An Exploration of Factors Contributing to Students’ Unwillingness to Communicate

  • Kubra Aksak Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey
  • Feryal Cubukcu Dokuz Eylul University, Izmir, Turkey
Keywords: foreign language learning, unwillingness to communicate, instructional environment, noise, atmosphere


One of the most challenging issues in language classes is the reluctance of learners to communicate. The term “unwillingness to communicate” (UWTC) is defined as a predisposition which represents a chronic tendency to avoid or devalue oral communication. The main aim of this study is to investigate the factors contributing to university level students’ unwillingness to communicate in English. The participants of this study were selected using the stratified sampling method and consist of 100 students from an English Language Teaching (ELT) Department. The data was collected through a questionnaire examining three dimensions, namely the affective factors, teacher-related factors and environmental factors underlying students’ negative communication behaviour. The results indicated that environmental factors such as rapport among students, class size, materials, noise and classroom atmosphere have the biggest effects with regard to students’ reluctance to communicate in English. On the other hand, affective factors including anxiety, shyness, lack of motivation, lack of vocabulary knowledge, lack of self-confidence, fear of being criticised, topic familiarity, peer pressure and fear of making mistakes have a second highest impact on students’ negative communication behaviour. When the items in the teacher-related category of the questionnaire were analysed in detail the results showed they ranked third most important in this context, with students attributing their reluctance to communicate to teacher attitudes, teacher pressure, lack of teacher support, lack of opportunity to speak English, and the use of the mother tongue and target language.


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How to Cite
AksakK., & CubukcuF. (2020). An Exploration of Factors Contributing to Students’ Unwillingness to Communicate. Journal for Foreign Languages, 12(1), 155-170.