The current study investigated the longitudinal change of EFL learners' unwillingness to speak English. 25 Japanese university students were analyzed in terms of whether they had reduced their unwillingness to speak English after they were engaged in activities devised based on the principles of SPM (sentences per minute). Data was collected on their unwillingness to speak English before and after four weeks of instruction.
SPM is a teaching technique, developed by Mr. Stephen Soresi, to facilitate fluency in speaking. Learners work in pairs, and one person talks in English about a topic of the instructor's choice for a designated time period. The other person counts the number of sentences uttered by the conversational pair. They repeat this speaking practice by changing their pairs. Learners are instructed to aim to produce one more sentence than a previous trial. This technique was employed in the speaking class in question because this seemed a very promising way to promote students' confidence in speaking.
In this study, drawing on the literature on willingness to communicate, learners' unwillingness to speak English was deemed as a composite of anxiety, low perceived competence, and low willingness to communicate. A questionnaire was developed to target the three factors. The questionnaire was administered at two occasions: before (Time 1) and after (Time2) the instruction involving SPM, which spanned four weeks.
When the means for Time 1 and 2 were compared, Time 2 showed a lower value than Time 1. A matched-sample t test was performed with the a level at .05. The result indicated that the difference was statistically significant (t(24) = 4.01, p = .00). It shows that the participants' unwillingness to speak English was reduced.
In addition to the analysis of the mean difference, the individual scores were analyzed. Even if the mean difference is significant, it does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all the individuals have changed. For each participant, the score for Time 1 was subtracted from the score for Time 2. Reduction of the unwillingness to speak English was marked by values below zero. 19 learners (76%) were found to have lowered their unwillingness to speak English. It must be noted, however, that, contrary to the instructor's expectation, some learners showed an increase in the unwillingness to speak English.