1989). This is the reason why students have difficulty adjusting to the audio-lingual or communicative teaching approach when they enter the university environment. Students in Taiwan experience multiple challenges to learn English as a foreign language at all school levels from elementary school to university. First, the large classrooms of 50-60 students prevent teachers from providing individual instruction. The students are pressured by the exam preparation process and their parents who want them to succeed. In addition, the lack of an English-speaking environment outside the classroom hinders Taiwan students’ learning of English. On the economic side, Taiwan is a small island, majority of its economic resources are based on trade and tourism. Thus the overall language learning environment is influenced by nearby countries, such as Japan and Korea with whom Taiwan has close trade, tourism and political ties. In addition, due to its political tension with mainland China, Taiwan must seek

6 political alliances from the U.S. or other countries through the U.N..Thus, it makes more sense for students in Taiwan to study English. Problem Statement Research on student motivation to learn language is not new. Robert Gardner and Wallace Lambert (1972) were the forerunners of motivation in second language context; they concluded that the learner’s attitude toward the target language and the culture of the target- language-speaking community played a crucial role in language learning motivation. Since then, there has been an increasing interest in research on second language (L2) students’ varying sources of learning motivation. Internationally, English is usually taught as a foreign language with little attention being paid to the socio-cultural context. Large classes, non-native English teachers, and the influences of parental aspirations notably drive Asian students’ learning of the language. Little research has been conducted on EFL students’ fluctuating motivation in socially-situated practice or as a problematic factor as English learning develop as a global phenomenon. As increasingly more Chinese speakers are learning English, this present study can have far-reaching implications for a vast population. The constructs under investigation in this study include (a) language learning anxiety, (b) parental and peer influence, and (c) the self- perceptions about the willingness of students to communicate, especially those who are taking English as a requirement for other disciplines such as business. According to Dörnyei (2001a), motivation is one of the most basic aspects of human behavior, and most teachers and researchers would agree that it has a very important role in determining success or failure in any learning situation. Arnold and Brown (2000) explained that the main purpose of teaching is to inspire students to learn. Thus, in order to generate classroom-

7 specific motivational teaching guidelines, it is necessary to conduct research using educational or pedagogical-centered approaches to understanding EFL learners’ motivation and perception toward English conversation classes in Taiwan. Purpose of the Study Despite the fact that English is a global language and a useful tool for people in Taiwan to seek better job opportunities, Chinese is still the main language that people use on a daily basis. Consequently, students do not have much opportunity to interact and practice speaking English after class. Lave and Wenger (1991) reviewed several studies of learning involving apprenticeship and concluded that learners must have access to the practices that they are expected to learn. In order to create a productive learning environment, students need opportunities to observe and engage in activities which will strengthen communication skills in ways that correspond to increased central participation. Traditional classroom-based means of learning English in Taiwan create nonproductive environments in which students have little opportunity to observe and practice in a community what they learn in the classroom setting; hence many have little or no motivation to learn. “I live in Taiwan where everyone around me speaks Chinese; why do I have to learn to speak English?” A college student enrolled in one of my English classes I taught in Taiwan during 2000 posed this question. The class consisted of 40 students from several different majors, including economics, computer information system management, and management, among others. After organizing the students into groups of five and explaining the assigned discussion task, I began walking around the classroom to assist them with their discussions and make sure they were speaking in English. As I approached one of the groups which was not doing its task, the questioning student challenged me on why he had to learn to speak English as a resident of

8 Taiwan where Chinese is the language most people use to communicate. I was stunned and speechless. He was right from his point of view; however, I was concerned that without a perceived need for learning English, he would not be motivated to participate in the classroom discussions. More recently, one of my former students contacted me for advice on how to learn English. This student was hard-working, applying himself to his instructional tasks, but he never liked English. I was intrigued by what changed his attitude toward learning English. He shared the following story with me. After I graduated from university with a major in management in 2004, I tried to find a job. Despite having a bachelor’s degree in business, I found it is difficult to find a good job without second language ability. Most of the jobs require a foreign language, either Japanese or English; even valet parking in the hotel requires foreign language. I was discouraged and realized that I should have studied English harder when I was in school.

These two incidents—the student questioning me in the classroom and the former student seeking advice—brought to my attention the important role motivation plays in the learning of English as a foreign language. Often times, EFL students learn English not out of an internal desire but because of an external requirement imposed on them. As part of the curriculum, teachers only teach basic skills such as reading and writing but fail to emphasize listening and speaking. When communication is a goal of language instruction, such questions as “communication with whom?” and “for what?” arise. In addition to motivation and positive attitudes toward the people with whom students will communicate, willingness to communicate (WTC), psychology of communication and intercultural postures need to be examined as variables that affect communication outcomes (Yashima, 2002).

