Using Metadiscourse to Create Effective and Engaging EFL Virtual Classrooms during the Covid-19 Pandemic

Document Type : Original Article


University of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates


This study investigated the use and functions of metadiscourse markers in English as a foreign language (EFL) virtual classroom during the Covid-19 pandemic. The study examined which metadiscourse markers—interactive or interactional—were used more frequently and how they were employed in an EFL context. It explored two interactive metadiscourse resources (code glosses and evidentials) and two interactional metadiscourse resources (attitude and engagement markers). The study utilized a mixed-method approach, using Hyland’s (2004) two-componential taxonomy, to analyze a corpus of 303,148 words from 35 online lectures (90 minutes each) delivered by three university instructors in the UAE. The Mann-Whitney U test was employed to determine any significant differences in the use of these resources and their subcategories. The results revealed that the three instructors used more interactional than interactive resources. The qualitative analysis showed that code glosses and evidentials were primarily used to manage the flow of information, provide elaboration on propositional content, and provide evidence to support arguments. They were also employed to achieve cohesion and logical coherence in online classrooms. In contrast, attitude and engagement markers were used to engage students and signal the instructors’ attitudes toward their material and audience. The study concludes with pedagogical implications for EFL instructors, students, and syllabus designers to foster social justice and fairness in the online learning environment, ensuring all students feel valued and empowered in their educational journey.