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FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies


Pragmatics is the branch of linguistics that deals with what is beyond the semantic

interpretation in relation to time, place and culture (Li, 2008). It focuses on analyzing and

understanding the human language with regard to the experiences and environment of the

listener. The ability to understand pragmatics is essential in communicating with people

who have different cultures and interpersonal interactions as it will guide the speaker to

carry the communicative intention and to grasp the message as it is intended by other

speakers. Pragmatics also includes what is said; how is it said; what the body of language

is; and how appropriate it is to the given situation (Hill, 2008).

Austin’s Speech Act Theory is a subfield of pragmatics which involves the

utterances of the speaker and the hearer. He mentioned that while communicating, there

are three processes that may be employed by the speaker: 1.) Locution - what we say; 2.)

illocution - what we mean when we say it; and 3.) perlocution - what we accomplish by

saying it (Neill, 2012).

In illocutionary speech acts, Searle (1969) explained that there are five

classifications: 1.) assertive - the speech act that commit a speaker into expressing the

truth, e.g. reciting a creed; 2.) directive - the speech act that are to cause the hearer a

particular action, e.g. request or command; 3.) commissive - where the speaker commits

into some future action, e.g. promise, oaths or threats; 4.) expressive - is the speech act

that expresses the speaker's attitude or emotions such as saying thank you; and
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

5.) declarative - the speech act that changes the reality in accordance with preposition of

declaration, e.g. baptism or marriage.

Politeness plays an important role in communication as it serves as the ethical

standard in social interactions (Fang, Lingling and Liu, 2014). Man’s civilization is

viewed as a symbol of Politeness (Al-Azzawi, 2011). The language used is more polite

when the social distance is greater due to the power of either of the interactors (Destura-

Madriaga, 2007). Alongside, researchers such as Brown and Levinson developed the

Politeness Theory in the late 1970’s out of the Speech Act Theory (Neill, 2012). They

defined politeness strategy as the tendency to choose the words or utterances being

produced to avoid harming or threatening the public image of the other party (Birner,

2013). The idea of politeness strategy also helps in interpreting why people say the

things in particular way (written or spoken). Moreover in 1987, Brown and Levinson

stated that in social interaction sensibility of the face must be shown and acknowledged.

Politeness Strategies was developed to avoid Face Threatening Acts (FTAs).

FTAs are acts that neglect the hearer’s sense of being respected (Patriage, n.d).

Consequently, these FTAs are unavoidable, so speakers can settle an FTA with negative

politeness that respects the hearer's negative face or with positive politeness with respect

to the hearer's positive face. Negative face is where the person desires to be autonomous,

free and not imposed by others. On the other hand, positive face is where a person needs

to be accepted and liked by others (Brown and Levinson, 1987).

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

In addition, Brown and Levinson (1987) explained that politeness strategies are

used to maintain a balance protection of the negative and positive face in social

interactions. Politeness has four strategies:

1.) Off-record or indirect strategy which is considered as the most polite because

it respects the hearer's possession and not imposed something. This strategy

includes the following: a.) giving hints, giving association clues, presupposing,

understating, overstating, using tautologies, using contradictions, showing irony,

using metaphors, and rhetorical questions; b.) showing ambiguity and vagueness,

over-generalizing, displacing the hearer, and being incomplete and using of


2.) Negative politeness strategy, a strategy that presumes the speaker will be

imposing on the listener such as a.) being conventionally indirect; b.) giving

questions and hedges; c.) being pessimistic; d.) minimizing the imposition; e.)

giving deference; f.) apologizing; g.) impersonalizing the speaker and hearer; h.)

stating the FTA as a general rule; i.) Nominalize; and j.) Going on record as

incurring a debt.

3) Positive politeness, a strategy that is used to make the hearer feel good about

themselves, their interests or possessions, and are most usually used in situations

where the audience knows each other fairly well such as; a.) noticing or attending

the hearer; b.) exaggerating, c.) intensifying the interest to the hearer, d.) using in-

group identity markers, e.) seeking agreement, f.) avoiding disagreement,

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

g.) presupposing, h.) joking, i.) asserting S’s knowledge of and concern for H’s

wants, j.) offering and promising, k.) being optimistic, l.) including both S and H

in the activity, m.) giving or asking for reason, n.) assuming or asserting

reciprocity, and o.) give gifts to H.

4.) Bald on-record, a strategy does not attempt to minimize the threat to the

hearer's face (pgs. 94-227). Thus, the less direct we are, the more polite we seem

to be.

Salvesen (2015) emphasized the politeness strategies found in requests made by

Norwegian speakers and native speakers of English. She interviewed three English L2

speakers and three native speakers of English. The interview was used through role-play

and conducted through face to face or via Skype, in order to record the participants. The

gathering of data took ten to twenty minutes for the participants to get through the

scenarios. With the data being analyzed, Salvesen mentioned that politeness strategies

can transfer from the learners’ first language to their target language.

Another study conducted in American University in Cairo by Soheim (2014),

showed that American participants used slightly fewer positive politeness strategies in the

classroom than their Egyptian colleagues. In contrast, the American teachers who

participated in the study employed more negative politeness strategies compared to the

Egyptian instructors. The data were collected through classroom observation and four

interviews. The participants were five Americans and five Egyptians teaching in

undergraduate Rhetoric and Composition department at an American university in Egypt.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

The findings of the study implied the potential usefulness of offering insightful

seminars and workshops high lighting the cultural differences and similarities to new

teachers, who might have a different cultural background from their students’.

Meanwhile, Elmianvari and Kheirabadi (2013) agreed that politeness strategies

are appropriate to collect data from EFL students attending language institute in Belgium.

The data was analyzed through Email of the students from their teacher as a class activity

and made a request in an applicable and polite form. Since the analysis was not an

absolute objective one, it could be concluded that most of the students expressed their

requests in a polite, formal and indirect way through long sentences as an attempt to save

the negative face.

