Language Investigation
for A2
What is it?
How do you think of ideas?
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7079
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What it says on the tin
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7079
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Manageable - a small research
project in a chosen aspect of
spoken or written English in use
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Practical - 2500 words
excluding data and appendices
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Comparable – 2 or more pieces
of data
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Ethically sound – so as not to
cause offence.
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What’s the point?
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7079
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to discover something
new, something you
want to know about how
the English language
works
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to create knowledge
instead of consuming it
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to enjoy an exciting and
challenging process of
creative discovery.
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Hasn’t everything already been
discovered?
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7079
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The English language is vast
and constantly changing, so
any individual researcher will
only be focusing on a small,
carefully defined area.
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This means that investigations
you do could well be the only
research currently happening in
that area.
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And knowledge is not created
by a small number of geniuses
sitting thinking up massive new
ideas. Instead…
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Knowledge about language is
developed through…
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7079
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addition
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adding a new facet or
dimension to an existing
body of research
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an AS mini-investigation
which explored whether
there was a relationship
between idiom use and
age, adding to ideas
about youth sociolect.
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Knowledge about language is
developed through…
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clarification
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shedding light on ideas
where the evidence
seems unclear or
unfocused
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an A2 mini-investigation
which clarified the
impact of Old English
lexis on contemporary
everyday language use.
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Knowledge about language is
developed through…
!!***!*
!!**!&(*!!
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disputation
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disputing or challenging
the findings of another
language investigation
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an A2 project which
disputed Lakoff’s finding
that men use more taboo
language than women.
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Knowledge about language is
developed through…
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
exemplification
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generating additional
examples of language use to
test whether the ideas hold
good in another context
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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.
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Knowledge about language is
developed through…
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7079

offering fresh perspectives on
existing data or ideas
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re-examining ideas or data with
the benefit of new critical or
methodological tools
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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.
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Knowledge about language is
developed through…
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
improving methodological
design
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addressing the same question
with a better research method
to see if new ideas emerge
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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.
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Developing your own project
ideas
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7079
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Give yourself enough time to
experiment a bit, rather than
simply jumping at the first
idea.
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Generate lots of lines of
enquiry then pick the two or
three that you like best and
explore them further.
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Keep an open mind and
choose the one that
emerges with the most
interesting possibilities.
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Base your topic on a question or
issue…compare like with like.
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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?
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More topic ideas…
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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?
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More topic ideas…
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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
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Yet more topic ideas…
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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.
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7079
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Writing your proposal.
1.
2.
3.
4.
Your link to, or interest in the
investigation area.
The sort of data you plan to collect – a
sample would be good.
Where and how you plan to gather your
data.
The main areas of language and
features you aim to work with.
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7079
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Proposal…
5.
6.
The question or hypothesis at the heart
of your idea.
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.
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How to: surfing the web
http://languagelegend.blogspot.com
www.emagazine.org.uk
www.verbatimmag.com
© 2006 www.teachit.co.uk
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Use accessible English
Language websites to explore
what interests you most about
the subject.
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Also try typing language topics
into the search engines of
online newspapers.
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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.
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How to: make a scrapbook, fill a
photo album, keep a diary
© 2006 www.teachit.co.uk
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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.
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Go out with a camera taking
pictures of everything you can
find that connects to the study
of language.
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Keep a diary for a week,
recording everything you see or
hear that might need further
language investigation.
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How to: go and talk to someone
interesting
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There will be people all
around you who have
interesting language
biographies.
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Ask around, find out who
they are, and go and talk to
them.
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Think of some questions that
might open up interesting
discussions, and make
notes of puzzles and
questions that arise as you
talk.
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How to: play around with some
language gizmos
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Spend some time playing
around with the different
search functions of the
online OED, or a free digital
dictionary like
www.urbandictionary.com.
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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’…
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How to: find out about other
people’s research
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previous students at your
school
previous students around
the country
students and lecturers at
universities
publications such as
emagazine
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Next steps…
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Try to think of as many
initial lines of enquiry
as you can.
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Which ones puzzle
and intrigue you the
most?
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Devising a research question
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7079
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It needs to be clearly
focused and
genuinely interesting.
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Key issues are:
Whose language
use? What language
use? What context?
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Research design: types of data
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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.
25
Research design: techniques…
Corpus analysis
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7079
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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.
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Computer interfaces can
allow analysis of large
corpora, e.g. BNC.
26
Research design: techniques…
Ethnographic study
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7079
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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.
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A key feature is the
observation of the
participants in their natural
surroundings.
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Research design: techniques…
Experiments
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7079
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Variables in people and
situations are carefully
controlled, through the use
of a specific setting or
common activity.
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This is to enable the
researcher to test the effect
on language use of one or
more other variables – such
as gender or age.
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Research design: techniques…
Interviews
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structured: a predetermined
set of questions from which
there is no deviation
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unstructured: a broad topic
but no predetermined
questions
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semi-structured: a set of
prompts and points with the
wording of the questions
made up in situ.
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Research design: techniques
Surveys
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often consist of
questionnaires, in which a
set of tightly controlled
questions are asked of a
large number of people
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other types used in
language research:
recognition surveys, Rapid
Anonymous Surveys and
surveys with image or key
word prompts.
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Research ethics
Consent
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who can give consent
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freedom to choose
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disguise and deception
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confidentiality
31
Analysing the data
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practical issue:
multiple copies
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complexity of the
process
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TIME
32
Presenting the project report
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the report format
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appropriate
academic habits of
mind
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attentive focus on
relevant language
frameworks
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How to present your work.
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Cover page
Contents
Acknowledgements
Introduction – 400 words
Methodology – 250 words
Analysis – with subsections – 1450
Conclusion and evaluation – 400
Bibliography
Appendices
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AOs
– 20 marks
AO2 – 20 marks
AO3 – 10 marks
AO1
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Theories
Are
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very important.
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What it takes to get a top
grade…
sureness, judgement
and flexibility in use of
content, structure and
style for audience
a good, perceptive and
detailed linguistic
knowledge of
chosen data
insightful, clear and
succinct exploration/
understanding of concepts
of language in use in
relation to task
sound and systematic
application and
exploration of relevant
frameworks
perceptive and accurate
analysis of a range of
relevant formal and
contextual factors in data
comments with
pertinence and insight
on the effectiveness of
the approaches taken
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Language Investigation for A2