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Willingness to Communicate in English as a Foreign Language of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing University Students

Ph.D. Ewa Domagała-Zyśk



Research on deaf and hard of hearing students learning and using foreign languages has started not so long ago - in the first years of the 21st century. So far the main topics of it revolved mainly around issues of grammar and vocabulary, reading, writing and speaking acquisition, difficulties experienced by students during this process and strategies of overcoming the possible problems. Some of the personality characteristics, like motivation and learning style were also investigated. In the background of each of these research a conclusion might be visible that a foreign language is best acquired within the context of an interaction. It implies the fact that greater attention of both scientists and practitioners should be devoted to active usage of the target language, be it in class or in the more naturalistic setting. The key factor guaranteeing a success is the students’ willingness to start and maintain a conversation in a foreign language.
Willingness to communicate is by some of the researchers understood as the main goal of language instruction and defined as “the probability of engaging in communication when free to choose to do so” McCroskey & Baer, 1985). Thus, it can be treated as a psychological readiness to use a second language and understood as something different from objective linguistic competence. Formally speaking, willingness to communicate is observed as a certain type of communication behavior, but this act can be described as a multi-layered one. It is implied by the intention to perform a certain behavior, usually in a specified interpersonal and situational context. This results from motivational, affective and cognitive propensities, such as self confidence, interpersonal motivation, group motivation, attitudes, communication competence, intergroup climate and personality (cf. J. R. MacDonald, R. Clément, P.
D. MacIntyre 2012).
The issue of willingness to communicate is of an utmost importance in forming and assessing linguistic competence in a foreign language of the deaf and hard of hearing English as a second language students. It happens more than often that even if they master English grammar and vocabulary, they feel very much reluctant to use a foreign language as a means of communication. It is probably connected with some personality features, lack of self confidence and unfavorable social attitudes and prejudices.
In the present paper the results of research on the deaf and hard of hearing university students willingness to communicate will be presented and analyzed. The research group consisted of 22 deaf and hard of hearing Polish and Czech participants of a workshop English as a tool of international communication, conducted at KUL university in Lublin within the program Network of Expert Centers Providing Inclusion in Tertiary Education- ExpIn. The control groups consisted of 20 hearing students and 20 deaf and hard of hearing students who did not participated in the workshop. The method included a questionnaire checking the students’ involvement and motivation to participate in English as a foreign language classes and a questionnaire checking their willingness to communicate. The results were analyzed statistically, showing high level of willingness to communicate among the research group of students for whom the workshop mentioned served as a supporting communication environment.
Willingness to communicate should be treated as one of major factors facilitating the process of teaching and learning English as a foreign language for the deaf and hard of hearing subjects. Bothe language teachers and administrators should pay more attention to develop this characteristics among the students and organize supporting communication environment for students to practice their language competence.
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Umiejętności polskich studentów z uszkodzeniami słuchu w zakresie posługiwania się mówioną formą języka angielskiego. W: Kutek-Składek Student z niepełnosprawnością w środowisku akademickim. Wydawnictwo Sw. Stanisława BM, s. 134-157.
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Trudności osób niesłyszących w zakresie opanowania systemu leksykalnego i składniowego języka angielskiego jako obcego i strategie pokonywania tych trudności. W: Z. Palak, D. Chimicz, A. Pawlak (red.). Wielość obszarów we współczesnej pedagogice specjalnej. Lublin: Wydawnictwo UMCS, 361-382.
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Podstawowe trudności osób niesłyszących w opanowaniu pisowni języka obcego i ich kompensowanie. W: K. Krakowiak, A. Dziurda-Multan Ku wspólnocie komunikacyjnej niesłyszących i słyszących. Lublin: Wydawnictwo KUL, 149-162.
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Kompetencje uczniów niesłyszących i słabosłyszących w zakresie posługiwania się językiem angielskim w szkołach podstawowych, gimnazjach i szkołach ponadgimnazjalnych, „Neofilolog” (Czasopismo Polskiego Towarzystwa Neofilologicznego), 36 (Niezwykły uczeń – indywidualne potrzeby edukacyjne w nauce języków obcych, red. K. Karpińska-Szaj), s. 91–110.
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Style uczenie preferowane przez niesłyszących uczestników lektoratu języka obcego. W M. Białas (red.) Specjalne potrzeby niepełnosprawnych. Kraków: Arson, s. 243-260.
McCroskey, J. C., & Baer, J. E. (1985).
Willingness to communicate: The construct and its measurement. Paper presented at the annual convention of the Speech Communication Association, Denver, CO, in: J. R. MacDonald, R. Clément, P. D. MacIntyre (2012). Willingness to Communicate in a L2 in a Bilingual Context: A Qualitative Investigation of Anglophone and Francophone Students; manuscript.


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