In the study of Sulu (2015) in an EFL class, he observed and tape-recorded one

EFL class in a Turkish university wherein the foreign teacher was not familiar with

Turkish culture yet and had been teaching the students for 6 months. The class interaction

lasted for two hours and three chosen random students were interviewed after. With the

data analyzed, Sulu then stated that if politeness strategy is present inside the classroom,

it would promote peace and harmony, and mutual understanding between students and

teachers. It may also contribute to more effective learning and friendly environment.

Furthermore, Senowarsito (2013), also added that politeness is the first step in

personal and social development. He observed and video-recorded two 90-minute

expressions of both the teachers and students. He then analyzed the data based
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

on the English class lessons in 11th graders of a state senior high school in Semarang,

Indonesia with 59 students in different classes. The focus of the study was only the verbal

model analysis introduced by Spradley (1980) and the results showed that the perception

of teacher and students on the age gap, social distance, institutional setting, power and the

students’ limitation on their linguistic ability has a contribution in choosing different

politeness strategies.

Meanwhile, the study of Hadidi and Monsefi (2015), presented that male and

female teachers’ conversational traits towards the students is different, and there is a

primary connection between using more polite strategies and learning process and

interaction between teachers and students. The data was gathered through using

questionnaires and observing and tape-recording five male and female teachers with 10

classes in 30 class sessions. The data was then analyzed in two steps: determining valid

responses from participants, and identifying the utterances of disagreement in responses

using Muntigl and Turnbull’s taxonomy. The participants were 90% Turkish L1 speakers

however, the study was conducted in a major language institute in Tabriz, Iran and

English was only used as a medium.

In West China University, another study conducted by Fang, Linling and Liu

(2014), showed that in an EFL class, positive and negative strategies are most used in the

classroom. However, there was more emphasis on using the positive politeness strategy.

The data was gathered in two 45- minutes’ classes of one teacher through observation and

video recording. The classes were non-participatory class with 30 freshmen students
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

majoring in computer science and the data was analyzed using the method of Jiang

Xiaoqing (2010). The results then showed that the teacher used the positive strategy by

associating the virtue that the teachers and students always cooperate with each other. In

such manner, questions and hedges were also used to avoid imposition and maintaining

the student’s face. This has favored the study of Sulu that using politeness strategies

could lead to more comfortable language learning environment.

In the Philippines, selected classes in four educational institutions were observed

as conducted by Victoria (2012). Its purpose was to investigate how the social

relationship between students and teachers were developed through conversations. This

was done by audio-recording 25 hours classroom interaction, with 12 hours from MA

classes and the rest from undergraduate classes and focusing only to three lecturers. The

data was also analyzed through illustrative examples. With this, it has showed that

positive politeness strategies were consistently used by teachers which was even evident

during asking request or giving orders, correcting mistakes and expressing disapprovals.

Teachers used this to enhance their social relationships to the students, encourage them to

participate in classroom discussions and to avoid FTAs. This has also implied that

teachers were the authority in the classroom and by minimizing FTAs, students would

cooperate and obey them. Thus, balancing the teaching objectives and peaceful relations

in the classroom is the main reason why there is a consistent use of positive politeness

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Another study on politeness was by Destura-Madriaga (2007) wherein she

examined the politeness in the Teacher's directives whereas it includes the types of

directives that were preferred and mostly used by the teachers. The participants were

college professors who were enrolled in a doctoral degree program or were already

doctoral degree holders. These teachers were grouped into two: One, for those with 14.3

years of teaching experience; and two, with 8.3 average years of teaching. The data was

gathered through the use of questionnaire focusing on the teachers’ commands in the 11

different classroom situations. As a result, the mitigated forms or the less threatening acts

were the most preferred by the teachers to use. And therefore made the conclusion that,

the power of the teacher was considered to be linked in using fierce or threatening


In the meantime, Aporbo (2014), showed Face-threatening acts among Filipino

interactants. The participants were from the demonstrating teacher and students of

English -28 (The Teaching of literature of USEP) in Tagum - Mabini Campus. The

interaction from the verbal exchanges in both non-academic discussions were analyzed

and explained based on the Politeness Theory - Face Threatening. With this, three

principles in language were shown: first, the pragmatic principle of face affection that all

speech acts and all utterances affect both speakers and hearer’s face; second, pragmatic

principle of face threat that all non-impolite speech acts as well as polite speech acts

threaten in S’s and H’s faces and third pragmatic principle of face invasion that all rude

speech acts invade in S’s and H’s faces.


FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Likewise, Ambuyo, Indede and Karanja (2011) examined the politeness in the

context of politics during question time discussions of the Kenyan Parliament. They

proceed to the question time sessions which is live televised within a month of April and

May 2009 were recorded, transcribed and sampled for analysis. This was done using a

theoretical framework encompassing positive, negative, and image repair politeness

strategies. The findings show that certain strategies are used to mitigate FTAs thus

enhancing effective communication; others are a ritual requirement by the standing

orders whereas others are as a result of mere politics between the different political


Moreover, Chen’s study (2017) entitled Face-Threatening Acts: Conflict between

a Teacher and Students in EFL Classroom, wherein, one female EFL teacher of the junior

high school and her 49 EFL students participated in the study. Through the use of

observation in the class, the teacher interview and gave students’ questionnaires which

included, 38 threatening acts and 4 main threat types (indirect threats, indirect accusation,

direct threats with modified blame, and direct threats with explicit blame) were noted.

The factors affecting the teacher’s use of threatening acts and students’ responses and

opinions toward the teacher’s use of threats were discussed. The pedagogical implications

were provided at the end of the study.

All of the studies above have shown that politeness strategies were more likely to be used

by teachers and the main reason for this was to develop friendly classroom environment

and social relationships. However, because of the differences in some aspects either
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

the purpose, participants, or the method used to analyze the data, the results were

affected. For instance, the study of Hadidi and Mosefi (2015) which focused on

comparing the male and female teachers’ politeness strategies have given the result that

the gender affects the kind of trait the teachers have to the students.

