The Speech Act of Request in the ESL Classroom

Phanithira Thuruvan, Melor Md Yunus


The Malaysian education system is at a time where effective classroom communication is seen as a vital step in enhancing the teaching and learning of English as a Second Language (ESL). Rural secondary school students in Malaysia seem to be unaware of their level of politeness when communicating in English. This study of the speech act of request which is related to the field of pragmatics and classroom culture, can be beneficial in understanding how students perceive polite interaction when speaking English. This ongoing study aims to identify the types of requeststrategies employed by the participants in making requests and explore the factors influencing their choice of strategies. The participants of the study are students and two language teachers of a rural secondary school in Kedah. Data collection was done by first recording naturally occurring data in the classroom. The data is then analysed based on Blum-Kulka and Olshstain’s (1984) CCSARP framework and Brown and Levinson’s (1987) Politeness Theory. Subsequently, participants identified are administered the Discourse Completion Tests (DCT). Preliminary findings show that students seem to be less polite when speaking to peers and more polite when speaking to teachers. Teachers, on the other hand, speak less politely to students as they have more power. This study provides valuable insights to the study of classroom pragmatics in Malaysia and future research should be conducted in urban school settings to gain more comprehensive data in this area of study.


Keywords: politeness; speech acts; requests; face threatening act (FTA); pragmatics

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