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A Comparison of Chinese and American Student Academic Email Requests to Faculty in Higher Education in the United States

Abstract

To explore email request patterns in the institutional context of university settings, this study combines speech act research with conversation analysis methods to examine how native speakers of American English and native speakers of Chinese formulate email requests to faculty. 100 authentic email requests sent by Chinese and American students who studied in a U.S. university was collected. The methodology of conversation analysis was used to investigate how imposition level of emails and senders’ entitlement to make the request affect students’ language choices. The findings demonstrate that Chinese students have some pragmatic infelicities in their email requests, such as underuse of internal and external modifications for high-imposition requests, presenting request head acts at the beginning of emails, and pre-assuming that the requestee would grant the request. This study finally offers pedagogical implications for teaching email requests to English learners. This study contributes to our understanding of the requestive patterns of Chinese and American students as well as the similarities and differences between emails written by American students and those written by Chinese students. It contributes to the field of cross-cultural pragmatic studies on the speech act of request by L2 speakers.

Keywords

second language pragmatics, email requests, Chinese as a Second Language learners

How to Cite

Jia, H., (2023) “A Comparison of Chinese and American Student Academic Email Requests to Faculty in Higher Education in the United States”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 29.

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Authors

Hanyu Jia (University of Arizona)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

Peer Review

This article has been peer reviewed.

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