With this, the researchers decided to conduct such kind of study to determine

whether the related studies above will show the same findings to the classroom

interaction of selected FEU English teachers.

The related literatures have contributed insights and interpretations to the present

study. Moreover, it has appeared that there is a gap, and there is no further study about

politeness strategy of the teachers in Far Eastern University (FEU).

The purpose of this study is to determine the politeness strategies used by the

English teachers in Far Eastern University. Specifically, the researchers sought to answer

the following questions:

1) What are the politeness strategies employed by the teachers?

2) What are the face-threatening acts committed by the teachers inside the


This study analyzed the politeness strategies used by the English teachers in FEU

which may benefit the students, teachers and future researchers. (1) Students, to be aware

that there are different functions on every utterance that their teacher may provide, (2)

Teachers, to be extra careful in assessing and giving the right speech acts to the students
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

based on the politeness strategies, and to be able to get the students' attention and desired

outcomes during the class, (3) Future Researchers, to get facts and pieces of evidences

about politeness principles used in teaching and learning process. This study can serve as

a reference in doing relevant studies.


This section deals with the methods used in the study. It includes explanation of

the research design, locale and respondents of the study, instrument used, data gathering

and data analysis procedure.

Research Design

The researchers utilized mixed method, the quantitative and qualitative method.

Mixed method is a research design that involves theoretical hypothesis to guide the

direction of the collection and analysis of data and the mixture of qualitative and

quantitative data in a single study. The central premise is that the use of quantitative and

qualitative approaches in combination provides a better understanding of research

problems (Creswell and Plano Clark, 2007).

The researchers used quantitative method to identify the frequencies of FTA’s and

politeness strategies of the teachers. Also, qualitative method was used to provide an in-

depth explanation and analysis of the teacher’s FTA’s accompanied with Politeness


FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Furthermore, through combination of both data, the researcher will understand

and justify the depth and extent of the study, while balancing the characteristics of each


Research Locale

The study was conducted in Far Eastern University-Manila, specifically, in the

Institute of Arts and Sciences (IAS), English Department. Hence, the researchers chose

FEU-IAS as the research locale because of the availability of the participants for the

study. Likewise, as it is none cost-efficient and convenient.

Participants of the Study

The purpose of this study was to identify the politeness strategies employed by

the teachers inside the classroom. Therefore, the researchers chose Three English

Professors in the Institute of Arts and Sciences in the English department who agreed to

be video-taped and voice recorded.

First participant completed her Master’s Degree in Language and Literature at De

LaSalle University (DLSU); second participant finished her Master of Arts in Language

and Literature at Ateneo De Manila University (ADMU) at the same time a lawyer; and

the third participant completed her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction at Far

Eastern University. All of the participants were teaching language in the university for

more than fifteen years.


FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Consequently, the researchers selected the English Professors, since, they are in

the university for more than fifteen years and have been teaching language for a long

time. Thus, they have enough experience in teaching, moreover, they are skilful and

proficient in terms of language.

Research Instrument

The researchers employed video recording of the class proceedings for one period

along with classroom observation. They utilized a DSLR canon camera for video-taping

and an Oppo-F1S for voice recording.

After the gathering of data, the researchers transcribed and analyzed the data (see

Appendix B) which were validated by two experts in Linguistics (see Appendix C). There

were only two who validated the instrument since there was no more available professor

adequate in that particular field of linguistics.

Data Gathering Procedure

The researchers provided an approval letter that was given to the head of English

Department of Institute of Arts and Sciences for the validation and approval of the study

(see Appendix A). As the department head approved the conduct of the class observation,

the researchers started to approach chosen teachers in person to be participants in the

study. When the contacted teachers approved to be observed, video-taped and voice

recorded for an entire period of 1 hour and 30 minutes, the researchers provided each
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

participant a consent form (see Appendix D) that was filled out before the observation

and video recording started.

The researchers asked the teachers for their available time and schedule for the

class observation. They also asked permission if they would allow them to video-tape the

entire class. After the teacher gave their available dates, the researchers have set the date

and time they would conduct the class observation.

On the day of observation, the researchers were early to arrive in the classroom to

be able to set up all the equipment needed for the video recording. The recording started

from the beginning of the class until the end of the class period. All researchers were

present during the data gathering procedure.

Data Analysis Procedure

After gathering all the necessary information, the researchers made a verbatim

transcription from the video-taped and voice recorded data (see Appendix E). The study

employed quantitative and qualitative method, wherein descriptive statistics and content

were used. The data was then, analyzed and organized to distinguish the speech acts and

label each utterance into direct or indirect. The succeeding step was to separate all the

utterance from FTA’s and NFTA’s. Then lastly, identified the politeness strategies used

by each participant (see Appendix B).

The utterances were numbered according to when it was uttered to serve as the coding

system of the participants. Teacher 1or participant 1 is T1; teacher 2 is T2; and
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

teacher 3 is T3. The numbers beside T1, T2 and T3 were the numbered utterances of each

teacher. For instance, T1.81 means the 81st utterance of teacher 1. Moving on, the

analyzed data was then validated by experts in Linguistics (see Appendix C). Next,

quantitative method was utilized to determine the frequency and percentage distribution

of FTA’s and politeness strategies of the teachers. Then, a descriptive method was

employed to comprehensively explain each frequency of FTA’s and Politeness Strategies

provided in the tables.

Results and Discussion

This section presents the results in a form of tables and extends the findings with

examples of different utterances. The analyzed data were split into two parts in the results

section of the study: the politeness strategies and the face threatening acts.

