To break the ice: A case study of willingness to communicate in L2 in English language in a university in China


Research output: ThesisDoctoral Theses


Under the influence of globalization in China, enormous attention is being paid to English learning and teaching. Previous research suggests that higher Willingness to Communicate (WTC) can lead to better achievement in learning a second language. However, it seems that many Bachelor of English (BE) students in Chinese universities are not likely to be actively involved in speaking activities in their English classes. Thus, the purpose of this research is to investigate what personal and contextual factors hinder and assist BE students’ willingness to communicate (WTC) in English language classrooms in China. Four research questions are posed: (1) What personal factors hinder and enable individual BE students’ spoken English in English classrooms? (2) What situational factors hinder and assist the students’ spoken English in English language classrooms? (3) How do these factors interact to iv influence WTC in English language classrooms? (4) What pedagogical changes can enhance BE students’ WTC in English classrooms? By mixing methods within a single site case study, it was expected that a rich understanding of the complexities of the pedagogical environment and process could be obtained. Questionnaires were used to survey student personal factors, then inspection of teaching documents and classroom observations, followed by teacher interviews, were used to study the contextual factors of learning. Student narratives, stimulated recalls and semi-structured interviews were used to further elucidate student responses to contextual factors. The goal was to suggest pedagogical strategies that would maximize WTC in English language classrooms for all BE students in the case study site. It was found that peaking English proficiency and low anxiety facilitated BE students’ WTC. But other factors in Wen and Clément’s (2003) Chinese WTC model hindered students’ WTC Finding of three studies suggested a modified three-dimensional Chinese L2 WTC pyramid model. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Education
Awarding Institution
  • The Hong Kong Institute of Education
  • ADAMSON, Robert Damian, Supervisor
  • WALKER, Elizabeth, Supervisor
Award date21 Aug 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • English language -- Study and teaching (Higher)
  • Second language acquisition
  • Theses and Dissertations
  • Thesis (Ed.D.)--The Hong Kong Institute of Education, 2012


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