Reticence in the EFL Classroom: Voices from Students in a Chinese University

Huashan Wu


Student reticence in the English classroom is a pervasive phenomenon in the EFL context, yet limited empirical research on reticence among Chinese university students can be found in the previous literature. This study investigated the students’ perception regarding the reasons behind their reticence. Student respondents also proposed coping strategies both from students’ and teachers’ perspectives. 144 first-year undergraduates undertaking various disciplines in a Chinese university participated in the research. Methodological triangulation involving quantitative and qualitative methods was adopted. Findings indicate that low language proficiency, foreign language anxiety, introversion and teachers’ influence are strongly related with student reticence. By employing thematic content analysis, it is found that informants may respond with self-encouragement, adequate preparation and oral practice in an attempt to produce more oral output. Meanwhile, they expect teachers to organize more speaking activities, give guidance and be amicable, which can effectively promote classroom interaction. It is hoped that the findings of this research could potentially help to address student reticence in the English classroom at the tertiary level.


Student Reticence, Chinese University Students, Reasons, Coping Strategies, Classroom Interaction

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