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Facework in teacher-student email interactions

Journal: Russian Journal of Linguistics (Vol.28, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 243-265

Keywords : facework; im/politeness; requests; emails; teacher-student interaction;

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Two trends have become prominent in higher education worldwide. On the one hand, globalization has favored the expansion and influence of the English language. On the other hand, email has become one of the main forms of communication in academic settings, especially in teacher-student out-of-class correspondence. While these facts have increasingly attracted scholarship attention, studies in education seem to focus more on the students’ display of face(work) alone, while neglecting the teacher’s counterpart. To redress this imbalance, the present study aims to examine face(work) as displayed in students’ email requests for consideration (e.g., on late assignments submission and class attendance) and teachers’ responses. A qualitative analysis of 20 sets of teacher-student interactions reveals different strategies opted for by the students and the teacher in face(work) management. Drawing on face-constituting theory, the findings show that whilst the students are concerned with their own face alone, the teacher is concerned with how to avoid classroom conflicts in the way that attends to one’s own face, the students’ face and the classroom harmony. In this way, the management of face(work) operates in a complex and dynamic way that allows the co-construction and reaffirmation of their respective identities. For example, whilst the students’ actions overlook the relevance of the interdependence relation between them, their peers and the teacher, which is critical for the harmony of the classroom, the teacher’s actions privilege connectedness over separateness. Furthermore, the findings suggest that cultural specificities governing the backgrounds of both the teacher and the students are not always influential in the management of face in email interactions.

Last modified: 2024-06-11 18:09:32