Approaching the Language Investigation task
Navigate to resources by choosing units within one of the unit groups shown below.
Delivery guides are designed to represent a body of knowledge about teaching a particular topic and contain:
- Content: a clear outline of the content covered by the delivery guide
- Thinking Conceptually: expert guidance on the key concepts involved, common difficulties students may have, approaches to teaching that can help students understand these concepts and how this topic links conceptually to other areas of the subject
- Thinking Contextually: a range of suggested teaching activities using a variety of themes so that different activities can be selected that best suit particular classes, learning styles or teaching approaches.
Approaches to teaching the content
The specification determines that the investigation should be independently selected by each learner. Learners can draw on any area of teaching already covered by the specification or can elect to select a topic that they have not studied in depth. Learners should take the initiative in selecting the topic and focus of their language investigation, but teachers should offer guidance on appropriate topics and how to undertake the research. Learners are encouraged to select topics that are of interest to them and that are challenging, but should be discouraged from undertaking an overambitious task where the focus and depth of their investigation is likely to become diluted.
Common misconceptions or difficulties learners may have
The language investigation is a new style of assessment for learners studying towards an OCR qualification. For this reason there may be some trepidation amongst learners as to how to approach the two tasks. In the first instance it is important to emphasise that the language investigation follows a highly structured format (in terms of sections that must be covered) and this will guide learners towards the most natural approach to drawing their investigation together. Furthermore, though the learners are unlikely to have produced an academic poster format for ‘a’ level assignments in the past, they certainly will have produced work in this format at another point in their learning (either formally or as part of informal lesson tasks). As such, the format of the task should not be considered a barrier, but an opportunity to practice communicating information in a more visual way. However, it should also be noted that the academic poster is awarded marks for the quality of the written content rather than the visual features that it adopts.
Learners should be aware that the focus of the investigation is to focus on the analysis of the data that is gathered (within the context of the theories/concepts that underpin the specific language focus). Learners should also be aware that there is no prejudice between written or spoken language data – investigations drawing on either type of data have equal opportunity to be successful assignments.
Conceptual links to other areas of the specification – useful ways to approach this topic to set learners up for topics later in the course.
The skills and knowledge sets required to be successful within the non-examined assessments tasks are drawn directly from those that have been developed over the course of study. Learners will utilise terminology, concepts/ideas, language analysis methods that they have honed while studying the other units on the specification. Learners are also able to draw directly from topical choices that they have studied so far on their course in order to identify an area of language they wish to investigate.
This lesson activity and assocoated tasks serve as an introduction to the Language Investigation.
Learner resources 1 and 2 can be used to enable teacher familiarisation with potential topics and as generic resources to be used throughout the course.
Place learners into groups of 3-4 learners. Each group will be asked to summarise what they believe is expected of them within either Section A or Section B of Component 03 (there may be several groups looking at each of the sections). Once learners have summarised the task, they should then work to unpick what the task (A or B) demands of them in terms of format and content.
Format/structure: What form does the assessment take? What sections might the piece be divided up into? How might the information be organised (headings, subheadings etc)?
Content: What might be included in each of the sections: What content might be discussed in the introduction, methodology, analysis, conclusion, evaluation sections? (Initially avoid providing the section titles so that learners can identify the stages of the investigation themselves)
Depending on how many groups there are for each task (A or B), ask learners to join with other groups working on the same topic or swap learners from each group so that representatives from each group make up new groups on the same topic. Allow learners time to discuss whether they have come to the same understanding of what the task (A or B) demands of them in terms of content and format. Emphasise that each group’s input will eventually lead to a fully agreed task guidance structure which they will all work towards creating.
Ask each of the groups to nominate a representative to feedback their group’s ideas to the rest of the class. Record this information in a centralised place –as new input is added, learners can negotiate what the assessment will ultimately look like in terms of content and format/str. During this feedback session, ensure that any areas of confusion are discussed and that all learners create their own task guidance notes (Learner resource three – Task Guidance Notes)
Once there is a clear consensus as to how to format the assessments and to structure the content, make it clear that it is equally important that learners are aware as to how to fully engage with the Assessment Objectives.
