Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication

Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication

Margaret Murphy (Griffith University, Australia) and Cristina Poyatos Matas (Griffith University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-994-6.ch016
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

This chapter argues that politeness is an important component of e-mail language. Many people are uncertain about how to make their e-mail polite according to the norms of the receiving culture. Different views on the nature of politeness in e-mail can contribute to personal offence and online miscommunication. As a result, an instrument was designed to assess politeness in e-mail communication. The Tool-Kit, An Instrument to Assess Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication, provides a common ground among e-mail users to discuss and evaluate politeness in English e-mail communication, as well as the metalanguage necessary to reflect on the use of politeness indicators. It also provides clear guidelines to consider politeness protocols. This innovative instrument promotes a practical approach for assessing politeness in e-mail which could then assist the effective online interactions in e-learning methodologies. Its limitations are discussed here, as well as its pedagogical applications for online teaching to second language learners.
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

E-mail is an important aspect of many e-learning methodologies. Often, it is the exclusive means of communication between students and teachers in online education. Many teachers and students, however, are not trained in how to use e-mail effectively or how to manage the interpersonal dynamics of the medium. Little research has been done to date to assess how people can better communicate via e-mail.

The use of e-mail can present a communication challenge due to the lack of immediate verbal cues and feedback that we normally have in face-to-face encounters. It is harder to link our message to reference points during e-mail communication. For example, aspects of a previous discussion cannot quickly be drawn into the current e-mail or to clarify what we want to say. Moreover, we cannot use body language or voice tone to support our construction of meaning. In many cases, e-mail communication may lead to misunderstandings among those involved in constructing meaning in an online environment. Effective communication is developed and maintained by constructing meaning through dialogue (Bakhtin, 1993). The Bakhtinian notion of dialogism interaction shows the importance of building meaning through dialogue to maintain effective communication (Bakhtin, 1986, 1993). In Bakhtinian thought, all characters, writers or speakers are given voices to actively engage in dialogue with other voices. In the context of this chapter, the communication is not just the words on the screen, but the dialogue that the two writers (sender and receiver) have actively engaged in to make the meaning.

However, as Murphy (2003, 2006a, 2006b) has documented, many e-mail writers are unsure about how to attain appropriate levels of politeness in order to generate effective e-mail dialogues. Thus in e-mail communication, there is uncertainty as to appropriate levels of directness or indirectness, suitable format, and language use in an e-mail message. Many people are also unsure about selecting the appropriate level of formality or informality in an e-mail interaction in order not to offend the receiver. The choice of appropriate cultural level of formality or informality in e-mail language may also be problematic for some users. Lack of knowledge about culturally appropriate response times to e-mail requests, and how to use e-mail language to connect the receiver to the process and encourage her or him to respond may also pose a challenge to those writing or responding to an e-mail. Writing e-mails that promote effective interactions is an area that concerns native speakers as well as those writing in a second language. Uncertainty about such issues was revealed in the recent research study on intercultural e-mail communication (Murphy, 2006b).

