December 2007. Volume 2 Issue 3
Capturing L2 Spoken English: Methodological Challenges
MARA University of Technology-Shah Alam, Malaysia
Joanne Rajadurai is a lecturer in the TESL Department of the Faculty of Education, MARA University of Technology, Malaysia. Her research interests lie in the area of sociolinguistics, and include issues of intelligibility and identity in spoken English. Her recent publications include ‘Intelligibility studies: a consideration of empirical and ideological issues’ in World Englishes (2007), and ‘Intelligible Pronunciation: Focus on the Proficient L2 Speaker’ in The Journal of Asia TEFL (2007).
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This paper is essentially a consideration of methodological issues in L2 studies, with a focus on collecting production data in non-native contexts. It begins with a discussion of past techniques for investigating L2 speech, and then makes a case for new ways of examining the speech of proficient speakers of second language varieties of English in an attempt to understand how they co-construct English in multilingual settings. Drawing on a multiple case study that was conducted among a selected group of proficient speakers of English in Malaysia, the paper offers a critical description and evaluation of a technique used to gather spoken data generated in a variety of naturalistic contexts. In particular, it evaluates the selection and preparation of participants, the research tools and procedures used, and the roles and relationships involved in the research. It is hoped that the issues raised in this paper will offer new methodological possibilities and serve as a resource for researchers in multilingual communities.
Keywords: methodology, second language, spoken data, case study