Ask learners to swap into groups so that they mix with learners who were working on the opposite task to them. Learners should each be given a copy of the mark scheme/AOs (it is often worth laminating several copies of the AOs and mark scheme so that they can be easily referred to in future sessions and so learners can check their progress). Learners should work together to assess how each of the AOs can be met within each of the assessment tasks (A and B). On their task guidance notes they should comment on how they will fully respond to the AOs within specific sections of the tasks. For example a detailed application of AO2 and AO3 may initially be addressed within the introduction and aims section of the investigation through learners discussing the key theories and contexts that underpin their particular area of research and outlining why this is an interesting area of study.
Ask leaners to feedback as a group on where the AOs would link to the content already discussed. Learners should collate this information on the task guidance notes sheet. Use this as an opportunity to consider how to maximise marks against each AO.
Some teachers may wish to simplify this process and initially focus on what the tasks entail – perhaps by simply explaining the tasks or providing guidance notes to learners. This may be more appropriate for learners who are likely to find the coursework overwhelming and who therefore will feel more supported if the initial introduction to the task is led by the teacher. The guidance notes sheet can be completed by the teacher and supplied to learners.
It is important to dedicate ample delivery time to enable learners to re-engage with topics and key theories that they have worked with at other points during their course of study. Spending a couple of sessions exploring past topics and introducing new related ideas can be a very useful way to support learners in identifying what they are interested in and in developing analytical skills.
Task One: What have we studied so far?
This is a simple recall/recap task, but you can add layers to this task to draw out a greater or lesser amount of detail. The aim of this task is to encourage learners to see the interconnectedness of much of the learning they have undertaken so far so you can add/adapt each stage to steer your class as you see fit.
Step one - Initially ask learners to create a spider diagram identifying all the core language themes they have covered so far during their studies. (Set a time of 2 minutes)
Step two - Next, ask learners to expand out from each of the topics to identify any key theories/concepts/attitudes linked to the topics. (Set a time of 3 minutes)
Step three - Next, ask learners to expand on the detail of the theories/concepts/attitudes (key theorists, dates, pertinent points). This should be as thorough as possible (Set a time of 7 minutes)
Step four - Next, ask learners to cross reference theories and theorists – link those who have made similar or divergent points. This can be achieved by drawing arrows between theorists and inserting comments along the arrows. (Set a time of 8 minutes)
Step five - Once learners have a complete matrix of information, ask learners to display their posters and then circulate around the posters. Ask learners to make notes on any areas that are emerging as an area of interest. Ask learners to consider further questions they may have on their potential topic of interest (or if no topic of interest has yet emerged, ask them to devise questions on an area that they feel they could learn more about)
Step six - Facilitate a full group discussion where each learner can ask questions and provide information to the rest of the group (or manage this in smaller groups made up from members from each of the initial groups if you have a large class)
Task Two – interpreting what we have studied so far
You may wish to use this activity alongside activity one or instead of activity one, either way the aim of this activity is to enable leaners to apply what they know of language to a viewpoint or theory.
Each group should be given a piece of flipchart paper. Each piece of flipchart paper should have a single viewpoint or theory on language stuck to the centre. Learner Resource Four – Viewpoints and theories on Language
Step one – the group should read the viewpoint/theory and discuss what it means. They should re-write the essence of the viewpoint/theory in their own words in a series of summarising bullet points.
Step two – the group should go on to discuss aspects of language to which they would agree their theory or viewpoint complies. They should list, and offer an explanation for each of their points that positively link to the theory/viewpoint. Learners should be encouraged to take both a specific and general view of language in order to establish concurring links to the theory or viewpoint.
Step three – the group should then discuss examples of language usage which they believe do not comply with the theory and viewpoint. They should list, and offer an explanation for each of their points that negatively link to the theory/viewpoint. Learners should be encouraged to take both a specific and general view of language in order to demonstrate where the theory or view may not apply, may in some way be of limited value or where a different viewpoint/theory may be more appropriate.
NB – if the teacher wanted learners to start thinking about academic posters they could ask the learners to present the information they have gathered in either Task 2 or Task 3, visually, in the form of an (academic) poster.
Step four – Ask learners to share their work with the whole class. Each group should be given ample time to discuss their viewpoint/theory and to invite questions and views from other members of the class. In order to move on to the next group’s feedback, request that a group who can establish a link to the previous group’s viewpoint/theory goes next. In this way you can establish an appreciation for the interconnectedness of the viewpoints/theories.
Task Three – Synthesising what we have studied so far
The aim of this task is to take some broad assumptions about language and to ask learners to interpret what they might expect to see in certain scenarios of exchanges between two or more speakers.
