The purpose of the present study was to investigate the use of conventions by EFL students and the requirement of conventions by EFL teachers in student-teacher e-mail communication, in an English-medium university in the Arab world. A convenience sample of 61 students and 13 teachers from the Intensive English Program at the American University in Cairo, Egypt was used. Data were obtained for this exploratory study from a student survey, a teacher survey, and a sample of student e-mails, and were analyzed using descriptive statistics, chi-square tests, and thematic content analysis. Chi-square tests revealed a correlation between the frequency of use of the e-mail conventions, which students and teachers reported, of salutations, complete sentence, closings, and correct spelling; with the exception of the inclusion of salutations, teachers think students use those conventions much less than the students think they do. From the coding of the sample of e-mails it was evident that more than 60% of the student e-mails included information in the subject line, salutations, address terms, complete sentences, no SMS-style language, and the student's name at the end. However, more than half of the conventions were used by less than two-thirds of the student sample whose e-mails were analyzed. In regards to the conventions teachers require, teachers require conventions related to language proficiency the least, and ones related to formality the most. However, overall teachers require e-mail conventions with much less frequency that what the student reported using and what the teachers claimed the students use, as seen in the results of descriptive statistics and chi-square tests. Furthermore, the four conventions least required by teachers (closings, correct letter case, spelling and grammar) are also the ones least used in student e-mails.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Applied Linguistics Department

Degree Name

MA in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Graduation Date

Spring 2011

Submission Date


First Advisor

Fredricks, Lori

Committee Member 1

Gebril, Atta

Committee Member 2

Wachob, Phyllis


93 leaves

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item