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Chapter Overview

This chapter critically reviews major theoretical and conceptual frameworks relating to L2 speech performance. These include the affective filter hypothesis, automaticity, the L2 willingness to communicate (WTC) model, the L2 motivational self system, and L2 speech production models. The contributions and limitations of each hypothesis or theory pertaining to L2 speaking are discussed in order to establish a justifiable theoretical context for this study.
This chapter starts with an overview of the affective filter hypothesis and the concept of automaticity. This includes a critical review of Krashen’s (1982) affective filter hypothesis and a brief introduction to the development of automaticity. Afterwards, the L2 WTC model of MacIntyre, Dörnyei, Clément, and Noels (1998) is presented with a discussion of the problems with respect to this model. Subsequently, Dörnyei’s (2009) L2 motivational self system is examined and its applicability in the CSL context is discussed. Lastly, an overview of the development of speech production models is presented. The compatibility of speech production models in the CSL context is addressed. This chapter concludes with a brief summary.

Affective Filter Hypothesis and Automaticity

The concept of affective filter was first formulated by Dulay and Burt (1977) and later developed and improved by Krashen (1982). As one of the five hypotheses formulated by Krashen in the 1970s and 1980s, the affective filter hypothesis together with the other four (the acquisition learning hypothesis, the natural order hypothesis, the monitor hypothesis, and the input hypothesis) establishes Krashen’s monitor model. Although Krashen’s affective filter hypothesis has not been the focus of research in recent decades, the three affective filter variables (motivation, self-confidence/self-efficacy, and anxiety) identified in this hypothesis have been the subject of ongoing discussion and investigation in the field of L2 research.
Automaticity may be the ultimate goal of learning a language. However, automatic output does not mean unconscious production without control (Bargh, Schwader, Hailey, Dyer, & Boothby, 2012). On the contrary, one aspect of automaticity is controllability (Moors & De Houwer, 2006). In other words, automaticity has to do with how much individuals are in control of their thoughts and behaviours. Regardless of the level of automaticity of L2 learners, they may still be subject to affective factors such as anxiety and confidence. In the following sections, an overview of Krashen’s monitor model and a brief introduction of automaticity are presented.

The Affective Filter Hypothesis

According to Krashen’s (1982) affective filter hypothesis, comprehensible input is a necessary but insufficient condition for successful L2 acquisition. Another indispensable condition that should be taken into consideration is the affective filter (see Figure 2.1). This hypothesis claims when learners “have a high or strong affective filter – even if they understand the message, the input will not reach the part of the brain responsible for language acquisition” (p. 31). In other words, the affective filter is like a mental net or mental block between comprehensible input and the language acquisition device. In addition, Krashen (1982) identifies three types of affective variable or mental block related to SLA, which consist of motivation, self-confidence and anxiety (see Section 4.3 for recent research regarding affect). This hypothesis, however, is proposed mainly to address how the affective filter influences a person’s language acquisition. It does not cover the potential impact of affective filter in language production. Drawing on Krashen’s (1982) affective filter hypothesis, it can be argued that the affective filter is not only important to ensure openness to comprehensible input and language acquisition, but also it would be highly correlated with learners’ output, particularly speech production.


There are two major domains of automaticity research: preconscious and postconscious. Preconscious automaticity is “generated from effortless sensory or perceptual activity and then serve as implicit, unappreciated inputs into conscious and deliberate processes” (Bargh et al., 2012, p. 593), such as emotion regulation, motivation, stereotyping, and prejudice. Postconscious (goal-dependent) automaticity is “dependent on prior or concurrent conscious and intentional thought” (Bargh et al., 2012, p. 594) such as attention, decision-making, and cognitive skill acquisition.
Language learning/acquisition, as a kind of cognitive skill acquisition, is rather complex and dynamic. Language production, as an outcome or embodiment of language learning/acquisition, can be regarded as a complex chain of mental operations that enable people to automatically convert complex thoughts and feelings into soundwaves (DeKeyser, 2001). However, whether mental processes are purely automatic is arguable, because it is hard to find an exclusively uncontrolled mental process. In effect, a mental process can have some qualities of both an automatic process and a controlled process (Bargh, 1994).
Given its complex nature, it may be difficult to measure learners’ automaticity level scientifically. Although Moors and De Houwer (2006) suggested that automaticity could be holistically measured on the basis of the following features: “(un)intentional, goal (in)dependent, (un)controlled/(un)controllable, autonomous, purely stimulus driven, (un)conscious, (non)efficient, and fast (slow)” (p. 319), the measurement can be subjectively biased. For example, how do we measure whether a speech is controlled or uncontrolled, and conscious or unconscious?
However, it is relatively objective to assess the fast/slow feature of automaticity. This study, therefore, measures learners’ CSL speaking automaticity through their cognitive processing speed, namely, the preparation time prior to their actual speech production.