Learner resource Five: Assumptions and example scenarios
Step one – place learners into pairs or groups of three (depending on the scenarios you wish for them to work with). Provide each of the groupings with linked assumption and scenario cards.
Step two – learners should discuss the assumption they have been given about language. They should seek to link this assumption to any theories that they have come across and can refer to their notes or use other sources of information to clarify their understanding of the theory underpinning their assumption card.
Step three – learners should use their scenario cards to create a script that supports the assumptions (and the underlying theory). They should develop clear roles for each character in their scenario.
In writing the series of exchanges for their scenario, learners should consider:
• Content of what is said – diction/lexis, implied and explicit meaning etc.
• Manner in which the characters speak – tone, pace, pitch, pauses, emphasis etc
• Non-verbal communication tools - body language, gesture, facial expression etc
• Balance of the exchange – the amount and length of input, interruptions, turn-taking.
It would be most effective if this script could be typed to support the next task.
Step four – Learners should annotate their script describing the language features they have included and why the theory suggests the exchange is likely to take the form it has.
Step five – Learners should perform their exchange as accurately as they can. After they have performed, learners should explain how the language features demonstrated in their exchange link to the assumption and scenario they were given. (It is likely that some learners will be concerned about performing so encourage these learners to offer a fully developed explanation of their language use choices.)
This exercise should consolidate learners’ knowledge of theories and attitudes towards language usages and supports the application of analytical skills when devising what language features are likely to be present in such an exchange. However, this task should also serve as a warning about assumptions regarding language, emphasising that learners should be wary of relying on stereotypes when it comes to their own research. It is important to work with theories and be able to link language features to theories, but their own data should be the basis of their analysis on language usage.
Task Four – Applying what we have studied so far
Some teachers may wish to use this activity before or instead of activity three.
The purpose of this activity is to provide learners with an awareness of how they could apply their understanding of language related theory to actual examples of language usage.
The three clips provided can be used to develop discussion on language usage – but others can be selected by the teacher.
Step one- Each of the links will show footage of a conversation. In setting the learners up for this task, explain that they are asked to consider the power dynamic between the speakers. The power dynamic may be based on gender, age, class, roles, intellect etc.
Learners are asked to watch the clip and record what they have noted about the power dynamic between the speakers.
Learners should consider:
• Content of what is said – e.g diction/lexis, implied and explicit meaning etc.
• Manner in which the characters speak – e.g tone, pace, pitch, pauses, emphasis etc
• Non-verbal communication tools –e.g body language, gesture, facial expression etc
• Balance of the exchange –e.g the amount and length of input, interruptions, turn-taking.
• Other factors
Learner Resource Six – Recording conversation exchanges
Step two – Discuss as a full class each of the clips in relation to language theories. Ensure that you unpick the relevance of the theories, discuss whether learners think there are any reasons why the clips may present certain theory-related uses of language, discuss usage of language that they might have expected to see but did not in relation to the theories.
Any, or all, of these tasks can be used as tools to encourage learners to identify areas of language that they would like to investigate. However, it is also important to emphasise that learners should be working with concepts, theories and viewpoints linked to language in order to ensure they undertake a valid and purposeful language investigation.
In preparation for the next lesson it would be useful to ask learners to come equipped with research on key theories/attitudes/concepts that link to potential topics that they are interested in.
The aim of this lesson is to aid learners in defining the aim and scope of their investigation. By the end of this lesson learners should be in a position to write a first draft of their introduction.
Task one – Think, pair, share your ideas
At the start of the lesson it is useful to provide time for learners to reflect on topics they are considering working on and to offer opportunities for learners to discuss their fledgling ideas.
Think – ask learners to use this time to summarise what ideas for a topic(s) they have had already.
They should attempt to:
• Write a broad overview of what they are interested in (all learners should be able to do this – even if they are unclear what they wish to focus on specifically)
• In summary bullet points, link theories/concepts/attitudes etc to the broad area of study that has underpinned the choice of language investigation.
• Write a clearly defined aim for their investigation – what specifically do they intend to explore/ what do they hope to find out through their investigation on language? (Not all learners will be able to do this at this stage, but those who can should be encouraged to be as precise as they are able to be. This is an ideal opportunity to offer some guidance to those who are most uncertain as to how they can refine their broader areas of interest.) It would be useful to provide an example of a clearly defined aim for learners to model their own on.
