The purposes of this assignment:

Diagnostic: To identify any difficulties people are having with the systems of pragmatic analysis elements of context, implicature, speech act theory and politeness theory..

Exploratory: To provide a chance for you to think about how these might be applied to an authentic spoken text.

Critical thinking and judgement: To provide an opportunity to take a critical approach to the tools and their application.

TASK description:

Read through the provided transcript of a teacher parent meeting. This has been transcribed using conversation analysis conventions.
The transcription consists of a roleplay performed by an actual teacher who is familiar with such interactions in her real-life professional role, and the researcher (JM) in the role of the parent. It is based on a scenario used for testing the language proficiency (including pragmatic competence) of overseas trained teachers. It is real research data not yet published and hence is not for citation or reproduction outside this unit. In a sensitive interaction like this it is important to avoid misunderstandings and linguistic pragmatics is useful in allowing students to get a clear idea on how this is done. There are some short answer questions which test your ability to apply the knowledge you have gained so far, one longer, evaluative question.

PART 1 – short answers. (No references to published works needed here)

Grading information is shown in italics.
Response ( please type your response in the table) Possible mark Mark achieved
1. Shared background knowledge: What is the difference between cultural background knowledge and interpersonal background knowledge?

Comment on what background knowledge is and is not shared at the beginning of the interaction. How do you know?
Must clearly show the difference between the 2. (no marks for this, but one mark deducted from the total for this question if it isn’t there.)

Must give an example of each one that is correct. ( I mark)

Must explain how this is derived from the text. ( I mark)



2 What does the pronoun choice (personal deixis) tell us a change in the level of co-operation between the teacher and parent?
Must identify the line number and explain why it signals a change.
3. List Leech’s politeness maxims. Find an example of one of them used by the teacher and one used by the parent.

Correctly list the politeness maxims (no marks for this, but one mark deducted from the total for this question if it isn’t there.) Give 2 correct examples (I mark each)

4. What FTA (Brown and Levinson) is performed by the teacher and what politeness strategy or strategies does she use to mitigate it?

Identify the FTA and the strategy using B&L’s taxonomy. Must get both of these right to get the mark.

5. Find an example of an utterance said by the parent which could be face threatening to the teacher.
Does it threaten positive or negative face?Give line number.

Must be correctly identified as positive or negative

Must get both of these right to get the mark.

6. Find an example of a positive politeness strategy used by the teacher.

Correctly identify the line number – I mark


7. What is an indirect speech act? Find an example where the parent uses an interrogative form as an indirect speech act. (give the line number) What is the intended illocutionary force?
Define an indirect speech act (no marks for this, but one mark deducted from the total for this question if it isn’t there.)Find the line number ( 1 mark) Identify the illocutionary force (1 mark)  


8. Find an example where a Gricean maxim is breached by the parent. Which maxim is it and what implicature is created?

No marks for finding it but it must be the right one, then one mark for the maxim and one for the implicature.



Commentary 600-800 words
Consider the areas we have looks at so far in the unit: Deixis, mutually assumed knowledge, Speech act theory, Gricean implicature and [1] Leech and [2] Brown and Levinson’s politeness theories. Which of these has been most revealing in analysing what was happening in this interaction? What, if any, shortcomings or difficulties have you noticed in trying to apply these analytical tools? Provide references using APA style. (These are not included in the word limit. 3-5 recommended)


Assignment 1 text:
Teacher parent interview

[if you are unfamiliar with CA transcription, this is a simplified Jefferson transcription. There are many examples of this online. Check, for example:]

TEACHER:       and I would say ….((entering role at this point))
Mrs Thompson it’s lovely to meet you.

PARENT:        nice to meet you too=

TEACHER:       = Ah, my name is Mrs (0.4) X. I am Michael’s English teacher and I’m really glad that you’ve come tonight to talk about Michael.
is there anything in particular that you would like to know?

PARENT:        not really. I think he’s um he’s usually pretty good in his studies but I just wanted to meet you and see how he was going this time and

TEACHER:       [yeah

[make sure…

yeah, well, I am glad that you’re here because I think (.)  um (.)   I’m a little bit disappointed in in in Michael’s progress in English?

PARENT:        really­

TEACHER:       [ye::ah.

PARENT:        [that’s a bit of a surprise because he used to go really  (0.2)   well.

TEACHER:       YEAH well, I’ve had a look at his (.) his past marks and I (.)  I would (.)  [agree with that.


I think in recent times he’s fallen down a little bit? I know that he hasn’t been handing in his (.)   assessments on time or his homework when it’s set. [So-

PARENT:        [that’s not like him. He’s usually (.) very (.) on the ball.


[are you sure that he hasn’t handed in everything?

TEACHER:       I’m certain. Yeah, we do keep records and also um um I would say that it’s pretty consistent with his attitude in class. He’s often quite um disrespectful? towards towards me and he can be quite insolent to the other students in class.

PARENT:        oh, that’s impossible Michael’s not like that. he’s you know, he’s


[such an outgoing such a ( . )   nice kid. He’s got lots of friends and I’ve never heard a teacher say that he was insolent before.

