Chapter 5: Methodological considerations
Chapter 5 Methodological considerations There are essentially two methods of learner language data collection: elicitation and observation. Language samples can be obtained either through observing naturally-occurring language that satisﬁes some communicative or aesthetic need, or through specially designed instruments that elicit responses from the learner. In addition, as Corder (1976) suggests, we can make a distinction between two kinds of elicitation: clinical and experimental. While clinical elicitation relies on getting the informant to produce data of any sort and is used in cases where no well-formed hypotheses about the nature of the investigated aspects of production exist, experimental elicitation involves inducing speciﬁc features of language in learners’ production. As the goal of the current study lay in documenting all potential errors made by German and Polish high school pupils, concentrating on capturing speciﬁc aspects of learners’ performance did not constitute the appropriate methodological approach. Instead, it was reasoned that data collection should ascertain a sample of learners’ output that would invoke the use of various components of communicative competence. The argument rested on the assumption that tapping various elements of communicative competence would result in a broad array of error types. Any test in which major elements of the construct of interest are underrepre- sented lacks validity (Hughes, 2003). Therefore, it was imperative to establish a data collection setting that would require free language production and call upon learners’ linguistic, pragmatic and sociolinguistic skills. 116 5. Methodological considerations Observation and recording authentic data, despite its relative lack...
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