It is important during this time that the teacher takes notes on which areas of interest are emerging, so that during the paired task learners can be placed with others considering similar areas.
Pair – Once learners have completed their personal reflections on their topic they should be paired with another member of the class who is considering a similar topic of interest.
Each learner should share their ideas and should offer advice to their partner about how to further refine/shape their investigation.
Each learner should support one another in linking appropriate theory/concepts/ attitudes etc to the investigation to provide the framework for the reasoning behind their investigation.
Share – Depending on the size of the class, during the share session you could either ask all learners to share as a full class or separate learners into sub groups.
During this time learners will again discuss their ideas for their investigation – again offering and providing advice.
The aim of this ‘share’ discussion is to enable each of the learners to:
• Create a title for their investigation (ensure guidance is provided on how to construct a focused title).
• Refine the aim(s) of the investigation further – identifying the broad focus of language and why this is an interesting/valid area of study. The specific focus of the research (the case study focus) – why this specific case study focus should prove illuminating – how does this narrow focus provide insight into the broader area of language?
• Many learners may be able to add further comments on how they intend to apply theories/concepts/attitudes linked to their area of language usage. The most able learners will be able to provide greater comment on how this investigation draws on existing theories in relation to the chosen aspect of language - What evidence (language features) shall be used to analyse the validity, reliability, usefulness or limits of the theories on language.
This is the ideal opportunity to ensure learners have enough of a clear focus to commence a serious engagement with their topic. If there are learners in the class who do not have a clear idea as to what to investigate, they can either be encouraged to embark on some independent research at this time (after a discussion about what they are interested in) or you can ask them to engage in the next task focusing on the process of extracting details of key contexts (theories/concepts/attitudes etc) to be referred to in the introduction.
Task Two – What should be included in an introduction?
Initially ask learners to identify what aspects should be covered in the introduction. (If you completed the coursework guidance task with your learners then learners need only to recall what is required.) Once learners have compiled a comprehensive list they should be able to see that they have already written about and discussed much of the key information required in the introduction in the first task for this lesson.
The part that learners are most likely to need further support on, however, is embedding the concepts and theories on language into their introduction (and indeed elsewhere in the assignment).
As a rule, those learners who can draw appropriately and consistently on two or three key theories throughout their investigation are likely to produce the most knowledgeable and focused pieces. However, theories should not be shoehorned into the investigation, instead they are to be used as the basis of the underpinning premise or assumptions about language that shall be investigated. It may be sensible at this point for learners to consider two theories that seem to suggest similar traits of language usage will be evident within their area of study and one that might provide an alternative or divergent view. In doing so the learner can demonstrate that they are aware of a range of perspectives. Learners should be encouraged to discuss the theories in the chronological frame within which they emerged. This enables learners to demonstrate an understanding of how the body of knowledge, and research into the field of study, has changed over time (this will support learners in achieving A03). Furthermore, learners can also demonstrate an awareness of which theories dominate the field of study (i.e the ones most academics subscribe to) and the emerging theories which require further investigation but that mark an interesting new path of understanding.
Ideally learners would have brought their own research on the key theories to class with them in preparation for the session. However, if they have not, or if you wish to focus this activity, the example extracts and/or videos could be used (though feel free to add or adapt any of the examples provided) It is also important to note that the videos are lengthy and so teachers may want to identify key sections or ask learners to watch outside of class time prior to the session.
Gender and language –
Gray, John (2010) ‘TEDxSF - Dr. John Gray - 4/27/10’
Deborah Tannen (2013): ‘Gender-specific language rituals’
Deborah Tannen:‘He s She saud - you just don't understand’
Multi-lingual language and language change–
Bonfiglio, Thomas Paul (2012) ‘The Invention of the Native Speaker -Thomas Paul Bonfiglio - Multilingual, 2.0?’
Cameron, Deborah (2012) ‘The one, the many and the Other - Deborah Cameron - Multilingual, 2.0?’
