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research methodology for language learning


Subject Linguistics

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631214823.1999.x


The most obvious thing that needs to be said as a prelude to any discussion of method, in any field, is that how to do something must surely always depend, first and foremost, on what it is we want to do and why we want to do it. It is therefore very difficult to discuss methodology sensibly except in the context of a particular research issue. Only after a research issue has been chosen can decisions be made as to what data would be relevant to its investigation and how such data will best be obtained. This remains true whatever position is adopted with regard to the choice to be made between a theory-first or a data-first approach to research in general (see theory-then-research/research-then-theory ). For example, if we are interested in investigating the use beginning language learners make of dictionaries, then one starting-point would be to formulate a theoretical position on the matter – a hypothesis – which would subsequently be tested by observing actual dictionary use. (Perhaps, for example, following the work on individual differences , we might hypothesize that different personality types could be expected to exhibit different patterns of dictionary use.) Alternatively, actual dictionary use may be observed first, with the observation itself leading to the formulation of thoughts about what might account for the different patterns of dictionary use. In either case ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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