ANALYZING POLITENESS STRATEGIES IN AN ONLINE PLATFORM FOR THAI EFL LEARNERS

Suhaila Etae, Pramela Krish, Supyan Hussin

Abstract


Thai students often face challenges in intercultural communication due to cultural differences and the lack of skills to communicate across cultural boundaries. Therefore, politeness strategies which are influenced by cultural dimensions are selectively used by Thai students to shape their linguistic presentation. This study examined the elements of Thai and Western politeness strategies and speech acts in computer-mediated communication between Thai students and their native English-speaking lecturer.  Data was collected from their online entries which was required as an assignment during the teaching and learning of the English and American Cultural Background course. Besides, interviews with the students and observations during classes were also conducted. The cultural dimensions theory by Hofstede (1980) was used to describe the elements of Thai-Western politeness. Results of the study revealed that the students preferred to use politeness strategies from Western cultural dimensions more than Thai cultural dimensions, whereas some students preferred to use a mixture of hybrid Thai-Western politeness strategies. The cultural dimension of individualism vs. collectivism was most apparent in the students’ online entries and the speech acts reflected a lot of respect for each other, which was significant in their culture. It was evident that Thai students were beginning to integrate Thai-Western politeness strategies during their interactions in the online forums with their native English-speaking lecturer. The findings clearly shared elements of cultural integration and could provide useful reference for future researchers, foreign language instructors and language teachers who are teaching English in a Thai intercultural context especially in a virtual environment.


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