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CLSU 2006-01: Teachers’ Directives: Are they Gendered?

Drawing support from Searle’s (1979) concept of speech acts and Brown and Levinson’s (1987) theory of politeness, this study was an attempt to make an inventory of the types of directives used by teachers. Specially, it sought answer the following questions: a) What type of directives do teachers most prefer to use? B) What are the linguistic features of these directives? and c) Are there differences in the type of directives used by male and female teachers? Thirty teachers from four universities (15 males; 15 females) participated in the research. Data were gathered through a questionnaire with 11 different classroom situations each followed by a set of common directive statements. Participants were made to choose their most preferred directive for each situation by ranking the choices 1, 2, 3, with 1 as the most preferred. Constrained by time, the analysis was limited to only the directives ranked as no. 1. These were then examined for their linguistic features and coded as threatening and less threatening. Results showed that although both female and male teachers prefer the less threatening or mitigated forms than the threatening or aggravated forms, there remain some marked differences in their choice of directives. When both gender use less threatening forms and, therefore, polite directives, women tend to choose the indirect ones whereas men tend to go for the direct forms. Women in this study have been found to use more threatening directives than males, and power and status are suspected to be factors predictive of this variation. The less threatening directives come in the following linguistic forms: a) Request with please and modals like may, can, could, would; b) Declarative directives; c) Interrogative directives; d) statements with Let + inclusive us; and e)statements with I hope. On the other hand, threatening directives take the form of: a) Direct commands with VERB + NP; b) Commands with should and have to; c) Statements with I want you to; and d) Declarative Directives. Teachers’ most preferred directives in this study were found to be characterized by caring and empathy which both associated with women’s language. As to how the directives affect the students did not form part of this research hence, the author recommends its inclusion in another investigation.

Central Luzon State University
Authors Keywords
Madriaga, Joventina D.; education; gender;
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