A FACE-BASED APPROACH TO THE STUDY OF LEARNERS’ AGREEMENTS AND DISAGREEMENTS IN EFL
University of Valencia, Faculty of Education (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2013 Proceedings
Publication year: 2013
Page: 1869 (abstract only)
Conference name: 7th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 4-5 March, 2013
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:This paper focuses on the shape of agreement and disagreement sequences in interactions between learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) in this language. More specifically, this study centres on these sequences in terms of face attention and face damage along the lines of Brown and Levinson’s (1987) Politeness Theory, and frameworks of face aggravating language, rudeness and impoliteness respectively (cf. Bousfield, 2007, 2008; Culpeper, 1996, 2005; Culpeper et al., 2003; Lachenicht, 1980; Kienpointner, 1997). In general and drawing on previous work by the author (cf. García-Pastor, 2006), agreement and disagreement in this paper have been understood in terms of discursive units that can convey 1) face attention in the case of agreement, and 2) face damage either by the absence of face attention when such attention is required in a specific context or deliberate face aggravation in the case of disagreement. In order to carry out this research, a series of interactions among EFL learners in the target language were audio-recorded and transcribed. These interactions constitute the data of this study and amount to a total of approximately 20 hours of ongoing talk. They consist of two-party conversations of 30 minutes duration each about different topics proposed by the researcher. An analysis of the data was then conducted taking previous work by the author and the above cited models of politeness and impoliteness phenomena as a starting point. Among the findings of this study, it was observed that learners’ agreements and disagreements in EFL adopted the shape of jointly constructed floors or “F2s” in Edelsky’s terms (1981). These were of a collaborative nature in the case of agreement, and of a combative condition in the case of disagreement. Agreement sequences were thus mainly tailored as attention to positive face or the desire to be approved of (Brown and Levinson, 1987), but also as “non-pure face attention”, which includes a face damage component (García-Pastor, 2006, 2008). Disagreement sequences, on the other hand, primarily adopted the form of “non-pure face damage” (García-Pastor, 2006, 2008), which includes a face attention element, and, to a lesser extent, damage to positive face and negative face or the desire to be unimpeded upon (Brown and Levinson, 1987). All in all, this study aims to modestly contribute to second or foreign language (L2/FL) research concerned with the teaching and learning of linguistic functions in the target language (e.g., agreeing and disagreeing in this paper), since a better understanding of how these work in L2/FL could yield more effective instructional treatments and designs for learners.
Keywords: EFL, agreement, disagreement, face attention, face damage.