Summing up

This section has briefly examined the affective filter hypothesis and automaticity. The affective filter hypothesis, on the one hand, factors in motivation, selfconfidence, and anxiety as three main affective filters for language acquisition. Automaticity, on the other hand, is indicated that it could be measured through processing speed. Drawing on the above, this study examines how the three affective filter factors (i.e., motivation, anxiety, and speaking self-efficacy as different affective filters) together with automaticity (i.e., processing speed) contribute to learners’ L2 Chinese speech competence and speech performance.

Willingness to Communicate Model

The construct of willingness to communicate (WTC) initially evolved from the earlier work in L1 communication. Research, such as Clevenge’s (1959) synthesis of previous studies regarding stage fright, Phillips’s (1965, 1968) work on reticence as a speech disorder, and McCroskey and Richmond’s (1982) study of communication apprehension and shyness, has suggested the common psychological issues in L1 communication or speech performance. McCroskey and Baer (1985) identified L1 WTC as a personality-based, trait-like predisposition. MacIntyre et al., (1998) applied L1 WTC to an L2 context (see Figure 2.2), arguing that L2 WTC should be treated as a situational variable open to change across situations. MacIntyre et al., (1998) thus, conceptualised L2 WTC as “a readiness to enter into discourse at a particular time with a specific person or persons, using a[n] L2” (p. 547).
In the follwing sections, an overview of MacIntyre et al.’s (1998) L2 WTC model is presented with critiques and the reason for factoring in WTC as an affective factor are discussed.

The Pyramid Model of L2 WTC

The pyramid model of L2 WTC constructed by MacIntyre et al. (1998) signals the complexity of L2 WTC. There are al-together six layers which provide an account of the affective (e.g., attitudes, motivation and personality), cognitive (e.g., communicative competence), social (e.g., social situation and intergroup climate), and psychological (e.g., desire to communicate) variables that might affect learners’ L2 WTC.
As shown in the pyramid, the topmost layer represents the final behaviour that learners would engage with in L2 use. L2 use refers to activities that involve L2 engagement, such as “speaking up in class, reading L2 news, watching L2 television, or utilizing a[n] L2 on the job” (p. 547). However, whether a person will commit definitively to use an L2 or not, it is the “result of a complex system of interrelated variables” (p. 547). The second layer, willingness to communicate, representing the level of behavioural intention to L2 engagement, is an important variable that directly links to L2 use. It reveals learners’ behavioural intention of communication, which implies their extent of eagerness to take part in an L2 discourse by using the L2.
The third layer of the model is all about situated antecedents to communication, including the desire to communicate with a specific person and the state of communicative self-confidence. The former variable is subject to “affiliation and control motives” (MacIntyre et al., 1998, p. 548). Affiliation reveals the degree of interindividual or intergroup attractiveness among interlocutors. However, L2 users have the volition or control to decide whether they would like to use an L2 or not. This depends on whether they are comfortable enough to use it. The latter variable, the state of communicative self-confidence, refers to “a momentary feeling of confidence” (p. 549). It can be determined by L2 users’ state of perceived competence and anxiety.
The fourth layer is referred to as motivational properties. Different from the third layer’s situational feature, this layer indicates the influence of the enduring individual difference traits on a person’s L2 use. It consists of interpersonal motivation, intergroup motivation, and L2 self-confidence. Interpersonal motivation is determined by a person’s social role within a group. Intergroup motivation correlates directly with a person’s membership in a particular social group. L2 self-confidence stems from one’s communicative competence and previous experience.
The fifth layer of this model, namely, motivational propensities, captures “the affective and cognitive contexts of intergroup interaction” (MacIntyre et al., 1998, p. 550). This layer entails: 1) intergroup attitudes, 2) social situation, and 3) communicative competence. Firstly, intergroup attitudes represent L2 learners’ desire for engagement in a different cultural group, either whether they will get involved and become a member (i.e., integrativeness) or whether they fear becoming assimilated and losing their own identities (i.e., fear of assimilation). In addition, a comfortable learning experience or environment “may encourage the individual to apply a more intense and thorough effort to the learning process” (p. 552). Secondly, the social situation refers to “a composite category describing a social encounter in a particular setting” (p. 553). The participants, the setting, the purpose, the topic, and the channel of communication are the five central influential factors to social situation. Lastly, communicative competence, known as a person’s L2 proficiency, “will have a significant effect on his or her WTC” (p. 554). Linguistic competence, discourse competence, actional competence, socio-cultural competence, and strategic competence are the five components of communicative competence.
The bottom layer of the model is the social and individual context, which contains intergroup climate and personality. MacIntyre et al. (1998) pointed out that interruption context and personality “set the stage for L2 communication, but ··· are less directly involved in determining a learner’s WTC at a given time” (p. 558). The social context or intergroup climate provides learners with opportunities for both learning and using an L2. The individual context, or to be more specific, personality, may positively or negatively contribute to an individual’s L2 communication.
In brief, it is the layers of the model, such as behavioural intention, situated antecedents, motivational propensities, affective-cognitive context, and social and individual context that together decide how the topmost layer functions.

