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SECOND LANGUAGE ACQUISITION

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

By:

Ghasella Makhpirokh Haucsa 21170140000012


Haqim Hasan Albana 21170140000021

GRADUATE PROGRAM OF ENGLISH EDUCATION

FACULTY OF EDUCATIONAL SCIENCES

SYARIF HIDAYATULLAH STATE ISLAMIC UNIVERSITY

JAKARTA

2017
A. Preface
Second Language Acquisition or commonly called SLA is not an alien thing
in study of language field. In this case, Rod Ellis sees SLA as a systematic study
of how people acquire a second language (Rod Ellis 1997, p.3), almost the same
view as Rod, Muriel defines SLA as a study of individuals and groups who are
learning a language subsequent to learning their first, second and come after them
one as young children, and the process of learning those languages (Muriel
Saville-Troike 2006, p.2). As a study, it has to fulfill the requirement to become a
reliable and accurate study, and could be connected and associated to other
disciplines. Hence, it is a certain that a research is close to this study.
As a good field of study, SLA becomes an interesting object to be studied
further. Therefore, many researchers have conducted many researches toward this
study. As stated by Hatch and Farhady that “Research is a systematic approach to
finding answers to question (Hatch and Farhady 1982, p.1), hence, many
researchers have attempted to dig out anything questioned in SLA through this
way. As we know that research is one way to find out and prove something
scientifically.
As other studies, many researchers conducted their research through many
ways and methodologies. In this paper, we would like to provide and portray the
methodology used in SLA. In this paper, we focus on elaborating on what Diane
Larsen and Michael H-Long compiled in their book. They had compiled such a
sufficient view relate to SLA research.
In this paper, we would like to give a general model and approach on doing
SLA research. Some methodologies and their features will be portrayed in this
paper, and completed by some examples of research that were conducted by
previous researchers which show the model of SLA research.

B. Content
Dealing with research, there are two fundamental paradigm that commonly
used by researcher, they are qualitative and quantitative. In the context of SLA,
both methodologies are intensively adopted based on the purpose of study.

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Chronologically, both qualitative and quantitative are preceded by the debate
between cognitive psychologist and behaviorists as to the character of human
learning. The debate was on Chomsky concept about theory of language
acquisition and learning which is cognitive psychology and it contradicts with
behaviorism. Hence, further studies were conducted recently by doing whether
qualitative model or quantitative model.

1. Qualitative vs Quantitative Methodologies


Today, it is fair to say that SLA has varied inventory of methodologies with
which to deal with questions. Indeed, it is usual that researchers in SLA, some
prefer to adopt qualitative and some tend to use quantitative methodology. As the
result, plenty of researches come to the result in varied way.
The essence of qualitative is an ethnographic study in which the researchers
do not set out to test hypotheses, but rather to observe what is present with their
focus, and consequently the data, free to vary during the course of the observation.
A quantitative study, on the other hand, is best typified by an experiment designed
to test a hypothesis through the use of objective instruments and appropriate
statistical analyses. Although they are different in carrying the way to approach
the research, however, both methodologies are useful and meaningful in research
with their own advantage and disadvantage.
In SLA context, qualitative and quantitative can be represented as
longitudinal and cross-sectional studies (Diane Larsen & Michael H Long 1991,
p.53). As a further, Diane and Michael stated that a longitudinal approach (often
called a case study in the SLA) typically observing the development of linguistic
performance, usually the spontaneous speech of one subject, when the speech data
are collected at periodic intervals over a span of time. In a cross-sectional
approach, the linguistic performance of a larger number of subjects is studied, and
the performance data are usually collected at only one session. Furthermore, the
data are usually elicited by asking subjects to perform some verbal task, such as
having subjects describe a picture.

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The longitudinal approach could easily be characterized by at least three of
the qualitative paradigm attributes: naturalistic (use of spontaneous speech),
process-oriented (in that it takes place over time), and ungeneralizable (very few
subjects). The cross-sectional approach is easily categorized from the
corresponding attributes of quantitative paradigm: obtrusive, control measurement
(use of artificial tasks), outcome-oriented (in that it takes place at only one point
in time) and generalizable (larger group of subjects). Here is the concise
comparison between qualitative and quantitative that commonly seen in general
field.

