Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


School of Education


International and Multicultural Education


International & Multicultural Education EdD

First Advisor

Sedique Popal

Second Advisor

Susan Katz

Third Advisor

Sarah Capitelli


This present study anchored its inquiry in English oral communication and learning English as a second language. The purpose of the study was to explore the factors that influence the willingness to communicate (WTC) of ESL university students from the perspectives of both the students and their oral communication professor. Since the 1980s, WTC among ESL university students has attracted increasing attention because helping them communicate authentically is essential. WTC is correlated with overall English language proficiency because of its equal weight with the other language skills. Therefore, ESL students have targeted WTC as a vital skill. However, research on factors that influence WTC of ESL university students draws largely from the perspective of the students, with little attention to the perspective of the professors. Moreover, no research focuses on the perspectives of the ESL university students and their professor. To fill in the gap, the current study has set out to explore factors influencing the WTC of ESL university students from the perspectives of students and their professor, by means of class observations, one-on-one and focus group interviews with students, as well as a narrative interview with course professor.

The data were collected from ESL university students at the low intermediate level and their oral communication professor at a Northern California university. Thirteen out of 14 students participated in the one-on-one interviews; 11 out of the 13 students participated in the focus group interviews, along with a narrative interview with the professor. The student participants reported six factors influencing their WTC while the course professor identified four factors influencing his students' WTC. The researcher integrated the factors from the students and professor, and five themes emerged from the study, which mostly centered on the sociocultural theory and social constructivism of Vygotsky.

The results of this study have implications for the fields of second language teaching pedagogy, teacher knowledge, second language training, classroom and cultural dynamics, and research methods. More studies on factors influencing the WTC of ESL university students would improve the WTC of ESL university students coupled with an increase in English proficiency.