Chomsky, Noam (2014) ‘The Concept of Language (Noam Chomsky)’
Crystal, David, (2014) David Crystal's talk at IELTS Conference 'The Future of English', Prague 2014 (British Council)’
Kramsch, Claire (2012) ‘Authenticity and Legitimacy in Multilingual Second Language Acquisition (SLA) - Claire Kramsch’
‘Between You and I the English Language is Going to the Dogs’ (2014)
Child development of language –
Piaget, Jean (2016) ‘Jean Piaget's Cognitive and Language Development’
Soifer, Lydia (2012) ‘Dr. Lydia Soifer: The Development of Language Skills in Young Children | 92Y Parenting & Family’
Political language and political correctness-
‘Learning Jargonese’ (2010)
Chomsky, Noam (2014) ‘Political Language’
Orwell, George, ‘The Death of Language (aka Newspeak) George Orwell 1984’
Burridge, Kate (2012) ‘Euphemisms: Kate Burridge at TEDxSydney’
David Crystal (2010) – ‘Texts and Tweets: myths and realities’
McWhorter, John (2013) ‘John McWhorter: Txtng is killing language. JK!!!’
Each learner should have access to three theories on a related aspect of language that is most relevant to their own area of interest.
For each example theory learners should:
Learners are required to draw out key quotations that they may wish to use for each of the theories that they expect to work with.
For each theorist/theory learners must:
• Write a broad overview of the theory, containing the key concepts that the theory outlines.
• Embed a quotation (or two) and assess the significance of the quotation.
• Explain how the insights offered by the theory prove useful in shaping the scope of the learner’s own investigation.
Task Three - Applying the theory within the introduction
• Review the draft introductions and discuss the strengths limitations of each example.
• Rewrite the examples to include improvements.
• Apply the skills you have learnt to refine the drafted introductory points.
By this stage learners should have a clear idea as to what they intend to investigate and should have determined the source from which they shall gather their data (though perhaps only in a very basic sense – for example – they wish to investigate the dynamics of 10 year old boys discussing a football match and broadly they intend to observe such conversations.). This lesson focusses on the practical and ethical considerations learners must consider when undertaking their research.
Task One – How can we collect data?
Either in small groups or whole group discussion ask learners to consider the ways in which data can be collected. Gather all of the ideas in a centralised location so learners have access to a full list.
You may wish to use some example investigation titles as prompts to help learners consider a full range of data types and gathering methods. Discuss at this point, which is the most appropriate way to gather data for each of the example topics.
Extension: ask learners to consider which methods of data collection are most relevant to their own investigation.
Task Two – What practical and ethical consideration are there to gathering data?
Place two flip chart sheets onto the wall at the front of the classroom. On one sheet write ‘practical considerations’ and on the other write ‘ethical considerations’. Give each table group a different coloured felt tip pen. The aim of the task is for each table of learners to come up with as many parameters they will need to work within or the potential barriers or challenges that they may need to consider when collecting data. Learners from each group must write an idea onto the paper one at a time and then return to their sheets. Representatives from each group can all write on the paper at the same time. This should be a timed task so it is fast paced; use of a timer would be effective (I often use the video 'The Lion Sleeps' as a timer – when the music stops, time is up. It always adds a bit of excitement!).
Read out each of the practical and ethical considerations raised. As you work through each ask learners to consider ways in which they could overcome any potential barriers or challenges. Ask learners if there are any further considerations (and solutions) that should be discussed. Leaners should take a copy of both the considerations and the solutions.
Task Three – Considering some key terms
Ask learners to come up with explanations as to what the following terms means:
You can do this as a task drawing on learners’ own knowledge or you may wish to ask learners to watch the following video: Gibbs, Graham (2012) ‘Reliability, validity, generalizability and credibility. Pt .1 of 3: Research Quality’.
Ensure that learners fully understand that when gathering data one must bear these issues in mind so that the data they later come to analyse is truly representative. Use Learner resource seven – key concepts to record key notes for each of the terms.
Task Four– Plotting out your action plan to collect data
Ask learners to consider what steps they will need to take in order to collect the data they need. Ask them to display the data collection steps in a flow chart.
They should include:
• The key stages of gathering the research
• How long they intend/expect to spend on each task
• What resources/methods they will use to gather the research
• How they will address any practical or ethical issues
• How will ensure: usefulness, quality, reliability, validity, credibility, accuracy and generalizability
• What their backup plan might be if they are unable to attain their data
Task Five – How to record the data
It is important to explain to learners that they will need to have adequate systems to record the data as they are gathering it and within the final write up of the investigation. Although this data will not be contained within the main body of the investigation transcripts of conversations and interviews, survey questions, written extracts etc. should be collected into an appendices. Each document should be given a heading and follow a numerical system so that they can be referenced within the body of the investigation.