Qualitative Paradigm Quantitative Paradigm


Advocates the use of qualitative Advocates the use of quantitative
methods methods
Phenomeonologism and verstehen: Logical-positivism: “seeks the facts or
“concerned with understanding human causes of social phenomena with little
behavior from actor’s ow frame of regard for the subjective states or
reference”. individuals”.
Naturalistic and uncontrolled Obtrusive and controlled measurement
observation
Subjective Objective
Close to the data; the “insider” Removed from the data; the “outsider”
perspective perspective.
Grounded, discovery-oriented, Undergrounded, verification-oriented,
exploratory, expansionist, descriptive, confirmatory, reductionist, inferential,
and inductive and hypothetico-deductive
Process-oriented Outcome-process
Valid; “real”, “rich”, and “deep” data Reliable; “hard” and replicable data
Ungeneralizable: single case studies Generalizable: multiple case studies.
Holistic Particularistic
Assumes a dynamic reality Assumes a stable reality

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Based on the distinction above, it can be realized that each methodology
carries its own characteristic and can be efficiently beneficial to the research
based on the purpose or question of the research.
In the context of SLA, the process of longitudinal and cross-sectional can be
conducted together as a combination. In one occasion, Dato conducted a study of
the acquisition of Spanish by English-speaking children using three groups of
English speakers with varying levels of exposure to Spanish. At the start of study,
Group (a) had been exposed to Spanish for one month, whereas Group (c) had had
three months of exposure. Dato collected data four times from each of three
different groups. The data collected at any one time constitute a cross-sectional
study, while all data for a particular group provide a longitudinal view. The data
from all three groups offer a basis for cross-checking generalizations on both the
outcome at any one time and of the process over time.
From the discussion and explanation above, it can be seen that longitudinal
and cross-sectional should not be associated exclusively. We could say that
methodology is important, however, researcher has to be clear in deciding the
purpose of the study and match that purpose with the appropriate attributes of
methodology. Despite of the discussion between the two paradigms, Diane and
Michael offered the model of method arranged along with the two paradigms
which could be adopted to recent research.

a. Introspection
What comes first is introspection. It is a method which could be seen as the
ultimate qualitative study in which, with guidance from the researcher, learners
examine their own behavior for insights into SLA. The applicant of this old
research method faces challenge towards the validity of self-report data. Many
sides argue and question about its validity, however, O’Malley et al. stated that
this method could be success when researchers interview the learners themselves,
less success when researcher interview students’ teacher, and little success when
researcher merely comes from their own observation.

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b. Participant Observation
In participant observation, researchers take part in the activities they are
studying. They do not approach the study with any specific hypotheses in mind;
rather they take notes on whatever they observe and experience. The notes are
recorded immediately, so it allows to be fully participate in them. It will lead to
long period of observation with a small number of subject.
In the context of SLA, an example of this research was from K. M. Bailey’s
study (1980) of her experience as a student of French. The data from the study
were collected by means of diary entries recorded by Bailey during her French
course. The entries consisted of observations of her fellow students and the
teacher.
c. Non-Participant Observation
This type of research contradicts with the previous type. This method enables
researcher to observe activities without engaging in the directly. It makes them fee
to take notes and/or make tape recordings during the observation itself. As with
the participant observation, the subjects are usually few in number and the period
of study relatively long.
In the SLA field, non-participant observations are usually referred to
longitudinal case studies, the classic example being Leopold’s study of his
daughter’s simultaneous acquisition of English and German during the period
1939-1949. Leopold made a daily record of his observations, resulting ultimately
in a monumental four-volume work.
d. Focused Description
It goes further to discuss about descriptive study. Focused Description, is one
method which has similar type as previous research. The difference between them
is that researchers who use a focused descriptive methodology do so they intend
to narrow the scope of their study in particular set of variables, a particular system
of language (e.g. morphology) or to explore particular issue (e.g. the influence of
the native language in SLA). According to Van Dalen (in Cook 1965),
“Descriptive studies may classify, order and correlate date seeking to describe
relationships that are discoverable in phenomena themselves”.

