The Influence of Ambiguity Tolerance on Willingness to Communicate in L2

  • Ewa Piechurska-KucielEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


The main purpose of this chapter is to find empirical evidence for the role of ambiguity tolerance (AT) in shaping one’s L2 willingness to communicate levels in the context of the English-as-a-foreign-language (EFL) classroom, in the Polish educational context. As the pyramid model of L2 WTC proposes (MacIntyre et al., 1998), AT’s basis is constituted by the most distal and enduring influences of personality. For this reason, ambiguity tolerance, conceived of as a personality variable (Furnham and Marks, 2013), can have a significant impact on L2 WTC. The complexity of interrelated mechanisms embedded in the foreign language learning context induce ambivalent feelings of being simultaneously willing and unwilling to communicate (MacIntyre et al., 2011). On the one hand, learners are conscious of the importance of practising communication skills, but, on the other they, are afraid of losing face in front of the teacher and peers. For this reason, it can be expected that higher AT levels are likely to induce greater L2 WTC. As this research demonstrates, L2 WTC can mostly be predicted by language anxiety and self-perceived FL skills, while one’s AT levels, though statistically significant, constitute a minor predictor of L2 WTC. These results can mostly be attributed to the nature of the key variables, as well as the specificity of the foreign language learning process.


Ambiguity tolerance Willingness to communicate Personality English as a foreign language Language anxiety Self-perceived competence 


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OpoleOpolePoland

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