I. Politeness Strategies

Table 1 presents the allotment of percentages of politeness strategies in each


Table 1

Frequency of the Politeness Strategies used by the Teachers

Participants Indirect Positive Negative Bald- Number Of
On Utterances
Teacher 1 (T1) 17 (16%) 31 (29%) 6 (6%) 52 (49%) 106

Teacher 2 (T2) 11 (8%) 21 (15%) 37 (27%) 70 (50%) 139

Teacher 3 (T3) 13 (10%) 38 (30%) 26 (21%) 50 (39%) 127

Total 41 (11%) 90 (24%) 69 (19%) 172(46%) 372

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Teacher 1(T1) has 106 total numbers of utterances which are distributed in the

four types of politeness strategies. T1 preferably give utterances in form of direct

imposition or the bald on-record strategy which was 49% out of all his utterances. While

negative politeness was the least strategy observed in the utterances which only has 6

percent distribution. Positive politeness places second highest strategy employed which is

29 percent. Lastly, indirect or off-record strategy has 16 percent (see Table 1).Below are

the examples:

A. Positive politeness strategy

T1.81. “So nice handwriting!”

The utterance above is considered positive politeness strategy since the teacher

(speaker) compliments the student’s (hearer) penmanship. In this situation, the teacher

asked all of the students to write their answers on the board in which he had noticed the

penmanship of the student as soon as the discussion started. This supports the statement

of Brown and Levinson (1987) that such kind of utterances which tends to notice the

student’s skill is called positive politeness strategy.

T1.88. “Everybody, that’s good.”

This statement is also an example of using positive politeness strategies since the

teacher commends the students’ work on the activity given to them. The teacher used the

word, “Everybody” as an in-group identity marker in expressing her pleasure to the

output of the students. The utterance achieved the hearer’s want to be liked or praised.
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

The study of Al-Azzawi (2011) claims the statements above that whenever a speaker

compliments the hearer; she informs them through expressing her appreciation.

B. Negative politeness strategy

T1.15. “Just to refresh our ancient minds in the case of forgetting, we're

not really going to move on in new lesson.”

The use of negative politeness strategies is present in the utterance because the

teacher made her intentions clear, however by trying to warn the students. This is through

giving prior statements to remind the students that there is still continuing discussion

about the recent lesson and they still have activities to finish afterwards. This also

matched the study of Gil-Salmon and Soler-Monreal (2009) in which the speaker assure

to soften the commitment to the truth of the proposition being stated.

T1.34. “It's possible that there's only one because some sentences

probably do not contain transitive verbs.”

The teacher gave this statement when the student was trying to clarify the possible

ideas that he may answer on the assessment. Negative politeness strategy was present

because the teacher has no definite answer to the question asked by the students. The

teacher let the students find the answer to his question/s alone and left the students a little

confused and unanswered. As stated in the study of Gil-Salmon and Soler-Monreal

(2009), negative politeness strategy can also be in a way of giving uncertain expressions

which allow the degree of doubt to the interpretations of the hearer.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

C. Bald on-record strategy

T1. 42. “Try harder!”

The utterance was directly said to the student making it clear that bald on-record

strategy was used. The teacher gave a command without considering how the students

would react to the way the message was delivered. In this situation, the student was

having a hard time answering the activity however, the teacher tried to convince them

that they can do and accomplish the task in time. As well as, the utterance implies to do

analysis on the activity for them to get the right answer. The stand of this utterance was

from the study of Brown and Levinson (1987), whereas bald on-record strategy aims to

give command without adding group of words to conceal the objective of the speaker.

T1. 62. “No phones!”

It was evident that the utterance above showed the used of bald on-record strategy

because the teacher gave a command which constraint the student to use their mobile

phones. This happened when the teacher was discussing and she noticed that some of the

students were not paying attention rather were using their mobile phones in the classroom

which is prohibited as said in the classroom rules. The face was threatened when the

teacher stopped the students from using the phone and limiting the student’s personal

space without expecting any response. Hence, it claims the stand of Pschaid (1993) that

the relation between the status of the speaker to the hearer affects the type of utterance

that they use. The speaker with greater power tends to use bald on-record strategy to give

commands to the hearer having low power.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

D. Indirect or Off-record strategy

T1.13. “There are lots of news to read.”

The teacher expressed her intention inexplicitly by giving factual yet debatable

remarks. So, instead of telling the student to read and be updated of the news and events

happening around the country, the teacher used indirect politeness strategy to avoid

getting the students into subjects. In this situation, the teacher was discussing and asking

questions about the recent event that happened after the two day class suspension. The

teacher was imposing that they must know what happened around the country without

directly offending any of the students. This supports the study of Yara (2010) that

indirectly implementing a command without threatening the face of the hearer is called

indirect politeness strategy.

T1. 92. “Anybody could read.”

This example also presented the use of indirect strategy because the teacher

encourages the student to recite their answers that were written on the board. Instead of

picking or pointing out names of the students to read in a respective group, the teacher

just gave a statement which would let the student volunteer or recite. This happened

when the teacher was asking every group to have a representative in reading their

answers that turned the students to respond to the request that was addressed to anyone.

Likewise the example above also aids the study of Yara (2010), wherein in direct

politeness strategy make demands through constructing their sentences in a way that

makes the hearers think of what could be the possible implication of the utterance.
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Teacher 2(T2) has 139 total numbers of utterances which are distributed in the

four types of politeness strategies. Bald on-record strategy was also the prominent

strategy used in which there is 50 percent with 70 utterances in total. In negative

politeness, there are 37 utterances which have 27% from the analyzed speech. While

positive politeness, has only 21 utterances with15 percent. Also, indirect or off-record is

the least strategy observed in the analyzed utterances of T2 which has 11 utterances (see

Table 1).

The examples are presented as follows:

A. Positive politeness strategy

T2. 53. “Okay, correct.”

