E Peng. Multilingual Matters

Book Review, Carly Ng, Yor-Ling
2016 The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics   unpublished
Chinese students are generally portrayed in the literature as reticent and quiet in class. The main reasons given for such reluctant or even non-participation in the classroom include the influence of traditional Chinese values (Cortazzi & Jin, 1996), the teacher-centred class mode predominant in the Chinese education system (Liu & Littlewood, 1997) and a collection of other factors such as students' communication confidence, motivation and the classroom environment. These factors, however, are
more » ... ctors, however, are often researched separately. The novelty of the study Jian-E Peng discusses in this book lies in its aim to account for Chinese EFL learners' willingness to communicate (WTC) with an ecological model, taking into consideration myriad factors both from the teachers' and the students' perspectives. WTC, albeit a relatively new research focus in the field of second language acquisition, has become increasingly extensively studied in the past decade (Kang, 2005; MacIntyre, 2007; Wen & Clement, 2003; Yashima, 2002). Peng has chosen to investigate WTC in the context of China, and very rightly so, as there is a very large number of EFL students in Chinese universities where English is a compulsory subject even for non-English majors. The research findings reported in this book will, therefore, have implications for those students and, perhaps more importantly, their English teachers. Peng used a large-scale mixed-methods approach in her investigation of the interrelationships between WTC, confidence, motivation, beliefs and environment, making use of triangulation of different quantitative and qualitative findings. She has outlined her methodological processes in meticulous detail which builds reader confidence in her findings and provides a blueprint for the inevitable replication studies that will follow. Although the subject matter and content are complex and the intricate relationships lying within are manifold, Peng depicts the context clearly and lays out her analyses in simple yet effective language, showing with clarity the depth and breadth of her research project. Despite dealing with a large quantity of research data, Peng has succeeded in adding to the credibility of her insights by establishing the trustworthiness of her qualitative findings through trajectory triangulation and thick descriptions in the form of observations, interviews, and journals. In the study described in this book, Peng designed the classroom environment as a central variable. Given this centrality, it would have added value to the research if more careful thought had been put into selecting focal subjects in regard to the class mode. An observation scheme detailing class communication activities and student responses (p. 96) has been adopted, suggesting that the different tasks selected by the teacher have