G4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Language proficiency facework and perceptions of language proficiency face in L2 interaction (2021)
Kielitaitokasvojen kasvotyö ja käsityksiä kielitaitokasvoista vieraskielisessä vuorovaikutuksessa

Ahvenainen, T. (2021). Language proficiency facework and perceptions of language proficiency face in L2 interaction [Doctoral dissertation]. Jyväskylän yliopisto. JYU Dissertations, 358. http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8553-0

JYU authors or editors

Publication details

All authors or editors: Ahvenainen, Tarmo

eISBN: 978-951-39-8553-0

Journal or series: JYU Dissertations

eISSN: 2489-9003

Publication year: 2021

Number in series: 358

Number of pages in the book: 249

Publisher: Jyväskylän yliopisto

Place of Publication: Jyväskylä

Publication country: Finland

Publication language: English

Persistent website address: http://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-39-8553-0

Publication open access: Openly available

Publication channel open access: Open Access channel


A fundamental feature of human existence is that we are concerned with what others think of us, and we are aware of similar concerns in others. In foreign or second language (L2) communication, this concern may include what others think of us as a skillful user of that language. These concerns have been studied in communication anxiety studies earlier, but face theory has been little deployed to explore this, despite its inherent explanatory potential. Face theory provides a theoretical concept to address both the sensitivity of participants in an interaction to their image as users of L2 and the similar sensitivities that they assume their interlocutors have. This study aims to shed light on how language proficiency face, the vulnerable image of an L2 speaker, is noticeable in interaction as facework. Another aim is to find out how L2 users perceive this language proficiency face. The theoretical framework introduces face theories, the concepts around language self, and language concepts around language self, and language concepts as underpinnings of language proficiency face claims. The data consist of authentic video-recorded interaction material with English-as-a-lingua-franca speakers in study and work settings and audio-recorded interviews with the same participants. In addition, the author used his own introspective autobiographical material. Marked Selected extracts where facework could be detected from the interaction were analyzed using discourse analysis. The findings were triangulated with content analysis of the interviews, which included post-commentary on the interaction. Further triangulation was sought through the author’s introspective autobiographical data. The findings show that proficiency facework includes co-construction of turns and non-verbal communication, which enable participants to treat language problems similarly to content negotiations. As for the perception of proficiency face, the findings suggest that participants may view the face relevance of features of language use and interaction differently. Participants had different perceptions of the seriousness of communication problems, the origin of these problems, and the resulting consequences for proficiency face. Features of proficiency faces of participants are illustrated in facework postures, which are based on individuals’ beliefs and attitudes related to language proficiency, and their facework preferences

Keywords: languages; language learning; self-esteem; experiences (knowledge); vulnerability; language skills; linguistic interaction; use of language; nonverbal communication; face; lingua franca; English language; applied linguistics; pragmatics; discourse analysis

Free keywords: applied linguistics; pragmatics; interaction; discourse analysis; face theory; facework; language self-concept; L2 self; English as a lingua franca

Contributing organizations

Ministry reporting: Yes

Reporting Year: 2021

Last updated on 2022-19-08 at 19:42