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© Language Investigation for A2 What is it? How do you think of ideas?
© What it says on the tin Manageable - a small research project in a chosen aspect of spoken or written English in use Practical words excluding data and appendices Comparable – 2 or more pieces of data Ethically sound – so as not to cause offence.
© What’s the point? to discover something new, something you want to know about how the English language works to create knowledge instead of consuming it to enjoy an exciting and challenging process of creative discovery.
© Hasn’t everything already been discovered? The English language is vast and constantly changing, so any individual researcher will only be focusing on a small, carefully defined area. This means that investigations you do could well be the only research currently happening in that area. And knowledge is not created by a small number of geniuses sitting thinking up massive new ideas. Instead…
© Knowledge about language is developed through… addition adding a new facet or dimension to an existing body of research an AS mini-investigation which explored whether there was a relationship between idiom use and age, adding to ideas about youth sociolect.
© Knowledge about language is developed through… clarification shedding light on ideas where the evidence seems unclear or unfocused an A2 mini-investigation which clarified the impact of Old English lexis on contemporary everyday language use.
© Knowledge about language is developed through… disputation disputing or challenging the findings of another language investigation an A2 project which disputed Lakoff’s finding that men use more taboo language than women. !!***!* !!**!&(*!!
© Knowledge about language is developed through… exemplification generating additional examples of language use to test whether the ideas hold good in another context an AS mini-investigation which looked at parental arguments to find out if the gendered patterns of interruption identified by Zimmerman and West held good.
© Knowledge about language is developed through… offering fresh perspectives on existing data or ideas re-examining ideas or data with the benefit of new critical or methodological tools an A2 project which took A Level textbook ideas about gendered language, and used the relatively new method of corpus linguistic analysis to examine what validity these largely anecdotal ideas had.
© Knowledge about language is developed through… improving methodological design addressing the same question with a better research method to see if new ideas emerge an A2 project which made sophisticated improvements to a very simple online survey of male-female confidence with computer jargon, conducted by a major company, to test whether their ‘shocking’ findings had any validity.
© Developing your own project ideas Give yourself enough time to experiment a bit, rather than simply jumping at the first idea. Generate lots of lines of enquiry then pick the two or three that you like best and explore them further. Keep an open mind and choose the one that emerges with the most interesting possibilities.
© Base your topic on a question or issue…compare like with like. Compare Radio 1 and Radio 2 – how language style of radio presenters reflect different target audiences. You must compare similar programmes e.g. Breakfast Show. How does the presentation of the news reflect the needs and interests of different audiences?
© More topic ideas… Compare the language of BBC1, ITV & Channel 4 – focus on news or sport items. Compare language styles of tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. How does the language of advertising vary according to target audience?
© More topic ideas… Identify the differences between live commentary on T.V. and radio. Target language used by magazines for readers of different ages. How teachers vary their language according to the age of their class. World English
© Yet more topic ideas… Language and social contexts - p128 Creating texts topic ideas – p129 Developing language topic ideas – p129 Accent and dialect. Text messaging Look around you for ideas. How members of your family interact in different situations.
© Writing your proposal. 1. Your link to, or interest in the investigation area. 2. The sort of data you plan to collect – a sample would be good. 3. Where and how you plan to gather your data. 4. The main areas of language and features you aim to work with.
© Proposal… 5. The question or hypothesis at the heart of your idea. 6. Details of any related linguistic research or theories. Proposal(s) (1 side A4) to JB first lesson back in September! A guide is provided on p136 of textbook.
© How to: surfing the web Use accessible English Language websites to explore what interests you most about the subject. Also try typing language topics into the search engines of online newspapers. Skim and scan, save things you find interesting, then see if you can develop an idea from these. Think about how you could develop a new line of enquiry from what you have read.
© How to: make a scrapbook, fill a photo album, keep a diary Fill a scrapbook with everything to do with the English Language that you can find. Just cut and stick and see what you end up with once it’s full. Go out with a camera taking pictures of everything you can find that connects to the study of language. Keep a diary for a week, recording everything you see or hear that might need further language investigation.
© How to: go and talk to someone interesting There will be people all around you who have interesting language biographies. Ask around, find out who they are, and go and talk to them. Think of some questions that might open up interesting discussions, and make notes of puzzles and questions that arise as you talk.
© How to: play around with some language gizmos Spend some time playing around with the different search functions of the online OED, or a free digital dictionary like Explore the British National Corpus, free and online. Type in words or phrases that interest you and get 50 examples to explore. Try ‘actually’ or ‘like’…
© How to: find out about other people’s research previous students at your school previous students around the country students and lecturers at universities publications such as emagazine
© Next steps… Try to think of as many initial lines of enquiry as you can. Which ones puzzle and intrigue you the most?
© Devising a research question It needs to be clearly focused and genuinely interesting. Key issues are: Whose language use? What language use? What context?
© Research design: types of data Decide what type of data will best enable you to answer your question. There are three key types: spoken, written, and computer mediated hybrids. Consider carefully the advantages and disadvantages of each… … and how you will capture it.
© Research design: techniques… Corpus analysis This means analysing a body (corpus) of written or spoken language, e.g. a collection of articles from a newspaper, or a transcription of multiple conversations. Computer interfaces can allow analysis of large corpora, e.g. BNC.
© Research design: techniques… Ethnographic study This results in a detailed description of an individual or a group or community, with the aim of explaining some aspects of their language behaviour. A key feature is the observation of the participants in their natural surroundings.
© Research design: techniques… Experiments Variables in people and situations are carefully controlled, through the use of a specific setting or common activity. This is to enable the researcher to test the effect on language use of one or more other variables – such as gender or age.
© Research design: techniques… Interviews structured: a predetermined set of questions from which there is no deviation unstructured: a broad topic but no predetermined questions semi-structured: a set of prompts and points with the wording of the questions made up in situ.
© Research design: techniques Surveys often consist of questionnaires, in which a set of tightly controlled questions are asked of a large number of people other types used in language research: recognition surveys, Rapid Anonymous Surveys and surveys with image or key word prompts.
© Research ethics Consent who can give consent freedom to choose disguise and deception confidentiality
© Analysing the data practical issue: multiple copies complexity of the process TIME
© Presenting the project report the report format appropriate academic habits of mind attentive focus on relevant language frameworks
© How to present your work. Cover page Contents Acknowledgements Introduction – 400 words Methodology – 250 words Analysis – with subsections – 1450 Conclusion and evaluation – 400 Bibliography Appendices
© AOs AO1 – 20 marks AO2 – 20 marks AO3 – 10 marks
© Theories Are very important.
© What it takes to get a top grade… a good, perceptive and detailed linguistic knowledge of chosen data comments with pertinence and insight on the effectiveness of the approaches taken sound and systematic application and exploration of relevant frameworks insightful, clear and succinct exploration/ understanding of concepts of language in use in relation to task sureness, judgement and flexibility in use of content, structure and style for audience perceptive and accurate analysis of a range of relevant formal and contextual factors in data
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