Use of Politeness Strategies by Teachers in the School Staffroom in Kirinyaga County.
Waithira, Wambugu Rose
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The purpose for this study was to analyze the politeness strategies used by teachers in the school staffroom in Kirinyaga County. The objectives were; to determine the strategies of politeness employed by teachers in their interactions, to analyze how the sociological factors such as age, gender, power, rank and social distance influence politeness strategies used by teachers and to determine how the politeness strategies affect interactions among teachers in Kirinyaga County. Descriptive research approach was adopted for this study. Three secondary schools were randomly sampled. All teachers in the sampled schools were selected for the study. Research instruments were video recorder, observation and field notes to reinforce the data collected through video recording. Qualitative approach to data analysis was used in the study to present the utterance by teachers. However descriptive data from the frequencies of use of the politeness strategies by teachers was presented in tables. The positive politeness strategies used by teachers included notice, attending to hearer, optimism and seeking agreement. Negative politeness strategies used were minimization of imposition, apology and impersonalizing of speaker and hearer. Bald-on-record and off-record strategies were also used by the teachers. The Power of the principals was considered great because they were influential, eloquent and the fact that they acted as representatives of the teachers’ employer. This was evident from the straight forward orders and requests they made to the teachers. The distance of the speaker and hearer was identified from the way teachers interacted amongst themselves and with the principals. The use of the word ‘sir’ to address the principal was social distance characteristic. The social distance helped teachers to freely interact with each other and keep it official with the principals. The social distance between the speaker and hearer was however varied among participants of the same gender, age and rank among different schools. Gender, age and the ranks of teachers played a crucial role in the manner in which the teachers interacted. Politeness strategies brought about respect and cohesiveness among the teachers and the principals. Teachers need to understand the politeness strategies that can be used among them and the administrations to avoid friction and misunderstanding. This study observes that politeness has an instrumental role in the social interaction among teachers and therefore, use of politeness strategies is highly encouraged to foster good working relations among teachers and principals. Politeness strategies would also enhance output among teachers since it helped create unity of purpose among teachers. The findings of this study correctly predict how politeness is used in face to face conversations. For instance, this study observed that small talk upholds social relationships among teachers agreeing with the theory on positive face. A study to establish politeness strategies used by teachers on learners at different school levels and subjects would help to highlight reasons for varied perceptions on different subjects, teachers and schools among learners.