willingness to communicate in learning mandarin as a foreign and

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  • WILLINGNESS TO COMMUNICATE IN LEARNING MANDARIN

    AS A FOREIGN AND HERITAGE LANGUAGE

    A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO THE GRADUATE DIVISION OF THE

    UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII AT MNOA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE

    REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF

    DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

    IN

    EAST ASIAN LANGUAGES AND LITERATURES (CHINESE)

    MAY 2012

    By

    Ying Zhou

    Dissertation Committee:

    Tao-Chung Yao, Chairperson

    Kimi Kondo-Brown

    Ying-Che Li

    Cynthia Ning

    Lourdes Ortega

  • ii

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    I would like to thank my dissertation chair, Dr. Tao-Chung Yao, and committee

    members, Dr. Lourdes Ortega, Dr. Ying-che Li, Dr. Kimi Kondo-Brown, and Dr. Cynthia

    Ning for their constant support during the process of this dissertation. I especially wish to

    thank Dr. Yao and Dr. Li for their intellectual guidance and believing in me and

    encouraging me throughout my graduate studies. I would also like to thank Dr. Kondo-

    Brown, who gave me guidance on the methodology of the dissertation. I am also deeply

    indebted to Dr. Ortega, who guided me through the dissertation, offered invaluable

    feedback and suggestions, and showed most patience and encouragement during my

    dissertation.

    I thank my classmate, Shu-Ling Wu, for working with me to develop the

    Mandarin elicited imitation task. I am also very grateful to my friends and classmates,

    Changqin Geng, Qiaona Yu, Shuhui Su, Yang Xiao, and Christopher Magriney, who

    helped me to collect data from their students. I also would like to thank my friend, Tanny

    Tang, for her encouragement and assistance in data collection of the dissertation.

    My gratitude is also due to Richard Medina, the IT specialist at the University of

    Hawaii at Mnoa, who helped to develop a web-based Mandarin elicited imitation Task.

    I also thank Language Learning for the grant to develop a web-based questionnaire and

    purchase the software AMOS to analyze the data.

    Finally and foremost, I thank my husband, Enning Zhang, for undertaking all the

    family responsibilities to allow me to spend my time on the dissertation and encouraging

  • iii

    me whenever I was in need of it. Without him, my dissertation would have been

    impossible.

  • iv

    ABSTRACT

    The research investigated willingness to communicate (WTC) and its related

    antecedents and outcomes in learning Mandarin as a heritage and foreign language. The

    study examined the relationship between L2 WTC and two antecedents: the perceived

    competence and the communication anxiety. The outcomes of WTC investigated are the

    frequency of language use in Mandarin as an L2 and proficiency in the L2. The study

    also compared the differences between heritage and non-heritage learners of Mandarin on

    their L2 WTC and its antecedents and outcomes. One hundred and seventy-nine

    Mandarin learners at five universities in the United States participated in the study. They

    are English native speakers and learners of Mandarin at various proficiency levels.

    Among them, 78 are heritage learners of Mandarin and the remaining 101 participants do

    not have any heritage background of Mandarin. The data were collected via a

    questionnaire to measure their language background, L2 WTC, and the two antecedents

    and one outcome (frequency of language use) for L2 WTC. In addition, a Mandarin

    elicited imitation task developed by the researcher and a colleague was used to measure

    the participants Mandarin proficiency levels. The resulting evidence was analyzed and

    inspected via AMOS, the structural equation modeling (SEM), to test causal relationships

    among the variables. ANOVA was conducted to compare the differences between

    heritage and non-heritage learners on the variables. The result shows that L2

    communication anxiety predicts learners perceived competence. When learners have

    higher perceived competence, they are more willing to communicate in Mandarin in

    classroom which leads to higher WTC outside classroom. Learners with higher WTC

    outside classroom actually use Mandarin more frequently and are able to achieve higher

  • v

    proficiency levels. L2 perceived competence is also important in directly predicting

    learners frequency of use and proficiency levels of Mandarin. In addition, the evidence

    suggests a tendency for heritage language learners towards higher communication anxiety

    and lower WTC and frequency of use in Mandarin than non-heritage language learners.

    Suggestions are provided to reduce communication anxiety and enhance perceived

    competence, L2 WTC and eventually improve proficiency levels in classrooms of

    Mandarin learning.

  • vi

    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................. ii

    Abstract .............................................................................................................................. iv

    List of tables ....................................................................................................................... xi

    List of figures ................................................................................................................... xiv

    List of abbreviations ..........................................................................................................xv

    Chapter 1 Introduction .........................................................................................................1

    1.1 Statement of the research problem ................................................................................. 2

    1.2 The purpose of the present study .............................................................................5

    1.3 Outline of the dissertation ........................................................................................8

    Chapter 2 Willingness to communicate construct .............................................................11

    2.1 Willingness to communicate ..................................................................................11

    2.1.1 Willingness to communicate in L1 ...............................................................11

    2.1.2 Willingness to communicate in L2 ...............................................................15

    2.2 Perceived competence ............................................................................................18

    2.3 Communication anxiety .........................................................................................20

    2.4 Synthesis study of L2 WTC ...................................................................................24

    2.4.1 Problem specification with the primary studies on L2 WTC .......................26

    2.4.2 Purpose of present research synthesis ...........................................................29

    2.4.3 Method ..........................................................................................................29

    2.4.3.1 Study identification and retrieval ......................................................29

  • vii

    2.4.3.2 The inclusion and exclusion criteria .................................................31

    2.4.3.3 Coding of the primary studies ...........................................................32

    2.4.4 Methodological findings ...............................................................................34

    2.4.4.1 Participants characteristics ...............................................................34

    2.4.4.2 Research design ................................................................................37

    2.4.4.3 Instruments ........................................................................................39

    2.4.5 Substantive Findings .....................................................................................41

    2.4.5.1 The roles of perceived competence and

    communication anxiety on L2 WTC .................................................41

    2.4.5.2 The relationship between L2 WTC and frequency of L2 use ...........44

    2.4.6 Discussion and conclusion ............................................................................46

    Chapter 3 Heritage language learners ................................................................................51

    3.1 Definition of heritage language learners ................................................................51

    3.2 The primary studies on affective factors of heritage language learners ................56

    3.3 Summary ................................................................................................................60

    Chapter 4 Elicited imitation as a measure of global proficiency of

    Mandarin as a second/foreign language ............................................................63

    4.1 Problem specification with the primary studies on L2 EI ......................................65

    4.2 Purpose of present research synthesis ....................................................................69

    4.3 Method ...................................................................................................................70

    4.3.1 Study identification and retrieval ..................................................................70

    4.3.2 The inclusion and exclusion criteria .....................................................