Speech Act of Concern on the Academic Performance of Malaysian Foster Children

Cherish How, Jariah Mohd Jan


Language is vital in expressing concern as it allows one to explain their feelings, ideas and behaviour. Teachers and caregivers are concerned about the poor academic performance of foster children as these children have low grades on tests and high dropout rates. Those with poor academic performance might be vulnerable to secure a better life when they leave home. Nevertheless, studies on concern in regards to Malaysian foster children’s academic issues from a language perspective are scarce. Hence, this qualitative study uses speech act categories and stages of concern to examine the voices of concern of teachers and caregivers towards the academic performance of foster children. The data were collected from semi-structured interview sessions with teachers and caregivers. Findings reveal that teachers and caregivers are highly concerned about the poor academic performance of foster children as their responses are most prominent in the stage of refocusing. They attempted to reach out to address foster children’s academic needs by giving suggestions. However, they do face challenges in addressing these children’s academic needs and issues. Representative act is highly utilised by teachers and caregivers to describe, report or explain about problems in trying to help the children. This study contributes to the area of speech acts on concern especially on the academic performance of foster children in Malaysia.


Speech act of concern; stages of concern; foster children; academic needs; Malaysia

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17576/gema-2019-1903-06


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