Through expressing the teacher’s agreement to the student’s discussion about the

lesson, this address the use of positive politeness strategy. In this situation, the teacher

was asking the students what they will write after giving their greetings to the reader of

their letters. One of the students answered the question which made the teacher give the

student credit for his answer. This was supported by the study of Abdul-Majeed (2009)

that one of the category in positive politeness strategy is seeking agreement, in which the

speaker approve or in favour to the opinion of the hearer, hence to satisfy the desire of the

hearer to be right.

T2. 64. “Wow!”

This is another example which shows positive politeness strategies because the

utterance was meant to give compliments to the student. The teacher expressed her
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

delight with the idea shared by the student. This happened when the teacher was

discussing the lessons and one of the students made a comment and shared his insights

about the lesson. If the utterance achieved the intent of the hearer, the speaker is praise.

As what Al-Azzawi (2011) claimed and cited the work of Herbert (1990), compliments

are considered as expressions of praise and admiration. However, the effectiveness of the

utterance or praise is lesser when the speaker and the hearer are not talking face to face.

B. Negative politeness strategy

T2. 78. “Sorry gentleman ha. Your future wife/wives have an option to use or

not to use your surname.”

Asking for apology before stating directly the implication of what the teacher was

telling about a certain idea is another form of employing negative politeness strategies.

The teacher expressed her sympathy towards the reaction of students specifically the men

who seemed to be shocked and disappointed. In this situation, the teacher was discussing

about the examples and option of women using the surnames of their partners in case the

surname looks or sounds disgusting. This was corroborated by the study of Holmes

(1989), that the term apology was restricted into expressions such as “sorry” and “I

apologize”, and this restore the social balance or agreement between the speaker and the


T2. 62. “So just to be in the safe side, better not go to ‘attention’”.

Giving a statement first before pointing to order is also another form of demonstrating

negative politeness. It is because by making the students feel good and

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

conscious about a certain issue first will give the students the will to follow a command.

The utterance was also indirectly and minimally imposed because of using of the word

“attention”. This happened when the teacher was asking whether they could use a certain

phrase to address their intentions on selling the products through the letter that they were

supposed to write. This claim was substantiated by the study of Monsefi and Hadidi

(2015), that teachers used an affirmative in order to soften the utterance or request and

this minimizes the authority of the message.

C. Bald on-record strategy

T2. 90. “Go straight to the point.”

Bald on-record strategy was present in this utterance because the teacher directly

gave a command to the students without minimizing the imposition. The teacher directly

command the students to give the exact answer and the hearer’s face was threatened

because the hearer found it difficult to give the answers right away. In this situation, the

teacher asked the students to give the reasons why they were writing a letter to their

future costumers. This was backed up by the study of Brown and Levinson (1987) that

the reason why the speaker employed bald on-record strategy is when he wanted to

satisfy the face of the hearer and direct imperatives stand for the best representation of

the bald-on-record strategy, as cited by Fialová (2010).

T2. 136. “If you won’t email on 11:59 P.M., you are literally dead.”

The teacher made the command clear and straightforward making this utterance being

categorized to the use of bald-on record strategy. The utterance also tends to create
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

pressure and instils care to the hearer and a threat to the hearer’s face. This happened

when the students were asking about the deadline of the output that they needed to

submit. The study of Xiaohui (2016) conforms this claim, as she stated that the speaker is

using bald-on record if he is trying to say or imply urgency, or if the intention of the

speaker is for a particular condition.

D. Indirect or Off-record strategy

T2. 95. “You know that’s why I like this class eh! You guys are a bit


This statement presented indirect strategy because instead of telling the students

that the teacher felt bad about their behaviour, she just made a sarcastic comment to hide

the disappointment she had and as well to lessen the bad feeling that the students might

react. In this situation, the teacher was asking examples from the students and some of

them gave examples that were inappropriate to the lesson. This was affirmed by the study

of Xiaohui (2016) that sarcasm is classified in off-record strategy in which the speaker

delivered her utterances to the hearer in the most insincere way and is often ironic or not

what the speaker really meant.

T2. 104. “Shh. Good looking students from IARFA, IAS, and IABF.”

Sarcastic compliments is also a form of employing indirect strategy because

instead of directly telling the students to be quiet and listen, the teacher made the

structure of the sentence positive to catch their attentions. The teacher gave ironic

statement. This happened when the teacher was about to discuss and clarify something
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

and everyone was busy chatting with their group mates about the activity that they

needed to answer. The claim was supported by Xiaohui (2016) that this kind of utterances

concealed the application of politeness strategy, the speaker is not being straightforward

on what she really want to imply to the hearer.

Over all, teacher 3 (T3) has a total of 127 utterances which are distributed in the

four types of politeness strategies. Likewise, bald on-record strategy has the greatest

number of occurrence with 50 utterances (39%) on the analyzed speech. Followed by,

politeness strategy which has 30 percent allocation in all utterances. Meanwhile, negative

politeness strategy has 26 utterances (21%) and lastly, indirect or off-record has the least

number of strategies seen in the utterances of T3 that has only 10%, 13 utterances in

numbers (see Table 1).The examples are presented as follows:

A. Positive politeness strategy

T3.24. “Will you please keep your cellphone?”

Another way of demonstrating positive politeness is through the use of politeness

markers such as “Please”. Through the use of this politeness marker, it softens the giving

of commands. The structure of the sentence was also in a question form. In this situation,

the teacher was starting to discuss the lesson however he noticed that there are some

students that were not giving attention to what she was saying rather keep on using their

mobile phones. This reflects the study of Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999) (as

cited by Widyanti and Yulia2012) that phrasal modals such please, could, may, in
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

the sentence will allow the speaker to give the degree of possibility, certainty, politeness

and also directness to which is most likely present in positive politeness strategies.

T3.75. “So let's transform this one into a simple present tense.”

