Making Complaints—Proficiency Effects on Instructor- and Peer-directed Email Correspondence
Journal of Language Teaching and Research
Computer-mediated communication tools have allowed users to interact across geographical and temporal borders. Among them, emails are extensively used for communicative, pedagogical, and social purposes, but relatively little research attention has been paid to the social interaction or speech styles in them. This study explored complaint strategies and discourse features, focusing on supportive moves and internal modifiers, of instructor-and peer-directed emails produced by English learners of
... English learners of low and intermediate levels, with each group being consisted of twenty-two participants. The results showed that the two groups were similar in complaint strategies used towards the instructor and peers by preferring explicit complaints and also in the production of significantly more supportive moves and downgraders towards the instructor to reduce the face threat. Nonetheless, justification, preferred by the intermediate learners as a supportive move, offered a legitimate stance to complain and appeared to make emails more appropriate and more effective to appease the addressee's unhappiness than the sole use of formulaic expressions of politeness, utilized most often by the low learners. This study suggested that whereas the low learners were still at the first phase of the interlanguage development characterized by the use of simple formulas, the intermediate learners had slightly moved forward.