March 2007
Volume 10, Number 4

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The Impact of Content and Context on International Teaching Assistants' Willingness to Communicate in the Language Classroom

Lily K.L. Compton
Iowa State University


Past studies have identified the impact of situational and enduring variables on second language (L2) learners' willingness to communicate (WTC) in the L2. This qualitative study triangulates data from two classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with four students and class instructor, and personal experiences including communication with peers to examine the impact of content and context on four international teaching assistants (ITAs)' WTC in their language class. Results suggest that ITAs are more willing to communicate when there is shared knowledge of field-specific content or if they feel confident with their L2 ability. Cultural factors and international posture were also important factors that contributed to the level of ITAs' WTC.

Keywords: ESL, EFL, intercultural communication, CALL, email, discussion, telecollaboration

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