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Critiques of L2 WTC Model

Being an extensively used and influential L2 WTC model, MacIntyre et al.’s (1998) heuristic model classifies various variables contributing to L2 use and communication, including affective, cognitive, social, and psychological variables. However, this model is not flawless. Issues such as the relationship between volitional control and L2 WTC and the hierarchical layers of L2 WTC model need to be discussed.
The L2 WTC model does not address the situations where individuals do not have so much volitional control over L2 usage, such as in a bilingual environment (Clément, Baker, & MacIntyre, 2003). This means under such situations a person does not enjoy much “independence between being willing and being able to communicate” (Clément et al., 2003, p. 205). For example, most Singaporeans are bilingual (normally English and their different native langauages). They must switch from one language to another accordingly no matter whether they are willing to use whatever the two languages are. It can be suggested that L2 WTC may not always be an influential factor to L2 use when the volitional control is not available. On the contrary, L2 confidence (self-efficacy) and communicative ability (speech competence) may have a direct influence on L2 use. For example, CSL major students, similar to Singaporeans, may not have much volitional control in terms of whether or not to use L2 Chinese in classroom contexts. However, the two languages that students possess may not be equally well developed as Singaporeans are. As a result, CSL major students’ L2 confidence and communicative ability may have a more direct effect on how well they use the L2 rather than their L2 WTC.
In addition, the hierarchy and order of the variables in the L2 WTC model need to be justified. In other words, why the L2 WTC model is in such a pyramid-shaped structure rather than a variable-interwoven structure, and how the variables influencing L2 WTC are numbered sequentially, may need further exploration. Although MacIntyre et al. (1998) pointed out that these relevant variables were placed according to their immediacy to L2 WTC, they did not clarify how the immediacy was measured. Moreover, the logic behind the fact that these variables were sequentially numbered from one to twelve was also not explained.

 Summing up

The above sections briefly introduce MacIntyre et al.’s (1998) L2 WTC model and offers critiques relating to it. Although the pyramid model proposes various factors contributing to learners’ L2 use from a comprehensive persepective, it fails to provide sufficient justification for the construct of the model. This study attempts to examine L2 WTC in the CSL context in hope of shedding light not only on the effect of L2 WTC on L2 Chinese learners’ speech production but also on the justification of the L2 WTC construct.

L2 Motivational Self System

L2 motivation research is initiated by the study of Gardner and Lambert’s (1959) motivational variables in second language acquisition. Among the L2 motivational research, the concept of integrativeness (Dörnyei, 2003a) may be the most developed and researched facet of Gardner’s (1985b) motivation theory. L2 motivation research in recent years, however, has called for the reconceptualisation of integrativeness.
In the following sections, the reasons for reconceptualisation of integrativeness are presented by drawing on some relevant studies. L2 motivational self system, in particular, is introduced as a reinterpretation of integrativeness. Reasons of taking L2 motivational system into account is discussed.