Effective and polite e-mail communication also concerns online language teachers and students. Nowadays, there is an increasing flow of e-mail messages between second language learning students and their teachers in many universities worldwide due to an increase in computer-mediated communication (CMC) and e-learning. Geographical isolation is no longer a restraining factor in education and language learning, as tertiary institutions are able to offer language courses to anyone worldwide within a networked connection (Murphy, 2003, 2006a). The most common communication channel between teachers and their overseas students is e-mail. But the majority of the university teachers and second language learning students are not trained in how to use e-mail effectively or how to manage the interpersonal dynamics of the medium (Murphy, 2003; Walther, 1992, 1997).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset
Editorial Advisory Board
List of Reviewers
Table of Contents
Foreword
Norbert Pachler
Preface
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Acknowledgment
Rita de Cássia Veiga Marriott, Patricia Lupion Torres
Chapter 1
Pascual Pérez-Paredes, Maria Sánchez-Tornel
The research we report is a pilot study carried to test English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ reception of an electronic foreign language... Sample PDF
Understanding E-Skills in the FLT Context
$37.50
Chapter 2
Antônio Carlos Soares Martins, Junia de Carvalho Fidelis Braga
The discussions presented herein emerged from two empirical studies in progress:“Online Learning Communities in the Realm of Complexity” and “The... Sample PDF
The Emergence of Social Presence in Learning Communities
$37.50
Chapter 3
CALL as Action  (pages 39-52)
Vilson J. Leffa
The objective of this chapter is to offer a new approach for research in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL). It starts with the assumption... Sample PDF
CALL as Action
$37.50
Chapter 4
Vera Lucia Menezes de Oliveira e Paiva, Adail Sebastiao Rodrigues-Junior
This pedagogical and methodological chapter aims at contributing to increasing Web teachers’ awareness of the different ways teachers and students... Sample PDF
Investigating Interaction in an EFL Online Environment
$37.50
Chapter 5
Euline Cutrim Schmid
This chapter discusses the concept of integrated CALL by drawing upon data collected for a PhD research project that investigated the impact of... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards and the Normalization of CALL
$37.50
Chapter 6
Alexandra Okada
This chapter presents new methodologies designed to facilitate language acquisition in open learning communities via open educational resources and... Sample PDF
OpenLearn and Knowledge Maps for Language Learning
$37.50
Chapter 7
Ria Hanewald
This chapter provides an overview of the field of digital objects and repositories. It introduces the concepts of digital objects and repositories... Sample PDF
Learning Objects: Projects, Potentials, and Pitfalls
$37.50
Chapter 8
Patrica Lupion Torres, Rita de Cassia Veiga Marriott, Andreia Ferreira Ramos
This chapter presents the experience of production and use of learning objects (LOs) for English-language learning at the Pontificia Universidade... Sample PDF
English-Language Teaching with Learning Objects at PUCPR
$37.50
Chapter 9
Zhuo Li, Feng Liu, Jeff Boyer
The purpose of this chapter is to investigate the present use of e-gaming in language acquisition along with its potential and challenges. We review... Sample PDF
Amusing Minds for Joyful Learning through E-Gaming
$37.50
Chapter 10
Jowati Juhary
This chapter analyses the challenges in adapting a non-language learning courseware (NLLC) for a military learning environment. The National Defense... Sample PDF
A Non-Language Learning Courseware and its Challenges
$37.50
Chapter 11
Marcus Vinicius dos Santos, Isaac Woungang, Moses Nyongwa
The increasing importance of e-learning has been a boosting element for the emergence of Internet-based educational tools. As we move into the... Sample PDF
A Pliant-Based Software Tool for Courseware Development
$37.50
Chapter 12
Aysegül Daloglu, Meltem Baturay, Soner Yildirim
This chapter outlines how the constructivist approach can be implemented in Web-based vocabulary teaching, characteristics of effective Web-based... Sample PDF
Designing a Constructivist Vocabulary Learning Material
$37.50
Chapter 13
Yasunori Nishina
This chapter suggests an effective method for lexical studies using Moodle within the framework of data-driven learning based on parallel... Sample PDF
A Lexical Study Based on Corpora, DDL, and Moodle
$37.50
Chapter 14
Vander Viana, Sonia Zyngier
Like the advent of the telescope, computers today can provide ways of looking into language patterns that cannot be seen with the naked eye. From... Sample PDF
EFL through the Digital Glass of Corpus Linguistics
$37.50
Chapter 15
Jing Wang
