On the Role of Willingness to Communicate and Critical Thinking in Receptive/Productive Lexical Knowledge of Gifted and Non-Gifted EFL Learners

Document Type: Research Paper


1 Shiraz university

2 Shiraz University



This study investigated the receptive and productive vocabulary command of learners based on their willingness to communicate (WTC) and critical thinking skill. The study also aimed to compare gifted and non-gifted learners in terms of the above-mentioned variables. To this end, 112 gifted and non-gifted Iranian EFL learners were picked out and given four instruments (WTC questionnaire, critical thinking skill test, receptive, and productive vocabulary tests). Having analyzed data through two-way ANOVA and independent samples t-tests, the study revealed that, first, no significant difference was found between high and low WTC learners and also high and low critical thinkers in their receptive lexical command; and second, high and low WTC learners, high and low critical thinkers, and also gifted and non-gifted learners showed significant differences in their productive lexical command. Thus, while for receptive vocabulary knowledge, giftedness is a more influential factor than WTC and critical thinking, for productive vocabulary knowledge, WTC, critical thinking, and giftedness are all influential. The pertinent theoretical and practical implications of the study will also be explicated.


Bassham, G.; Irwin, W.; Nardone, H. & Wallace, J. M. (2002). Critical thinking: A student’s introduction. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Behar-Horenstein, L. S., & Niu, L. (2011). Teaching critical thinking skills in higher education: A review of the literature. Journal of College Teaching & Learning, 8(2), 25-42.

Benjamin, A., & Crow, A. T. (2012). Vocabulary at the core: Teaching the common core Eye on Education, Inc. Larchmont, NY.  

Besançon, M. (2013). Creativity, Giftedness and Education. Gifted and talented International Journal, 28 (1), 149-161.

Brown, J. D. (2000). What is construct validity. Shiken: JALT Testing & Evaluation SIG Newsletter, 4 (2), 8-12.

Burr, V. (2003). Social constructionism (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Cao, Y. (2011). Investigating situational willingness to communicate within second language classrooms from an ecological perspective. System 39. 468–479. DOI:10.1016/j.system.2011.10.016

Cao, Y., & Philp, J. (2006). Interactional context and willingness to communicate: A comparison of behavior in whole class, group, and dyadic interaction. System 36, 480-493.

Coxhead, A. (2000). A new academic word list.  TESOL Quarterly, 34, 213- 238.

Dabbagh, A., & Janebi Enayat, M. (2019). The role of vocabulary breadth  and depth in predicting second-language descriptive writing performance. The Language Learning Journal, 47(5), 575-590, DOI:   10.1080/09571736.2017.1335765.

Ennis, R. H. (1993). Critical thinking assessment. Theory into Practice32(3), 179-186.

Ennis, R. H., Millman, J., & Tomko, T. N. (2005). Cornell critical thinking tests level X and level Z manual. CA: The Critical Thinking Co.

Fahim, M., & Komiiani, A. (2011). Critical thinking ability, L2 vocabulary knowledge, and L2 vocabulary learning strategies. Journal of English Studies 1(1), 21-38. 

Farahanynia, M., & Nassiri, M. (2016). Examining the influence of frequent appearance of unknown words and critical thinking on inferencing their meaning. International Journal of Research Studies in Language Learning, 5 (1), 43-60.

Faramarzi, S., Elekaei, A., & Heidari Tabrizi, H. (2016). Critical thinking, autonomy, and lexical knowledge of Iranian EFL learners. Theory and Practice in Language Studies, 6 (4), 875- 885. doi.org/10.17507/tpls.0604.28.

French, B. F., Hand, B., Therrien, W. J., & Valdivia Vazquez, J. A. (2012). Detection of sex differential item functioning in the Cornell Critical Thinking Test, European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 28 (3), 201–207.

Gagné, F. (2004). Transforming gifts into talents: the DMGT as a developmental theory,  High Ability Studies, 15(2), 119-147.

Ghonsooly, B., Khajavy, G.H., & Asadpour, S. F. (2012). Willingness to communicate in English among Iranian non-English major university students. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 31, 197-211.

González-Fernández, B., & Schmitt, N. (2019). Word knowledge: Exploring the relationships and order of acquisition of vocabulary knowledge components, Applied Linguistics, 40(6), 43-64.

Hennessey, B. A. (2004). Developing creativity in gifted children: The central importance of motivation and classroom climate. The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Institute of Education Sciences (ED).

Khabiri, M. & Pakzad, M. (2012). The effect of teaching critical reading strategies on EFL  learners' vocabulary retention. Journal of Teaching Language Skills (JTLS), 4(1), 73-105.

Kim, S. J. (2004). Exploring willingness to communicate in English among Korean EFL students in Korea: Willingness to communicate as a predictor of success in second language acquisition. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, The Ohio State University-The U.S.A.

Kim, S. S. (2013). Analyses of receptive and productive Korean EFL vocabulary: Computer-based vocabulary learning program. Doctoral dissertation, Arizona State University-The U.S.A.

Kırmızı, Ö., & Kömeç, F. (2019). The impact of the flipped classroom on receptive and productive vocabulary learning. Journal of Language  and Linguistic Studies, 15(2), 437-449.

Laufer, B. (1998). The development of passive and active vocabulary in a second language: same or different? Applied Linguistics, 19, 255-271.

