“My head became blank and I couldn’t speak”: Classroom factors that influence English speaking
The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics. Volume 2. Issue 3. December 2015


capacity to speak
narrative frames
classroom strategies

How to Cite

Humphries, S. C., Burns, A., & Tanaka, T. (2015). “My head became blank and I couldn’t speak”: Classroom factors that influence English speaking. The Asian Journal of Applied Linguistics, 2(3), 164–175. Retrieved from https://caes.hku.hk/ajal/index.php/ajal/article/view/230


If English as a foreign language (EFL) learners speak their target language in the classroom, it can help them to develop appropriate communication skills and facilitate their language acquisition (Goh & Burns, 2012). As a result, many Asian governments have tried to implement communicative language teaching (CLT) policies with an emphasis on using English as the medium for learning. However, the results have been mixed, often resulting in failure (Humphries & Burns, 2015). Japan is an example of this trend. Despite numerous CLT policies, classes continue to be conducted in Japanese, and student reticence to speak English is one factor blamed for this phenomenon (King, 2013). In order to explore the complexities that influence students’ capacity to speak (CTS) in English in the classroom, the authors investigated the perceptions of 104 English Department undergraduates using the “narrative frames” approach (Barkhuizen & Wette, 2008). Students were asked to report on the factors that increased and decreased their CTS in high school classrooms. Based on the findings, the authors discuss the following classroom strategies: (a) developing a supportive classroom culture, (b) setting a framework of rules, (c) introducing a variety of activities, and (d) showing empathy and flexibility to students' needs.


Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:

  1. Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication.
  2. Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.

Note: Authors are encouraged to post copies of their AJAL published papers to their own institutional or personal/professional websites along with a link to the original paper at the AJAL website. This will assist in diseminating their work as well as raising awareness of the journal.