The Role of Goal Orientations and Communication Strategies in Willingness to Communicate in EMI Classrooms
Background: In English-medium instruction (EMI) classrooms, goal orientations, strategies, and communication play pivotal roles in facilitating effective learning. Achievement goal orientations (AGOs) guide and control learner competence-relevant behavior in academic performance. Communication strategies (CSs) are communication aids for learners to cope with problems or breakdowns while speaking the target language. Strategic competence is an indispensable affective-cognitive factor that promotes learners’ willingness to communicate (WTC) in a target language.
Purpose: This study aims to investigate the role of AGOs and CSs in predicting WTC and the effect of English proficiency on AGOs and CSs in EMI classrooms.
Methods: An online questionnaire survey regarding the perception of AGOs, CSs, and WTC was conducted with 595 university students taking one EMI course in social science and humanity domains in Taiwan. The items were on a 6-point Likert scale ranging from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’. Hierarchical multiple regression was adopted to predict WTC in EMI classrooms. One-way between-group MANOVAs were adopted to examine the individual and joint effect of English proficiency on the AGOs and CSs.
Results: The hierarchical multiple regression model showed that task goal orientations and social affective strategies strongly and positively predicted the university students’ WTC in the EMI classroom. Performance-avoidance goal orientations and message reduction and alteration strategies were found to negatively predict WTC in EMI settings. Students’ English proficiency neither predicted their WTC nor affected their AGOs in the EMI classroom. High-proficiency students adopted accuracy-oriented, fluency-oriented, and negotiation for meaning while speaking strategies more frequently than low-proficiency students.
Conclusion: It is suggested that a supportive and dynamic classroom environment with higher-order learning tasks involving cooperation, reflection, and objective assessment criteria can be incorporated into EMI programs. Besides, instruction in CSs and the use of multimedia teaching aids can facilitate EFL learners’ comprehension of subject-specific materials and encourage them to engage more in EMI classrooms.
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