Discuss with learners the process they could adopt to transcribe an interview/conversation etc. Simply start with how they would attempt to transcribe the data.
Once you have discussed potential processes of transcribing you should discuss how to create a transcription system (including the key that explains what rules are being used within the system) and the importance of maintaining the system. Emphasis that there is no one correct way of transcribing data and that the most important thing is consistency.
Lesson resource Eight – Example transcripts
You can use the following example guides and transcript to aid learners in developing their own systems of transcriptions.
1. An example guide from Leicester University (complete with a useful example recording and transcription).
2. A couple of useful videos from Huddersfield University.
3. A guide from Mount St Vincent University.
4. A very thorough guide which you can offer to learners to read through in their own time.
Learners should attempt to write a transcript from one of three sets of conversation.
• The first should be an audio recording
• The second should be a video
• The third should be a recording of a conversation between two peers on a given topic (learners should be placed into groups of four to complete this task. Within the group of learners learners will be placed into two pairs. Each pair will take a turn to speak and each will take a turn to transcribe.)
You will need to create three separate activity tables in the classroom. At table one there will be access to the audio recording. Learners here will be required to listen to and transcribe this recording. The second table should have computers which show a video of a conversation. The third table should follow the task as outlined above.
It may be useful to provide headphones for this task or otherwise seek to limit the noise impact.
For each task learners will need to consider the type of data that needs to be recorded in their example data collection method. Learners can either be directed to write their transcript individually or in small groups.
Once learners have transcribed one of each of the conversations then these should be discussed as a class. The discussion should consider the clarity/consistency of the transcripts and also the aspects that may impact the rules you might chose to adopt when writing your transcript.
Task Six – Writing up the Methodology
It is important to emphasise that learners should have fully finalised their research methods approaches and may even have undertaken their various steps before they formally write up the methodology. The reason for this is that the investigation does not require learners to discuss “missteps” within the methodology and this would likely be a waste of words. As such, learners need only focus on the steps that will be/have been taken to collect the data.
The methodology should include:
• The outline of the steps taken to collect the data and why these methods have been used. Here referencing research methods adopted by theorists with whose research the learner is working is an excellent way to show a knowledge of the techniques used by academics.
• The checks they have put in place to ensure the usefulness, quality, reliability, validity, credibility, accuracy and generalisability of the data.
• The ethical and practical aspects they have had to consider.
• How they intend to use the data once it is collected. This might include how they are going to approach analysis and use the different language levels for instance.
On four separate pieces of flip chart paper write down one bullet point listed above (as pertaining to what should be included in a methodology). Give each table group one of the sheets. Provide each student with an additional A5 sheet line paper on which to write a response to the bullet point focus. Stick the responses to the flip chart paper with blue-tac.
Move learners around each sheet so that they have written a response to each.
Ask learners to return to the original poster ask them to peer assess each of the responses against the AOs and mark scheme. Ask them to provide feedback on the effectiveness of the responses. Ask them to make suggestions on improvements. Reorganise the responses from most to least effective.
Learners should circulate around each of the flipchart paper – making notes on the useful advice that has been provided on each of the pieces. Learners should be encouraged to take photographs of each of the flipchart posters in order to retain a record.
Ask learners to write complete methodologies based on what they have learnt.
Some useful insights into conducting a social research project:
Gibbs, Graham, (2012) ‘Practical Issues of Social Research Part 1 of 3 on Practical Issues and Ethics’
Gibbs, Graham, (2012) ‘The Ethics of Social Research. Part 3 of 3 on Practical Issues and Ethics’
Gibbs, Graham (2012) ‘Reliability, validity, generalizability and credibility. Pt .1 of 3: Research Quality’
There are many more videos produced by Professor Graham Gibbs, Huddersfield University that can be explored by teachers/learners to gain insights into research ethics and practices. While Gibbs is discussing university level research, many of the concerns he discusses are relevant at level three.
It is important to emphasise that the focus of the investigation should be on the analysis of the data that is found. It is also important to emphasise that learners will need to demonstrate the same language analysis skills that they have been developing throughout their course of study. It is important that learners are methodical in their approach to their analysis and this will require learners to establish how to categorise the various language levels/features that shall analysed.
Task One: Recalling how to analyse data
Record the initial interactions and introduction to the lesson and then use the recording to discuss the language use of teacher and learners. Ensure that you get learners to sign permission slips prior to the start of the session to demonstrate ethical data collection.