This chapter introduces a series of studies carried out with intermediate learners of Chinese regarding the reading of authentic e-materials with... Sample PDF
Electronic Strategies to Improve Chinese Reading Skills
$37.50
Chapter 16
Margaret Murphy, Cristina Poyatos Matas
This chapter argues that politeness is an important component of e-mail language. Many people are uncertain about how to make their e-mail polite... Sample PDF
Politeness in Intercultural E-Mail Communication
$37.50
Chapter 17
Neny Isharyanti
Studies in computer-mediated communication (CMC) have shown that it has the potential to provide opportunities for ESL learners to actively... Sample PDF
Interactional Modifications in Internet Chatting
$37.50
Chapter 18
Sedat Akayoglu, Arif Altun
This chapter aims at describing the patterns of negotiation of meaning functions in text-based synchronous computer-mediated communication by using... Sample PDF
The Functions of Negotiation of Meaning in Text-Based CMC
$37.50
Chapter 19
Esrom Adriano Irala, Patrica Lupion Torres
This chapter belongs to the context of the computer-mediated communication (CMC) for language teaching and learning. Since the introduction of this... Sample PDF
The Use of the CMC Tool AMANDA in the Teaching of English
$37.50
Chapter 20
Christine Rosalia, Lorena Llosa
This chapter reports on an instrument that was developed to formatively assess the quality of feedback that second language students give to one... Sample PDF
Assessing the Quality of Online Peer Feedback in L2 Writing
$37.50
Chapter 21
Betty Rose Facer, M’hammed Abdous, Margaret M. Camarena
As part of an initiative to enhance the humanities’ use of emerging technologies, the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at Old... Sample PDF
The Impact of Academic Podcasting on Students' Learning Outcomes
$37.50
Chapter 22
Mahieddine Djoudi
The use of the mobile devices in language learning has been developed at a very high speed in the last years. Thus, we are witnessing many research... Sample PDF
Listening Comprehension of Languages with Mobile Devices
$37.50
Chapter 23
Huw Jarvis
This chapter reports on a quantitative study that examines how language students make use of an extensive range of computer-based materials (CBMs)... Sample PDF
Computers and Independent Study: Student Perspectives
$37.50
Chapter 24
Renata Chylinski, Ria Hanewald
This chapter reports on a study undertaken on the impact of pedagogical and technological innovations in language teaching and language learning... Sample PDF
Creating Supportive Environments for CALL Teacher Autonomy
$37.50
Chapter 25
Mar Gutiérrez-Colon Plana
Many language teachers, students, and institutions of virtual learning environments are well acquainted with the feelings of loneliness and... Sample PDF
Frustration in Virtual Learning Environments
$37.50
Chapter 26
Sarah Guth, Corrado Petrucco
This chapter describes how the social software tools that characterize Web 2.0, such as wikis and blogs, can be used as a valid substitute for more... Sample PDF
Social Software and Language Acquisition
$37.50
Chapter 27
Bryan Carter, Dayton Elseth
Within academia, distance learning as an approach to education has its share of skeptics. Regardless of how some feel about the methodology, it has... Sample PDF
The Usefulness of Second Life for Language Learning
$37.50
Chapter 28
Irene Mamakou
Interest in the integration of language learning with knowledge/content construction is growing around the world. In this line, an instructional... Sample PDF
Project-Based Instruction for ESP in Higher Education
$37.50
Chapter 29
Ma Camino Bueno Alastuey
The adaptation to the European Space of Higher Education and to the new demands of the labor market has produced a shift in university education... Sample PDF
WebCT Design and Users' Perceptions in English for Agriculture
$37.50
Chapter 30
Heli Simon, Päivö Laine, Ann Seppänen, Ana Barata, Carlos Vaz de Carvalho
This chapter presents the tutoring methodology adopted in an e-learning language course for students in vocational training and higher education as... Sample PDF
The LAFEC Experience for Language Skills Acquisition
$37.50
Chapter 31
Christian Swertz, Rosa Schultz, Katharina Toifl
This chapter reports the concept development and evaluation results from the project LANCELOT (LANguage learning with CErtified Live Online... Sample PDF
Language Teaching in Live Online Environments
$37.50
Chapter 32
Astrid Gesche
This chapter provides a basis for thinking about the dynamics and boundaries of foreign language learning in virtual learning communities of the... Sample PDF
Adapting to Virtual Third-Space Language Learning Futures
$37.50
Chapter 33
Chaka Chaka
This chapter explores aspects of portable handheld language learning that are likely to benefit many mobile assisted language learning (MALL)... Sample PDF
Portable Handheld Language Learning from CALL MALL to PALL
$37.50
About the Contributors