Deconstructing the discourse: Mitigation in the Supervisory Discourse of Language Teacher Supervisors in Iran

Document Type: Research Paper

Author

English Department, Azadshahr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Golestan, Iran

10.22054/ilt.2020.39392.373

Abstract

This study investigated mitigation in the supervisory discourse of Iranian language teacher supervisors to see what mitigation devices these language teacher supervisors in Iran used to achieve a balance message clarity and politeness when delivering negative feedback. Using convenient sampling, 10 post-observation feedback conferences from Iran Language Institute, Shiraz University Language Center, and Safir English Language Academy in Shiraz, Tehran, and Mashhad were recorded and transcribed. The data were examined using Wajnryb's (1994) typology of mitigation devices. The findings of the study indicated that Iranian language teacher supervisors tended to use what Wajnryb (1994) called “above-the-utterance-level” mitigation, something between “hyper-mitigation” (highly mitigated language) and “hypo-mitigation” (hardly mitigated language) though they could have made a more appropriate use of the host of possible mitigation devices to further soften their rather directive language thereby promoting reflection on the part of the teachers. The most frequently used mitigation devices included qualm indicators, modal verbs, interrogatives, clause structures and hedging modifiers respectively with the rest of the mitigation devices considerably underused indicating that training in supervisory discourse is essential for Iranian language teacher supervisors. The findings hold implications for teacher education programs, language teaching institutes and language teacher supervisors to consider and work on mitigation devices to be able to deliver negative feedback both clearly and politely.

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