Journal of Education & Social Policy

ISSN 2375-0782 (Print) 2375-0790 (Online) DOI: 10.30845/jesp

How Polite You Are: A Study of Learners’ Politeness Strategies Used in Avatars in the Second Life Virtual World
Ko, Ling-Yao, Ko, Ling-Yao

This study explores how politeness strategies are used through avatars in chat-based Second Life (SL) virtual worlds and how speech-act performance can be learned through the suggestions of experts to help enhance learners’ pragmatic language acquisition. The study was based on a one-semester assignment which allowed students to bolster their university English-reading course grade through participation in the study.The total number of participants was 240, 50 Taiwanese nursing students and 190 non-Taiwanese Second Life players. The 50 students had studied English for at least four years, but their English proficiency level was below the passing threshold of the Elementary Level of the General English Proficiency Test(GEPT) in Taiwan. The 50 participants were requested to play an online game namedSecond Life and to chat online with no more than five foreigners randomly chosen by them. After the students played the game in the virtual world, text records of their online chatting were collected so as to analyze the politeness strategies used in SL. The results showed that the most common politeness strategy used was in a direct command (73.78%); the second one, positive politeness (15.8%); the third one, negative politeness (6.01%); the fourth one, off record (3.4%), the fifth one, pre-request (0.77%), and the last one, bald on record (0%). In order to improve the politeness strategies used on the internet, Speech acts related to politeness in traditional and nontraditional learning context would be recommended in this paper as well.

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