Watch or listen to the recording (depending on whether you videoed or recorded the beginning of the lesson) and discuss with learners the variety of language used within the session. What can be learnt from the interaction in terms of the power dynamics between teacher and learners or any other basis of comparison that the group can identify?
Learner resource nine– Record of teacher pupil conversation
Task Two: Refining the categories of language levels to be analysed
Ask each learner to write a list of language features they expect to analyse within their investigation. Each learner should expect to come up with at least five key aspects of language they know they shall need to analyse. Terms may include but shall not be limited to the following examples, including:
Generic terms such as: Lexis, phonology, semantic fields, motifs, register, discourse structure, layout, morphemic patterns, grammar, fluency markers, jargon, utterances etc etc.
Specialised terms such as: overt/covert prestige, face saving, accommodation, Convergence and divergence etc etc.
Learners should write a definition of the term and an explanation as to what such a language feature might suggest about. Learner resource ten - Language Levels for focused analysis
Each learner shall take it in turns to provide the definition of a language term to the class and learners are required from the definition to guess the term. Or learners can be given the term and will then be asked to define the term. Or learners are provided the term and the definition and are then required to explain what the presence of such a feature may suggest about a speaker/set of speakers.
Learners should write down terms, definitions and explanations for any additional terms that they are likely to need to work with.
Task Three – determining language feature/levels categories
Discuss how to categorise the language features to enable a cohesive analysis of the data.
For example a learner may choose to categorise the level of language use within a televised conversation in the following way. Verbal communication, non-verbal communication. Then sub categorise Verbal communication into – lexical choices, delivery methods, turn-taking etc.
Ask learners to chart how they shall categorise and sub-categorise the language levels within their investigation. They should demonstrate this as a flow chart Learner resource Eleven – Categorising Language level categories
Task Four - How to create numerical systems to record data
Learners are encouraged to record data numerically where they are able. For example learners wishing to consider the power dynamic between two speakers may wish to record the % of utterances each undertakes.
Follow the guidance on the wikiHow link to see how to convert raw data into tables.
Task Five – What should the analysis include?
Learners should consider what should be included in the analysis. Discuss as a class.
Learners should explore how they would approach writing about each of the following aspects that should be discussed in the analysis.
• Provide a focused overview of the language features that are present
• Make evident where these features relate to the language levels
• Discuss the significance of the features that are found (there may be multiple ways to interpret specific aspects of the data). • Draw connections to the theoretical contexts that underpin the investigation.
• Draw connections to other contexts that may have influenced the data.
• Draw out underlying patterns and trends within the data.
• To what extent the data support or challenges the original hypothesis of your investigation.
Learner resource twelve – how to write an analysis can be used to help learners record their ideas
It is important to emphasise that the conclusion is not an opportunity to repeat everything within the report. The conclusion should:
• Summarise the key findings of the investigation.
• Assess what these key findings suggest about the original focus point of the investigation.
• Assess the extent to which the findings support challenge the theoretical contexts.
Task One – Inspecting the findings
Ask learners to briefly note down comments on each of the above aspects. Once they have done this they should discuss their findings with their peers. During the discussion it is likely more insights emerge so learners should be encouraged to make notes on (or record) what they are saying. Complete Learner resource thirteen - findings record sheet
Task Two – Writing up the findings
Usually this section causes some confusion for learners as they feel they have made many of the concluding points in the analysis. It is important therefore that learners use notes they have made in the above task in order for them to understand the need for brevity in the conclusion.
Learners should draft their conclusion section. This can be peer assessed against the AOs and mark scheme in order to ensure learners are fully maximising on this section.
Task Three – Evaluating the project
Ask learners to write on a sheet of flip chart paper all of the aspects that would mean an investigation has been successful and on another sheet ask them to write all of the aspects that would mean an investigation had been unsuccessful.
Discuss these aspects as a full class. To further the discussion ask learners to comment on how unsuccessful projects might be made more successful in future. In addition, ask learners to consider how successful investigations might be built upon in future.
Ask learners to consider the extent to which their investigation was successful, How they may in future have overcome aspects that limited the success, and how they ultimately would take the research forward.
Some of these evaluation activities could be conducted as part of the process that turns the language investigation into an academic poster and using the academic poster as a way of gathering feedback for the investigation could be a useful part of the evaluation process.
All investigations should follow a consistent and recognised referencing system.
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