Wednesday 8 February 2012

Research-led teaching / teaching-led research

I'm teaching my English in the World class this term and part of the assessment is that students take part in one of my research projects. I'm replicating one done by Andy Sewell at Lingnan University, Hong Kong, on Hongkongers' attitudes to (mostly) HKE accents and the aspects of the pronunciation of the speakers which affect intelligibility. My students are mostly British with little or no exposure to HKE. The students also have to do a sort of "blog-post" on the discussion board for the class, commenting on taking part in the research, difficulties they faced, what they liked, whether they'd set up the experiment differently, etc. I'll present the results towards the end of the term, and have recruited an RA from amongst the students to help collate the responses.

It's quite interesting to do this as it gives them the opportunity to interact (to some extent) with 1) a variety of world Englishes and 2) research. Some of them are doing dissertations at the moment (it's a mixed class of second and third years with some MA students in there too) so are already at the rock face when it comes to research design, but they still seem to appreciate the point of taking part in this and evaluating the experience. I'll be interested to see just how much the results differ from Andy's when we put them together.

Last year they acted as subjects in Peggy Mok, Low Ee Ling and my study on the perception and production of word juncture cues in British English (BE), Singapore English (SE) and HKE. We got a couple of conference papers out of that and I'm currently writing up the perception results now (when I'm not blogging / writing a chapter on world Englishes / dealing with day-to-day work issues / being a rock star).

I'm actually waiting to find out if I've won a bilateral research grant to investigate issues of intelligibility in more depth across European and South East Asian speakers of English. The result of the call is supposed to be out this month ... Wish me luck!

Students also do an analysis of a speaker of Jamaican English for the class. Last year it was an Indian English speaker and there was a bit of code-mixing in there, too, which some managed to decipher and others didn't. I'd like to think this is broadening the horizons of my students, but I sometimes wonder if they just look upon it as yet another task. I hope not.


  1. "...issues of intelligibility..." Well that's \the point!

    Whoever is in charge of the money GIVE HER THE GRANT!

  2. :) It's very hard to get grant money. I'm hoping I'll be successful but the point is to try!