Shyness and EFL learning in Taiwan : a study of shy and non-shy college students' use of strategies, foreign language anxiety, motivation, and willingness to communicate

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Chu, Hsiang-ning Rebecca, 1974-

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In the Western view, shyness has long been perceived as an undesirable personality trait that may interfere with one's interpersonal interactions and adversely affect life satisfaction. However, shyness is viewed differently in Chinese cultures. In Chinese society, individuals are encouraged to restrain personal desires in the interest and wellbeing of the greater good. Given the cultural endorsement of internalized self-control, shy children in Chinese culture are favored for their seeming social competence and selfdiscipline; they are well-liked by their peers and teachers, and considered socially fit. Among the variables that influence L2 strategy choice and use, personality type and motivation are two critical predictors, whereas foreign language anxiety and willingness to communicate often influence learners' performance in L2 communication. This study examined the interrelationship among shyness, L2 learning strategy use, L2 learning motivation, foreign language anxiety, and willingness to communicate. Participants were 364 students enrolled in either Freshman English or Sophomore English courses in a private university in Taipei. They were asked to fill out self-report questionnaires about their global shyness, strategy use and motivation regarding their English studies, the degree of foreign language anxiety they experienced in their current English class, and their willingness to communicate in both Chinese and English contexts. Results indicated that non-shy students reported using strategies more often across all strategy types than their shy counterparts, with compensation strategies being used the most often, and social strategies the least often. In addition, results from a series of hierarchical multiple regressions showed that intrinsic motivation to know appears to be the most important predictor among all motivation regulations for all students' use of most of the strategies. Results also indicated that shyness, foreign language anxiety, and willingness to communicate in both Chinese and English were correlated. Students who reported experiencing more foreign language anxiety in their English class showed less willingness to communicate in both Chinese and English. Moreover, shyness and foreign language anxiety had a moderate positive correlation. Implications for research and practice are discussed.