Interpersonal Discourse Markers in Online vs. Face-to-Face EFL Classes

Document Type : Original Article


Shahid Ashrafi Esfahani University, Isfahan, Iran


Lack of contextual cues which are richly present in face-to-face communication imposes some conversational constraints on the interpersonal relationships in online classes. One of the means of expressing interpersonal stance is using discourse markers. For the purposes of the present study, namely to investigate how the means of expressing interpersonal stance may be influenced by the medium of instruction (online vs. face-to- face), video recordings of six face-to-face and three online classes were investigated for interpersonal discourse markers. A 300-minute video for the face-to-face and a 119-minute video for the online classes were obtained. The courses were General English ones, upper intermediate level. Results show that the occurrence of discourse markers in online classes was about twice more than in the face-to-face ones. In online classes teachers demonstrate creativity and innovation in using DMs for expressing interpersonal stances which may be to compensate for the limitations of the medium. It is concluded that the medium of instruction has an effect on the amount of discourse markers applied. This can raise awareness with regard to limitations and affordances of the online settings and lead to quality instruction.