LAMiNATE Talks: Peter MacIntyre (Cape Breton University). Willingness to communicate: How language learners become language speakers.
Communication provides a most intriguing context in which to study the interactions among psychological processes (such as cognition and emotion) and social context. It is not unusual for individuals to have two, three or more languages in which they can choose to communicate. If we add the ideas that communication can take place among two or more people with different language abilities, from native speakers to functioning bilinguals to novice second language learners, the whole process is teaming with complexity. Willingness to communicate (WTC) is defined as the probability that one will initiate communication with another person, given the opportunity (McCroskey & Baer, 1985). WTC refers to a readiness to speak that can be studied either as a general personality disposition or in a more contextualized sense the willingness to talk with a specific person in a specific situation (MacIntyre, Clément, Dornyei & Noels, 1998). Recent research taking a dynamic view of WTC emphasizes how WTC changes moment-to-moment within a person, recognizing also that there is stability over time and differences from one person to the next. We know that emotions also can change rapidly from moment-to-moment, occurring in continuous interaction with WTC. Prior research methods have examined WTC and its correlations with personality traits, perceived communication competence, and anxiety; a recent meta-analysis calls these the high evidence correlates of WTC (Shirvan, Khajavy, MacIntyre, & Taherian, 2019). Less well studied is the complexity of relationships among emotions, and how combinations of positive and negative emotions contribute to rapid changes in WTC. Recently we have examined the development of WTC in a multilingual context. In this 45-minute presentation we will review key findings from experimental, correlational, and qualitative research to explain the complex processes underlying something we do every day – choose to speak up or remain silent – which just might be the most important decision a language learner can make.