Development of Mitigation in L2 English: The Impact of Study Abroad on EFL Students

Epistemic stance markers are a common feature of communication.  When we say “epistemic stance markers,” we mean phrases such as I think, I know, I guess, maybe, actually, certainly, may, could, or might, etc. Epistemic stance markers (EMs), as well as relevant hedges, fulfill three interconnected functions: (i) expressing opinion, (ii) maintaining interpersonal relations, and (iii) providing discourse organization (Hunston and Thompson 2000). Focusing on the interpersonal features of epistemic stance, especially “mitigation”, in English as a foreign language (EFL) discourse, this presentation investigated (1) how EFL learners’ use of EMs/hedges changes before and after a one year study abroad where they take content courses, and usually interact with their peers, in English, and (2) how EFL learners deploy such markers to manage social interactions in in appropriate ways. (Note: This work is supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant No. 17K02999.)



Mika Kizu is Professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Notre Dame Seishin University, currently teaching various courses in the International Communication stream. She received a Ph.D. in linguistics at McGill University, and taught Japanese linguistics at Durham University and SOAS, University of London. She has publication in syntax, second language acquisition, and translation studies, including her single-authored book, Cleft Constructions in Japanese Syntax (Palgrave, 2005), and the co-edited book with Barbara Pizziconi, Japanese Modality: Exploring its scope and interpretation(Palgrave, 2009).


Eiko Gyogi is an assistant professor in Japanese Language Education Program, Faculty of International Liberal Arts at Akita International University, where she teaches various undergraduate Japanese language courses. She obtained a Ph.D. in linguistics at SOAS, University of London. Her research interests include translation in language teaching, pragmatics, and heritage language education. Recent work includes ‘Translating ‘Japanese culture’: A discourse approach to teaching culture’ (2018), in Language and Intercultural Communication.


Patrick Dougherty (On the research team but not presenting on this occasion) is a Professor of International Liberal Arts and the Director of the English for Academic Purposes Program and Foreign Language Education at Akita International University.  He holds a Master of Arts in History and a Master of Education from Northern Arizona University and a Master of Arts in Applied Linguistics from the University of Southern Queensland.  Additionally, he holds a Doctorate in Education in Educational Administration from Northern Arizona University.  He has been an educator for over 30 years and has taught high school or university courses in the USA, Japan, Bangladesh, and the United Arab Emirates.


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