Positive politeness strategy can also be showed though giving inclusive

imperative statements. This is evident when the teacher included himself by using “let’s”

in the answers that they needed to discuss. Instead of pointing a person to do the task

alone, the teacher made sure that she would be part and get involved with it so that it

would lessen the imposition within the class. The teacher’s involvement through the

utterance also motivates the class or the hearer to respond and cooperate. This happened

when the teacher was discussing the lesson to the student and she wanted everyone to

participate in the formative assessment. This affirms the study of Yara (2010) in which

the speaker address directly to the hearer the invite to participate the request through

accepting the claims. This also supports the idea of Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999)

that statements involving the speaker by using “let” with “us” could often function as a

suggestion instead of a command and that it is an “exhortation to follow the speaker’s

instructions or to agree with the judgment that the speaker expresses” (pg.223).

B. Negative politeness strategy

T3.8. “Sorry, this is what you call technology failure.”

Expressing oneself to defend to a certain situation can also be a way of employing

negative politeness strategy. In the utterance above, the teacher expressed herself by

justifying in defence to what happened to the presentation that he needed to show using
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

the device available in the classroom. In this situation, the teacher was preparing for the

lesson that was on her computer. She tried to set it up unfortunately it did not work.

Moreover, the study of Brown and Levinson (1987) claims that using negative politeness

strategy can be in a form of apologizing and then followed by the desire to give


T2.137. “Don’t worry, I’ll write it on Thursday.”

Another way of demonstrating negative politeness strategy is through giving

sentiments first before implying. In this case, the teacher made an assurance that students

did not have to feel troubled about the task because she would make sure that the rubrics

and necessary details for the activity would be given to them. However, they still needed

to pass the activity on the deadline and the teacher would still check their work to

monitor the progress. In this situation, the teacher was announcing their final output for

the midterm and students were asking clarifications regarding the output. This agrees the

study of Gil-Salmon and Soler-Monreal (2009) which states that by impersonalizing the

intention of the utterance, it reduces the hearer’s commitment to claims.

C. Bald on-record strategy

T3.20. “You’re next. You have to think of your answers.”

Giving direct remarks is also another way of presenting the use of bald on-record strategy

and it is evident in the example given above. In this situation, the teacher was calling the

people in the classroom to write down their answers on the board. The student was not

even able to make his refusal on the command given to him because the whiteboard
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

marker was already given even when the hearer was not reciting. The student was caught

off-guard. This claims the study ofXiaohui (2016) that bald on-record strategy has the

intention on attacking the face of the hearer which happened in the given example.

T3.58. “That's wrong!”

The teacher expressed her disagreement in a very straightforward and clear way

thus, presenting the use of bald on-record politeness strategy. At that moment, the teacher

heard the answer of a student and gave her comment right away. This threatens the

hearer’s face because the teacher as the speaker opposed the answer. In this situation, the

students were asked to read and explain the answers they have written on the board. This

supports the study of Shing (2012) whereas bald on- record strategy is when the speaker

does not care of expressing his disapproval to the hearer. Hence, it does not maintain the

self-image of the hearer in the public.

D. Indirect or Off-record strategy

T3.21. “Is there anyone here, who have extra whiteboard marker?”

The example above presented indirect strategy because instead of asking the

students to give the markers to her, she constructed the sentence in a question form to

give the implication that she needed a marker. The utterance also implied to ask anyone

from the hearers to comply the request that is being asked by teacher. This happened

when the teacher was about to discuss the lesson however, she did not have markers to

write down the things that he wanted to emphasize. This supports the study of Brown and
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Levinson (1987) that in indirect politeness strategies, speaker tries to give a command

through giving hints instead of directly telling the intention of talking with the hearer.

T3.34. “Let's go with the best student in class, best actor!”

This statement employs indirect strategy because it may seem to appear as a

compliment however, the intention is to give a direct command to the students. It also

threatens the face of the student because his will to be free was being subjected.

Moreover, the teacher made the structure of the sentence into a positive form to lessen

and give highlight to the students. Also, the teacher was even laughing after saying it to

the students that somehow made the students more comfortable discussing her

explanations. The sentence was also sarcasm because the student was not able to comply

the teacher’s expectation. In this situation, the student was asked by the teacher to explain

their answers on the board. Luckily, this “bibo” student was the next to answer. This

reflects the study of Xiaohui (2016) wherein indirect politeness strategy can be seen

when it covers the intention of the speaker through mocking the hearer. In addition, the

idea of Murcia and Larsen-Freeman (1999) about the use of “let” with “us” supports this

because it is an “exhortation to follow the speaker’s instructions or to agree with the

judgment that the speaker expresses” (pg.223).

Moreover, the concept of politeness strategies are always present in the utterances

of the teachers. Thus, explains why politeness plays an important role in the interaction

between the teacher and the students. (Fang, Lingling and Liu, 2014).
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

II. Face Threatening Acts

Table 2 presents the distribution of percentages of face threatening acts and non-face

threatening acts for each participant.

Table 2

Frequency of the occurrence of Face Threatening and Non-Face Threatening

Participants FTA NFTA Total number of
Teacher 1 (T1) 89 (84%) 17 (16%) 106

Teacher 2 (T2) 120 (86%) 19 (14%) 139

Teacher 3 (T3) 107 (84%) 20 (16%) 127

Total 316 (85%) 56 (15%) 372

As cited by Chen (2017), Scollon and Scollon (1995: p. 38) claimed that “there is

no faceless communication”. In addition, Brown and Levinson (1987) indicated that

every speech act is a Face Threatening Act (FTA). FTA’s are the acts that neglect the

hearer’s sense of being respected (Patriage, n.d).

In analyzing the over-all utterances of all the participants (T1, T2, and T3) the study

found out that face threatening acts (FTAs) is more prominent than non-face threatening

acts (NFTAs). Both positive and negative face threatening phenomena can be seen in the

utterances of the teachers. Negative face is where the person desires to be autonomous,

free and not imposed by others, e.g promise, order or request, suggestions or advice,

reminding, and or threats or warning or challenge. On the other hand, positive face is

where a person needs to be accepted and liked by others, e.g disapproval,

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

criticism, complaints, accusations, contradictions, disagreements, and or expression of

emotion. (Brown and Levinson, 1987).