9 In 1967, Carroll conducted a study involving 2,784 college seniors majoring in French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish at 203 institutions. Student study participants took the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLA) in all four skills—reading, writing, listening, and speaking. The study results showed that “the median graduate with a foreign language major can speak and comprehend the language only at about 2+ (advanced)” (Carroll, p. 134). At this level, the students can only talk about concrete subjects, such as autobiological details, daily routines at home, school, or workplace, and most students make numerous errors. This finding indicated that more focus on communication skills in language acquisition classes is needed. For this reason, the purpose of this study was to investigate and describe motivation of non-English major students in Taiwan to participate orally in English conversation classes. By recognizing their motivations for learning English, these students could better understand their own strengths and weakness. By understanding students’ learning habits and identifying their learning interests and concerns, teachers would be better positioned to not only help students in the classroom setting but to also guide their learning outside the classroom. Research Questions The following five research questions guided the development of this study: (a) what is the relationship between motivation and willingness to communicate (WTC) of non-English major students in Taiwan? (b) What is the relationship between Foreign Language Class Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) and willingness to communicate (WTC) of non-English major students in Taiwan? (c) What are some key socio-cultural factors (e.g., parental influences) that influence college students’ motivation and willingness to communicate in conversation classrooms in Taiwan, and how do these factors influence college students’ motivation? (d) What does being able to speak English mean to non-English major students in Taiwan, and what are their concerns

10 when they have to speak English in the English conversation class? (e) What instructional approaches do non-English major students in Taiwan prefer in their English conversation classes that would increase their motivation, decrease their anxiety and promote their willingness to communicate in the class? Significance of the Study Language educators, business leaders, and international negotiators all have a vested interest in the impact that Chinese speakers will have on how English is taught, received, acquired, and co-opted by students who may be willing to learn English grammar and writing but lack the necessary motivation to sharpen their conversational skills. Historically, research on L2 motivation has been focused on the general aspects of learning the target language. This study’s aim is to investigate students’ willingness to communicate even when their motivation is low when situated in an instructional setting characterized by large classrooms in Taiwan. Since research on willingness to communicate in second language learning is relatively new, not much research has been done in Asia. The closest research that has been done are Wen and Clement’s (2003) study which focused and discuss the willingness to communicate in the Chinese learning context and Yahshima’s (2002) study of willingness to communicate in the Japanese context. Therefore, the result from the present study would add more cultural perspective to the willingness to communicate in the EFL context, particularly among non-English majors in Taiwan. In addition, the findings from this study will provide EFL teachers with critical insights about students’ motivation and perceptions toward English conversation classes, which could help language teachers better plan for the curriculum and specific classroom activities.

11 Overview of the Study Chapter one introduced the background of the study, including brief description of Taiwan’s geographic location and how it affects the government policy on English learning, Taiwan’s education system and learning environments such as class size, pressure from exams and parents and the lack of English-speaking environment. The researcher’s perspective, the problem statement, purpose statement, and guiding research questions were also presented. Lastly, the significance of the study in the field was discussed. In chapter two, the literature is reviewed relative to motivation and socio-cultural factors impacting students learning a foreign language. The study’s methodology is detailed in chapter three. The mixed-methods research design and the underlying theoretical framework is discussed. The research site and study participants are described, and data collection and analysis processes are detailed in chapter three. The results of the study are reported in chapter four, and discussion of these results along with conclusions and implications of the study are presented in chapter five.

12 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This chapter reviews of the research literature relevant to the study. This review includes literature on motivation theories in second language (L2) learning and the willingness to communicate concept. To situate the study, in a broader perspective, the literatures on socio- cultural factors that impact students who are learning a foreign language in classrooms are presented. These factors include student anxiety, parental influence, peer influence, and teacher influence. Motivation Motivation is an abstract concept that is difficult to define. Yet this term is used widely in situations involving learning a second language as well as performing work-related duties. When motivation is applied to a learning situation, “it is related to one of the most basic aspects of the human mind, and most teachers and researchers would agree that it has a very important role in determining success or failure in any learning situation” (Dörnyei, 2001a, p.2). According to the Longman Advanced American Dictionary (Pearson-Longman Publishing Group, 2005), motivation is defined as (a) eagerness or willingness to do something or (b) reasons why one wants to do something. In other words, motivation is one’s mental state whether he or she wants to do a certain thing. In the case of this study, motivation refers to whether non-English major students in Taiwan want to participate in the English conversation class. Therefore the focus here is on a classroom-restricted definition of motivation. Motivation Theories in Second Language (L2) Learning The study of motivation to learn a second language (L2) or foreign language has a history spanning more than four decades. Within this period of time, motivational research in L2 has

Full document contains 210 pages
Abstract: "I live in Taiwan where everyone speaks Chinese, why do I need to learn to speak English?" This statement ignited my interest in the topic of motivation to speak. How to generate students' willingness to communicate (WTC) to improve oral proficiency has been a key issue for English language teaching in China (Wen and Clement, 2003). Chinese students have been found to be good at grammar-based written examinations but wanting in oral communication skills. The same situation applied to students in Taiwan. The study was conducted at a university in northern Taiwan. Questionnaires on motivation and anxiety asked 115 non-English majors in two English conversation classes to give their perceptions and attitudes toward English conversation class. Follow-up interviews were conducted with six volunteer students for deeper analysis of their willingness to use English to communicate in the class, and what activities they prefer in English conversation class. Dörnyei (2001) notes teachers find their students' motivation fluctuates; such variations may be caused by a range of factors, such as the phase of the school year or the type of activity in the classroom. The results show that students have positive perceptions and attitudes toward willingness to communicate in English conversation class. Students (56%) indicated that teachers have strong impact on their willingness to use English to participate in class activities. Most students preferred a class size between 15-20 students. Students (81%) preferred more interactive activities such as group discussion on practical and interesting topics and a more relaxing learning environment. The results revealed that students were aware of the importance of the English communication skills, however, they would only use English in class and rarely use English to communicate with others outside the class. Based on these findings, teachers need to be more flexible to fit students' needs such as daily conversation skills, pragmatics, business communication skills and public speaking skills.