Laufer, B., & Paribakht. S. (1998). The relationship between passive and active vocabularies: Effects of language learning context. Language Learning, 48(3), 365-391.

Lee, H. J., Lee, J., Makara, K. A., Fishman, B. J., & Hong, Y. I. (2014). Does higher education foster critical and creative learners? An exploration of two universities in South Korea and the USA. Higher Education Research & Development, 34(1), 131–146.

MacIntyre, P. D., & Charos, C. (1996). Personality, attitudes, and affect as predictors of  second language communication. Journal of Language and Social Psychology,15(1), 3-26.

MacIntyre, P. D., Clement, R. & Dornyei, Z., & Noels, K. A. (1998). Conceptualizing willingness to communicate in an L2: A situational model of L2 confidence and affiliation. The modern Language  Journal, 82, 545-562.

McCroskey, J. C. (1992). Reliability and validity of the willingness to communicate scale. Communication Quarterly, 40, 16-25.

McCroskey, J. C., & Richmond, V. P. (1987). Willingness to communicate. In J. C. McCroskey & J. A. Daly (Eds.), Personality and interpersonal communication (pp.119-131). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Min, H. T. (2008). EFL Vocabulary acquisition and retention: Reading plus vocabulary enhancement activities and narrow reading. Language Learning, 58 (1), 73–115.

Mirzai, Z. (2008). The relationship between critical thinking and lexical inferencing of Iranian EFL learners. Unpublished master's thesis, Islamic Azad University, Science and Research Branch, Tehran, Iran.

Moore, B. N. & Parker, R. (2009). Critical thinking. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Mozaffari, F. (2012). Education in hope: On the practice of critical pedagogy in Iranian postgraduate and undergraduate EFL classrooms. Unpublished Master's thesis. Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran.

Mystkowska-Wierstelak, A. (2018). Fluctuations in WTC during a semester:  A case study. The Language Learning Journal. DOI:                             10.1080/09571736.2018.1469660

Nation, P. (1990). Teaching and learning vocabulary. New York: Heinle & Heinle.

Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2008). Defining critical thinking: Concepts and tools. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Peng, J. E. (2012). Towards an ecological understanding of willingness to communicate in EFL classrooms in China. System, 40, 203–213.           doi:10.1016/j.system.2012.02.002.

Pignot-Shahov, V. (2012). Measuring L2 receptive and productive vocabulary knowledge.  Language Studies Working Papers 4. 37-45.

Raithby, K. M. (2014). Construals of giftedness in modern foreign languages in the English secondary school context. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Bath-England.

Ramos, I. D. (2014). Communicative activities: Issues on pre, during, and post challenges in South Korea’s English education. International Journal of Education Learning and Development, 2(1), 1–16.

Read, J. (2000). Assessing vocabulary. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Richards, J. C., & Renandya, W. A. (2002). Methodology in language teaching: An anthology of current practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schmitt, N. (2000). Vocabulary in language teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Schmitt, N. (2010). Researching vocabulary. A vocabulary research manual. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Schmitt, N. (2014). Size and depth of vocabulary knowledge: What the research shows. Language Learning, 64, 913-951.

Schmitt, N., & Meara, P. (1997). Researching vocabulary through a word knowledge framework: Word associations and verbal suffixes. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 20(1), 17-36.

Sharafi-Nejad, M., Raftari, Sh., Mohamed Ismail, S. A. M., & Eng, L. S (2016). Exploring the effectiveness of CT on vocabulary learning by Malaysian EFL learners. Journal of Studies in Education, 6 (2), 24-39. doi.org/10.5296/jse.v6i2.9520.

Sheikhy Behdani, R., & Rashtchi, M. (2017). The relationship between vocabulary recall and critical thinking. Journal of Teaching English Language Studies, 5 (3), 52-68.

Sternberg, R. J. (2017). ACCEL: A new model for identifying the gifted. Roeper Review, 39, 152–169.

Suksawas, W. (2011). A sociocultural study of EFL learners' willingness to communicate. Doctoral dissertation, University of Wollongong- Thailand.

Syed, H., & Kuzborska, I. (2018). Dynamics of factors underlying willingness to communicate in a second language. The Language Learning Journal, 1-20.  

Tirri, K. (2017). Teacher education is the key to changing the identification and teaching of the gifted. Roeper Review, 39(3), 210-212.

Webb, S. (2008). Receptive and productive vocabulary sizes of L2 learners. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 30(1), 79-95.

Wharton, G. (2000). Language learning strategy use of bilingual foreign language learners in Singapore. Language Learning, 50(2), 203-244.

Yashima, T. (2002). Willingness to communicate in a second language: The Japanese EFL context. The Modern Language Journal 86(1). 54-66.

Yu, G. (2010). Lexical diversity in writing and speaking task performances. Applied Linguistics,31(2), 236-259.

Yu, M. (2009). Willingness to communicate foreign language learners in a Chinese setting. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Florida State University-The U.S.A.

Zarei, A. A., & Haghgoo, E. (2012). The relationship between critical thinking and L2 grammatical and lexical knowledge. English Linguistics Research, 1(1), 104-110.

Zhong, H. F. (2012).  Multidimensional vocabulary knowledge: Development from receptive to productive use. In D. Hirsh (eds.), Current perspectives in second language research. Switzerland: Peter Lang AG, International Academic Publishers.