Data Collection

Analysis (and setting up data collection):

You should focus your analysis on a specific aspect of the learners’ developing L2 competence, which may necessitate setting up the data collection accordingly.

For example, you might take a functional perspective: how do the learners express futurality? How do they talk about the past? How do they indicate conditionality? If you’re looking for any of those functions, you need to set up tasks that elicit them. For example, to get learners to talk about the future, you may need to ask them “what will you do 5 years from now?” To elicit past tense, you can ask “tell me about a time when you were very happy / very scared” or “what was it like when you first came to Australia?”  You don’t have to rigorously interview them—if they get talking, let them talk.  However, with very low-level learners it may be necessary to prompt them more and that’s fine.


You could also focus on something like articles, which is easy to elicit (and doesn’t need very specific tasks) but difficult to analyze, question formation (which is not easy to elicit except in quite artificial and controlled tasks), or negation (also not easy to elicit).  If you like (and have the background knowledge), you can also look into pronunciation or discourse organization, e.g., how do they establish coherence within and between sentences and at a textual level?


Whatever you focus on, you should identify patterns and regularities in the learner’s production.  For example, you may try to explain why they sometimes provide past tense morphology but other times they do not.  For this, you could look at the kinds of verbs that get marked for PAST or the kinds of activities they express (do dynamic verbs get marked but stative verbs don’t, for example).  Also, they may express the idea of PAST semantically rather than syntactically.


If your data collection is from one learner on two different tasks, consider the task or modality effect (retell vs. free speech; with/without some planning time).  If your data is from two different learners, you can compare the two learners’ productions in terms of who’s further ahead in their L2 development or you can just describe how they differ and speculate as to why.


Data Collection Assignment: Structure


You should structure your paper like a journal article. However, you are limited to 3000 words, so you’ll have to keep everything quite brief and concise.


  1. Background / Lit Review (about 25-35%): Talk briefly about SLA research with regard to learners’ IL development.
    If using accuracy / complexity / fluency analyses, you should also briefly talk about what these features are and what they show about the learner’s interlanguage.
    If using form-function or function-form analysis, briefly describe the phenomenon you’re focusing on and its regularities.
  2. Research Question: State what you were looking for as a research question or hypothesis.
  3. Methods (10-20%): Describe your participant(s), instruments, data collection procedures, and analytical procedures. This is where you can describe your coding of AS-units and what level of analysis you were using for your computations.
  4. Results (10-20%): Describe your findings. You can do this quantitatively (frequency counts, percentages) or qualitatively (categories, examples).  Make it clear what patterns you saw in the data.
  5. Discussion (20-30%): Discuss your findings, wherever possible making reference to relevant literature. You could also merge Results and Discussion.
  6. List of references (not included in word count): Should follow APA format.
  7. Appendices (not included in word count): Attach the transcripts of your learners’ oral production or written texts.


Make sure you use 12 point font, double spacing, normal (2-3 cm) margins, and correct spelling and grammar. In-text citations and the appendix need to follow APA format.



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