TEACHER:       well, he’s often – I would say that often at home students can be very different to the way they are at school so we have a lot of kids whose parents you know, don’t don’t know what we’re talking about when we


[report problems but  it’s possible that it’s something within the school environment that he’s responding to and also y’know this is getting to be a more stressful time [for Michael.


it it’s his preliminary HSC so it’s possible that that’s triggering some of this behaviour as well.

PARENT:        ye::ah, it might be some of the kids that he’s hanging out with as well if you are finding that his, his behaviour is not what you want it to be.

TEACHER:       that’s [possible­ um .

PARENT:        [some of his friends might be maybe (0.4) leading him astray a bit=

TEACHER:       =I think within the class though, it is Michael who is quite disruptive? =

=mm =

=I don’t know if I’ve noticed any of his peers in class and his work has been suffering (.) he, y’know he hasn’t been handing in [assessments.


it’s not just his behaviour in class that I’m worried about and that’s why I don’t think it would be a good idea for him to to apply for extension? English? next year?

PARENT:        yeah, I ­think he’s going to be really disappointed about that because he wants to go to [uni


and he [wants


to get good marks and my understanding is that he actually liked English, that is up until he started this year=

=Yeah [well look the best –

[He was really good.

TEACHER:       the best opportunity for him to get good marks is for him to do something that he enjoys doing which from my perspective he isn’t at the moment and that he is good at. (.) And and I know that he is struggling.


The work that he has handed in hasn’t been of a particularly high [standard.

PARENT:        [why do you think that he’s not enjoying what you’re doing?

TEACHER:       (0.3) well (.)   I’m not sure that it’s what we’re doing that’s the problem. I know that the rest of the class really enjoys what we’re studying at the moment.


I think um, I think it’s a general attitude problem that Michael has.


he’s very resistant to direction? in class. It [is


it is possible that he he you know – I’m happy to have a chat with him

mm hmm

about some alternative things, maybe some supplementary texts that we could look at for him to study but in order to do that he would really have to put in the work and I’m not sure[ that-

PARENT:        [I’m sure he’s capable of that. I mean, I’m sure he [would do that.

TEACHER:       [we::ll, whether or not he’s capable of it is one thing


and whether or not he wants to do it is another and everything that I’ve seen in class lately tells me that he’s very resistant to


to handing in assessments, to handing in homework that is set and um (0.2 I think) that if he wants to succeed and go forward to uni his best chance is to do it in subjects where he’s happy to hand in the work on time.

PARENT:        he does seem to be doing better in his other subjects…

TEACHER:       ye::ah=

PARENT:        =but I’m just a bit (.) a bit disappointed really to hear this because I thought English was one of his stronger subjects


and he’s always been really good. you know, and in our family we’re both writers, both parents are [writers


so I kind of expected that maybe he (.) would want to carry on with that, or ah yeah I just don’t quite know what to say ah

TEACHER:       well, it’s possible that you know he might enjoy reading and [writing


but the kinds of things we assess in English, sometimes really creative kids can find a bit dry. So it’s possible that the particular aspects that need to be assessed for the HSC he’s not enjoying but also y’know students can change over time.


I know the preliminary course is very challenging and maybe what he enjoyed in the junior years (.)  he’s not enjoying so much now and this is really the best time for him to decide and to make a decision on what he wants to do because next year it’ll be too late and it could affect his mark negatively by [then.


there’s still time now for him to really focus on subjects that he really wants to do and I think he’s (.)  he’s a really capable kid. I’m just not sure that English (.)  would be the best possible way forward for him at the HSC.

PARENT:        okay, so what do you think we should do from this point?

TEACHER:       well, I think you should really sit down with him


and I’m happy to do that with you, if you like or with the head of faculty, and talk about what he really wants to do after school and what he wants to aim towards. Ah and if he’s willing to put in the work in other subjects=


and really let him make the decision (.)   ah for himself.

if he wants to continue with English I think we have to see quite an attitude change


and I’m happy to work with him on that to keep you updated but but really I I think the way forward is is not to continue with English extension.

PARENT:        Okay, well, I’m not sure that we’re quite ready to accept that at the moment but (.)  we’ll have a talk with him and see what he says.

TEACHER:       yeah, of course.

PARENT:        and do you know any other areas that he is better in and have you talked with colleagues about him at all?

TEACHER:       ah, I know I’ve talked to his technology teacher, his D&T teacher, and I know he loves robotics so maybe um he could continue that as an elective next year.

PARENT:        okay, well, we should probably talk with him.

TEACHER:       yeah.

PARENT:        okay, so what will we do? We’ll just arrange to meet (.)  some time [or…

TEACHER:       [yeah, well, you know…

PARENT:        …do you want to send me an email or something?

TEACHER:       I would love to send you an email and I’ll cc it with my head of faculty and also the head of the um, the D&T department. (xxx) ..and um and we can all sit down at a time that suits you and Michael and really have a good chat with him about it. I think you know, it’s important that he is involved in the conversation too.

PARENT:        okay, all right thank you and thank you…

TEACHER:       thank you.

PARENT:        …for being so frank.

TEACHER:       no problem.

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