Teacher 1 has a total of 106 utterances where 84% or 89 utterances are allotted to

FTA’s while NFTA’s has only allocated 16% or 17 utterances in number. T1 committed

FTA’s on both negative and positive face. Examples are as follows:

Threat to the positive face:

Expression of emotion: T1.11. “You should have additional knowledge!”

The utterance that was shown above was said during the discussion of the sudden

class suspensions for two days. It tried to command and question the hearers’ existing

knowledge, which threatens the hearers’ positive face because the speaker (teacher)

showed that he was dismayed of the students’ unawareness about what is happening in

the Philippines during that time. This was supported by the study of Celce-Murcia &

Larsen-Freeman (1999), that the modal “should” is usually used to express advisability

and it also functions to show expectation for the present, past and future meaning.

Likewise, Gil (2012) mentioned that, hearers’ positive face was threatened because of the

assumptions of the speaker to the hearer. Therefore, the speaker felt downcast when she

knew that the hearer has only minimal knowledge about the topic since the hearer cannot

answer the speaker’s question.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Disapproval: T1.103. “No! It is not necessary.”

This utterance tends to disapprove with the hearer’s question regarding the lesson

they were discussing whereas she tried to give imposition on the question that did need a

reply. The disapproval of the speaker (teacher) threatened the positive face of the hearer

who expected to get an agreement. In the statement above, the hearer (student) tried to

clarify something about their discussion of answers with the prior activity. Thus, it aids

the study of Ambuyo, Indede and Karanja (2011) that FTAs can be criticism, accusation

or objections.

Threat to the negative face:

Promise: T1.38. “I’ll be back!”

The speaker states a future action in which the hearer should be involved. Hence,

the hearer’s negative face was threatened because the teacher was imposing something to

be accomplished by the students when he returned. The utterance above reflects from the

study of Gil (2012), wherein commissive speech acts like promises, basically threatens

the hearers’ negative face and the speaker himself, imposes a future action that would

certainly affect the hearer.In this situation, the speaker is implying the students to read

and analyze both given two letters since their lesson was about technical writing in

which, they must identify the sentences in active and passive voice. The statement of the

speaker is an FTA because the students were not given a chance to have much longer

time to search and find for the appropriate answers for their work and to finish the given

activity right after the class.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Reminding: T1.105. “Be very careful, be very careful with this thing.”

The utterance above sought to direct the hearers in writing their activities. In this

situation, the speaker limited the hearers in their writing techniques through reminding

the guidelines. The hearer’s negative face was threatened because the speaker was

implying something in which it restricted the hearer’s personal freedom yet the speaker

was just being concern that hearers’ may commit a common mistake in writing a letter.

This supports the assertion of Hatipoglu (2007) as cited in the study of Chen (2017) that

polite behaviour can be defined as the use of verbal or nonverbal strategies that consider

the hearers’ feelings by showing concern for their face needs. The way that the speaker

uttered the statement was just showing concern for the hearer.

Teacher 2 has 120 FTA’s (86%) out of 139 utterances and 19 NFTA’s(14%). See

given examples below:

Threat to the positive face:

Criticism: T2. 117. “You know, you people in Morayta are very sloppy.

You’re so suplado.”

The context of this utterance was during the discussion of the lesson and the hearers’ kept

on insisting that they would not accept a job to someone who was popular just because of

having too much confidence, especially in media. Yet, the speaker was explaining that

time would come they would need to because maybe someday he would become one of

the richest men in the country. The hearer’s positive face was threatened because the

speaker dispraised them yet it was less face threatening because the utterance
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

was addressed to “people in morayta” though she was only pertaining to a specific group

of students in FEU.

In connection with this, Brown and Levinson (1987) classified different types of

politeness strategies for reacting to FTAs that follows three sociological factors: 1.) the

relative power of the hearer over the speaker; 2.) the social distance between the speaker

and the hearer; and 3.) the ranking of the imposition in performing the FTA whereas,

considering the context of the statement above, it falls under the second sociological

factor in which the social distance between the speaker and the hearer helped lessen the

FTA probably because the hearer have met the speaker several times which makes the

hearer comfortable though, the authority of the speaker is still there.

Accusation: T2. 131. “I know they’re cheat mates. Sa kanila kana.”

The utterance was said when the speaker (teacher) divided the hearers (students)

into groups for their activity and two students caught his attention because they did not

want to be in different groups. The given statement above supports the statement of Gil

(2012) that, the hearer's positive face were threaten and the speaker assumes about

hearers' capabilities or even in social situation among others since the speaker assumed

right away that they were really cheaters with no concrete evidence.

Threat to the negative face:

Request: T2. 2. “Okay, please be seated.”

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

After the opening prayer the sample statement above was uttered by the speaker,

likewise the hearer’s negative face was threatened because the teacher was giving

imposition for everyone to be seated. Jaszczolt (2002) as cited by Chen (2017) indicated

that FTAs may threaten the hearer and the speaker by making requests and suggestions,

by criticizing and advising, or by expressing guilt and thanks. The utterance given above

is an utterance giving request to the hearer, thus, this linguistic act may be inherently

threatening the hearer.

Challenge: T2. 56. “Why wouldn’t you? Would you dare?”

The speaker threatened the hearer’s negative face because she was trying to

challenge her students into something that was inappropriate for them to do. This

utterance was given because the teacher was trying to give example about the lesson and

he wanted to know whether the students had enough knowledge about the etiquette in

writing a letter. Although the utterance committed was less face threatening to the hearer

because of the harmonious relationship between the teacher and the student as supported

by Senowarasito (2013) in order to lessen the threat to face in class interactions, teachers

could establish friendly facial expressions.

