Gossiping about their colleagues and bosses, which is interesting to observe. It is unconventional for Vietnamese teachers to encourage students to develop such behaviours, such as gossiping or talking bad behind one’s back. However, with the smiley tone of this turn, it can be interpreted that Haylee is actually very well aware of this issues at workplaces. What she is doing here is dramatizing her understanding of workplace relationships and frustrations to help to students feeling at ease when sharing their complaints.
At the same time, going against the conventional style of Vietnamese teachers, code-switching in this case not only creates an intimacy but also indexes a stance of daring and playfulness which portrays Haylee as someone who is funny, outspoken and unconventional. These identities are similarly seen in line 6 and 8. In response to K’s challenge in line 5 which questions the suitability of the task for those who are unemployed in the class, Haylee equivocal answer in line 6 again indexes a stance of directness and daring which portrays Haylee as an outspoken and eccentric person.
Drawing on Haylee’s response, if the students are not employed and still studying at schools, it is acceptable to gossip about the teachers. As mentioned in the literature review, in Vietnam, teachers are normally associated with the masters of knowledge and role models. A teacher is thus much respected by the society and is considered the symbol of knowledge and morality. The act of gossiping teachers and being disobedient are seen as offensive behaviours. Hence, the act of advocating the students to gossip about their teachers is seen as something unusual.
At the same time it is considered as an act of self-downgrading since encouraging the students to talk bad about their teachers can also involve Haylee herself. Haylee’s turn in line 6 not only shows her attempt to engage the students in the activity, but is also seen as a potential risk of losing face if the students choose her to complain about. It indexes a daring and boldness stance that portrays Haylee as someone unconventional, as well as a risk-taker.
Haylee’s unconventional position and her boldness bring about humorous elements into the lesson, which can be observed by the students’ laughter in line 7. This boldness and confidence are further elaborated in line 8 when Haylee takes “talkative” as one of the examples for complaining about the teachers. She also opens other options that is to gossip about friends. Switching to L1 also helps Haylee to easily express certain funny expressions indexing jokey stance that construct Haylee’s identities as someone who is funny and humorous.
In line 16 and 25, we can see a repetition of the phrase ‘petition to god’. After assigning the task to the students, Haylee notices that Tuan is not interested in participate in the activity. In order to encourage Tuan, Haylee takes Phuong and other students as examples by pointing out how much Tuan’s friend have worked on. Haylee describes the students’ piece of paper filled with their complaints as ‘petition to god’. In Vietnam, petitions to gods are normally written in Chinese characters and performed in front of pagodas by people who have good hand writing skills.
People going to pagodas normally write their wishes of good health and at times ask for god’s help if they are in difficult and suffering situations. Linking the students’ complaint sheets with Vietnamese’s traditional petition to god, Haylee creates an interesting metaphor between the students’ complaints and their frustration. This evokes an embellishing and jokey stance, which portray Haylee as a funny and humorous teacher. In addition to the above identities, near to the end of this extract, another interesting identity is portrayed through the stance of sarcastic and mockery.
When collecting the students’ complaint papers and noticing that Tuan is not able to submit his work, Haylee’s turn in line 26 and 27 is produced in response to this particular behaviour. Haylee chooses to directly address the student by his name and also formally stresses many positive qualities about him, including innocent, pure, noble, optimistic and rose-coloured in L1. Listing these good qualities are regarded as an explanation for Tuan’s failure of producing his paper of complaint about his workplace/school.
If this turn is produced outside the context of this classroom conversation, it can be literally interpreted as a compliment or positive appraisal. However, considering and examining the whole sequence and how the conversation unfolds, this turn, in effect, implicitly conveys a admonition, warning Tuan lightly for his poor attempt to fulfil the task. This use of irony thus evokes a stance of light mocking and jockey stance, which portrays Haylee as someone who is playful and does not want to be stern to her students. The extract has shown a variety of complex identities constructed through the Haylee’s use of L1 in her L2 classroom.
Drawing from Haylee’s classroom data, it is interesting to see how different identities are constructed and how identities can be shifted on a longer sequence level of classroom discourse. This identity shift is also found in Manh’s classroom discourse. By the code choice, Manh can bring in other sociocultural matters, which shifts his identities as a teacher to an educationist as in extract 11. Moreover, switching to L1 also creates a position in which intercultural and bilingual identities become relevant to Manh’s identity construction (Extract 12). These aspects will be discussed in the following section.