Reconceptualisation of Integrativeness

Integrativeness, an idea which should have been attributed to Gardner and Lamber (1959), refers to the genuine interest in learning an L2 so that learners can communicate with and come closer to another language community and even identify themselves as a part of the community (see Dörnyei, 2001 for details). Yet the exact nature of integrativeness is hard to define, because “it has slightly different meanings to many different individuals” (Dörnyei, 2003b, p. 5). Moreover, integrativeness, as the central factor in the L2 motivation construct, was proposed in a bilingual context. There may be no real or potential integrativeness involved in other monolingual contexts. In other words, the importance of integrativeness may vary in different contexts (Dörnyei & Csizér, 2002). In addition, the validity of the integrativeness construct in the EFL/ESL context is under question due to the “processes of economic and cultural globalization” (Islam, Lamb, & Chambers, 2013, p. 231), resulting in the deterritorialisation of language, culture, and identity. Therefore, L2 motivation research in recent years has called for a reconceptualisation of integrativeness.
Drawing on Gardner’s (1985b) motivation theory, more specifically integrativeness, a significant number of empirical studies have been conducted for investigating and testing the construct of L2 motivation, in other words, to reinterpret the construct of L2 motivation. This reinterpretation involved studies such as Warden and Lin’s (2000) from Chinese, Lamb’s (2004) from Indonesian, and Csizér and Dörnyei’s (2005) from Hungarian perspectives.
Warden and Lin’s (2000) study of 500 EFL university learners in Taiwan, for example, investigated whether there were distinct motivations supporting learners’ EFL learning through questionnaires. The results showed that Taiwan EFL learners lacked integrative motivation due to their limited opportunities for English use with English natives. On the contrary, students’ motivation for EFL learning was either because they found English could be useful as an instrument for finding a job or because they were required to learn English in order to pass an exam or a compulsory course.
Lamb (2004) investigated the EFL motivation of 219 first year Indonesian pupils aged 11-12 years old from an urban junior high school. Questionnaires, classroom observations and interviews were adopted for this research. Lamb argued that integrativeness might have lost its explanatory power in many EFL contexts. The reason students would like to learn English could not be simply due to a desire to integrate with the English culture or community but is also due to the influence of globalisation, which echoes Islam et al.’s (2013) argument. The results of Lamb’s study showed that students’ motivation changed across time as their development of different L2 selves was mediated by globalisation, especially during their formative years of adolescence.
Csizér and Dörnyei (2005) surveyed 8,593 Hungarian pupils aged from 13 to 14 in 1993 and 1999 respectively in order to explore the internal structure of L2 motivation and verify the proposed new interpretation of integrativeness from the L2 self perspective. The structural model generated from their study confirmed Gardner’s concept that integrativeness is the central factor in the L2 motivation construct. However, in order to “achieve a better explanatory power for the concept of Integrativeness” (p. 30), they proposed to equate integrativeness with the ideal L2 self (referring to the L2-specific dimension of the learners’ ideal self). Based on the results of Csizér and Dörnyei’s (2005) Hungarian motivation data, Dörnyei (2005) critically re-examined integrativeness and instrumentality, and proposed the L2 motivational self system to reinterpret integrativeness.

1.1 Introduction to the Study
1.2 Rationale and Significance of the Study
1.3 Research Questions
1.4 Research Context
1.5 Overview of the Thesis
2.1 Chapter Overview
2.2 Affective Filter Hypothesis and Automaticity
2.3 Willingness to Communicate Model
2.4 L2 Motivational Self System
2.5 Speech Production Models
2.6 Chapter Summary
3.1 Chapter Overview
3.2 Competence and Performance
3.3 Competence and Performance Assessment
3.4 Principles and Dimensions of Foreign/Second Language Assessment
3.5 Chapter Summary
4.1 Chapter Overview
4.2 Cognitive Perspectives on L2 Learning and Speaking
4.3 Affective Perspectives on L2 Learning and Speaking
4.4 Socio-Cultural Perspectives on L2 Learning and Speaking
4.5 Chapter Summary
5.1 Chapter Overview
5.2 Research Aims
5.2 Research Design
5.3 Research Instruments Rationale
5.4 Instruments Piloting and Validation
5.5 Data Collection and Analysis
5.6 Ethical Considerations
5.7 Chapter Summary
6.1 Chapter Overview
6.2 Background Information Results
6.3 Reliability and Validity of the CSLLQ
6.4 Quantitative Findings for Research Question 1
6.5 Quantitative Findings for Research Question 2
6.6 Quantitative Findings for Research Question 3
6.7 Quantitative Findings for Research Question 4
6.8 Quantitative Findings for Research Question 5
6.9 Discussion of Findings
7.1 Chapter Overview
7.2 Background Information
7.3 Qualitative Findings and Discussion of Research Question 1
7.4 Qualitative Findings and Discussion of Research Question 2
7.5 Qualitative Findings and Discussion of Research Question 3
7.6 Qualitative Findings and Discussion of Research Question 4
7.7 Qualitative Findings and Discussion of Research Question 5
8.1 Summary of Results and Conclusion
8.2 Theoretical Implications
8.3 Practical Implications
8.4 Limitations
8.5 Recommendations for Future Research

Chinese as a Second Language Learners’ Speech Competence and Speech Performance in Classroom Contexts: Cognitive, Affective, and Socio-Cultural Perspectives

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