Teacher 3 has 127 total utterances wherein 107 utterances or 84% was portioned

to FTA’s much with NFTA’s that has only 20 utterances or 16%. See sample utterances


Threat to Positive face:

Expression of emotion: T3.5. “The feeling is mutual.”

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

The hearer’s positive face was threatened because the speaker does not care about

the “public self-image” of the hearer. In this utterance, the teacher embarrassed a

particular student in front of his fellow classmates. This is a very FTA for the hearer

because the teacher did not even consider the feeling of the embarrassed student, this

supports the study of Peng et., al. (2014) as cited by Cheng (2017), which shows that

teachers and the students have a greater distance on each other and the teacher still

manifesting his authority inside the classroom. Which may likewise indicate the student's

performance, because the greater the distance and the authority of the teacher, the

possibility that the command was being responded but the hearer (students) felt awkward

after the occurrence.

Threat to negative face:

Order: T3.10. “Can you just pull this up?”

The speaker was threatening the hearer’s negative face because he was giving

command yet it was a less threatening acts since the speaker used the modal “can”.

According to Azar and Hagen (2009) the modal “can” may express an ability or

possibility, informal permission or informal polite request ( as cited by Widyanti and

Yulia, 2016 ,p.15) . The statement uttered is asking for permission which is rejected by

the hearer.

Order: T3.16. “Yes please, write, yes you!”

The statement uttered by the speaker (teacher) has used politeness, the directive strategy.

The utterance itself was polite yet in the context of the given statement, the
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

teacher directly pointed a student and gave a white board marker for him to answer on the

board. The speaker was obviously imposing something to the hearer with the aid of non-

verbal actions. This supports the study of Brown and Levinson (1978, 1987) which to

some extent coincide with the notions of Locker and Watts (2008) that the degree of

potential threat to the face is based on the perceived social distance between the

interactants (as cited by Ambuyo, Indede, and Karanja, 2011). The hearer’s negative face

was being threatened because of the imposition though it became less threatening because

of the social distance of the interactants.

In summary, teachers use different types of politeness strategy such as Indirect

strategy, Positive Politeness, Negative Politeness and Bald On-Record Strategy to

communicate to the students inside the classroom. They conveyed words in a totally

different manner, but their intention was the same. They differ on how they say things

towards the students, their facial expression, the tone of their voice and their body

movements. These non-verbal signals sometimes contradict on what they say.

Based on the results, it is evident that the teachers frequently used bald on-record

strategy. They are straightforward in terms of giving instructions or answering the

questions of the students but negative effect may not be seen to the students. For instance,

when the teacher said “shut up!”; yet, she is smiling or the tone of his voice is soft, the

students might not be offended because they already know that the teacher is just kidding

or in not so serious type. Students and teachers are already comfortable with each other

that they can make jokes, laugh around and exchange conversation freely without feeling
FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

any pressure. The manner of expression or facial expression and the tone of their voice

have a bigger factor in this matter. The teachers make the classroom fun and conducive to

learning, but still have the authority and power to control the students.

Moreover, the concept of face threatening acts is evident all throughout the

analyzing of gathered data. According to Brown and Levinson, positive and negative face

exists universally in human culture. In social interactions, formal or informal, face

threatening acts are at times inevitable based on the terms of conversation.

Based on the results of this study, generally, FTA is more prominent in the

utterances of the teachers which have 85% or 316 occurrences of utterances while non-

face threatening acts has only 56 utterances or 15% (see table 2).

Based on the foregoing results, the following conclusions were drawn:

1. The utterances of the teachers in tertiary level are predominantly bald

on-record strategy because probably college students are open-minded

and mature thinkers considering they are already young adults. This also

contradicts the study of Fang, Linling, and Liu (2014) which showed

that there was an emphasis in using positive politeness strategy to avoid

impositions and to save the face of the hearer.

2. The result of utterances by the teachers are bald on-record strategy, for

instance, they give instructions in a direct way without offending the

face of the students. This is possibly because the affective filter of the

class is low. In which in Krashen's affective filter hypothesis (1985)

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

suggests that language learners might be distracted and would not be

able to absorb what they should learn in class because of their teacher’s

uncongenial manners or classmates’ aggressive and competitive

attitudes. Another is the length of the relationship, the openness with

each other, and the age difference between the teachers to the students.

3. The non-verbal actions of the teachers can potentially indicate whether

the utterance is threatening. Also, most of the time, the manner of

delivery of the utterance of the teacher is soft and gentle. This shows

that the utterances of the teachers do not define their character.

4. Most of the presented utterances by the teachers are face threatening

acts which opposes the study of Victoria (2012), Fang, Linling and Liu

(2014) and Sulu (2015) that contain both of positive politeness strategy

to maintain the friendly environment of the class since the teachers in

this study tend to make impositions and learning requires

communication that gives the impression of students’ mandatory

cooperation with the teacher.

5. Teachers maintain their authority inside the classroom in giving

command, asking request, disapproval, criticism, etc. which supports

the findings of the study of Destura-Madriaga (2007), that the power of

the teacher is considered to be linked in the using of fierce or

threatening directives to instill authority in the classroom.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies

Based on the conclusions of the study, the following recommendations are


1. Students could be enlightened and be aware that the utterances of

the teachers follow a certain strategy and the categorizations may

vary depending on how the implications and intentions of the

teacher are structured into sentences.

2. The results of the study could be introduced to teachers in the

academe, students who are currently taking AB-Linguistics or

Education course majoring in English to understand the meaning

and effects of utterances in small segment of conversation in the


3. Teachers of Linguistics subjects could introduce the different

approaches in discourse analysis in order to give meaning on the

different utterances occurred in verbal interaction.

4. It is also recommended that further studies on discourse and

conversational analysis will be conducted to know the different

meaning of utterances and even to understand the complexities of

language in a verbal interaction.

FEU Teachers Politeness Strategies


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