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Willingness to communicate in English among Malaysian undergraduates on campus: an identity-based motivation perspective.


Siti Bahirah Saidi (2018) Willingness to communicate in English among Malaysian undergraduates on campus: an identity-based motivation perspective. Doctoral thesis, University of York.


This thesis presents a mixed-methods study on Malaysian undergraduate students’ willingness to communicate (WTC) in English on campus. WTC is now a significant issue in second language acquisition (SLA) field as creating willing second language (L2) communicators is regarded as a necessary component of successful L2 instruction. Thus, much research has been conducted to investigate WTC, especially in non-Western contexts, where the heuristic L2 WTC model (MacIntyre, Dörnyei, Clément, & Noels, 1998) has been complemented by various models that incorporate explicit cultural perspectives, such as the models by Wen and Clément (2003) and Peng (2014). However, these models are drawn based on the monolithic idea of east versus west, instead of a pluralistic view, and, as such, might not have explanatory power in an Eastern multi-cultural society such as Malaysia.

The present study acknowledges this gap in research on L2 WTC in plural societies and seeks to address three key issues associated with L2 WTC in Malaysia. First, there is a need to develop and validate an instrument to examine L2 WTC in a plural society context because L2 WTC is contextually related. Second, it is essential to develop a statistical model of L2 WTC in a plural society to explore the interrelationship between psychological and socio-cultural factors that are likely to influence it. Third, it is crucial to understand learners’ perspectives at the individual level through adopting a sociological approach. This study addresses the above issues by developing and validating a plural society willingness to communicate (PSWTC) questionnaire; examining the interrelationship between WTC, psychological, and socio-cultural variables using structural equation modelling on data collected via a large-scale survey; and complementing and expanding the results through semi-structured interviews analysed using thematic analysis.

There are two main findings of the study which provide grounds for the proposition of an identity-based motivation model of L2 WTC in a plural society. First, learners’ L2 WTC preferences are strongly mediated by the campus context. Evidence shows that learners’ L2 WTC on campus fluctuates according to interlocutors’ proficiency levels and ethnicities. Second, learners’ investment in communicating in English on campus is highly influenced by their self-determination level.

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Additional Metadata

Item Type: UMK Etheses
Collection Type: Thesis
Date: 2018
Subject Heading: English language - Study and teaching - Foreign speakers - Research.
Number of Pages: 293
Call Number: PE1128.A2 S58 2018 tes
Supervisor: Dr. Cylcia Bolibaugh.
Programme: Doctor of Philosophy
Institution: University of York
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Faculty/Centre/Office: Faculty of Language Studies and Human Development
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