This article presents an evaluation of factors that affect studentsí willingness to engage in oral communication during foreign language classes at university level in Saudi Arabia. Results presented in this discussion are based on qualitative surveys of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students and teachers.
This investigation highlights the role of teachers and classroom management. For data collection, the researcher used a triangulation method which utilized focus-group discussions and individual interviews. The study adopts the views of MacIntyre (1994) along with MacIntyre and Charos (1996) on the willingness to communicate WTC as a theoretical framework. The results indicate that class duration and size constituted the two most important factors affecting classroom communication. The volume and nature of the material taught within the class also played a significant role.
Students were disinclined to communicate with their teachers primarily because they feared the teachersí reaction if they committed errors. The research found that extensive corrective feedback on the part of the teachers inhibited students from attempting to speak up in class. Students also voiced their dissatisfied with the choice of topics during these sessions as they viewed them as irrelevant to their own cultural and social background. Thus, they had little motivation to engage in oral communication in English classes.