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The example of focused description studies in SLA context which seek to
classify data are those that use interaction analysis. Specific example was FOCUS
(Foci for Observing Communication Used in Settings) (Fanselow 1977) and
COLT (Communicative Orientation of Language Teaching) (Allen, Forhlich and
Spada 1984). The purpose of these instruments is to classify the communications
people send and receive. Questions are addressed such as who talked in the
classroom and to what extent. Dealing with the focused descriptive study which
seeks to order data, the example derived from Dulay and Burt’s (1974) study of
morpheme acquisition. These researchers used cross-sectional approach and an
instrument (the Bilingual Syntax Measure) to obtain samples of speech
performance in children. Despite two models above, focused descriptive also has
a correlative in nature seek to determine if two phenomena are related, and if so,
the degree to which they are. Gardner and Lamberts’s (1972) conducted this
research by studying the relationship between leaners’ motivation and their
second language proficiency.
e. Experiment
This method seeks to determine if a specific treatment influence an outcome.
One of experiment methods is true-experiment where the researchers attempt to
establish a causal relationship between some treatment and some consequences. In
true-experiment, in order to establish such a relationship, two criteria must be
satisfied: (1) there must be experimental and control groups, and (2) the subjects
must be randomly assigned. It allows the researchers to assume that the two
groups are comparable to start with. The purpose or having the two groups in the
study is that if one group is treated in one manner, and another in a different
manzner and their post-treatment are different, it can be concluded that the
behaviour differs as a consequence of their different treatments.
f. Pre-experiment
Pre-experiment is one of research methods which fails to meet both criteria as
stated in true-experiment. This method only has one single group (without control
group) and the subjects are also not randomly assigned. One type of pre-
experimental design is called the one-group pretest-posttest design. This design

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includes a pretest followed by a treatment and posttest for a single group. The
researchers study a single group and provide an intervention during the
experiment.
g. Quasi-experiment
Quasi-experiment is closer to the true experiment in that one of two criteria of
experimental design is met. The result is that one of the two sources of invalidity
can be eliminated. Quasi-experimental designs do not require random assignment
of subjects to groups but do include one or more control groups.
Although quasi-experiment are not as adequate as the true experimental
designs (since the sources of bias are not amply controlled), they are substantially
better than the pre-experimental designs, with regard to control of the threats to
validity.

2. Setting
Accompanying the perspective shift from research on the teaching process to
research on the learning process was the expressed need to truly understand the
acquisition process in its natural state.
In the classroom setting, language is organized according to the presentation
of rules, often given one at a time and in strict sequence, and teacher’s feedback
on error, particularly for violations of rules in the linguistic code. Meanwhile, in
naturalistic settings, there is no formal articulation of rules and emphasis is on
communication. Error correction, if it occurs at all, tends to focus on meanings of
messages communicated.

3. Instrumentation: Production Data Elicitation


In addition to setting, the issue of naturalness arises with regard to the type of
data which the researcher collects. One of the features which varies along the
qualitative/quantitative is whether the instrumentation is used or not. Researchers
who prefer qualitative method would reject the use of instruments to elicit data,
favouring spontaneous or natural data. Meanwhile, for the researchers who prefer
quantitative methods would choose to use instruments in their studies.

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Instruments are referred to a variety of names: elicitation procedure,
elicitation device, technique for eliciting performance data, data-collection or
data-gathering device, a task or even a test. Below are the elicitation procedures or
instruments employed in SLA research today.
a. Reading Aloud
This procedure has been used in studies researching pronunciation in a
second language (Beebe 1980b; Flege 1980). Subjects are asked to read aloud
word lists, sentences or passages which have an abundance of particular sounds in
representative environments. The subjects' performance is recorded for later
analysis.
b. Structured Exercises
In this procedure, the subjects are asked to perform some grammatical
manipulation so that researchers can study subjects' performance with regard to
specific morphemes or syntactic patterns. Some exercise types which have been
utilized are transformation exercises, fill-in-the-blanks with the correct form,
sentence-rewriting, sentence-combining, and multiple choice.
c. Completion Task
In one form of this task, the subjects listen or read the beginning of a sentence
and are asked to complete it using their own words. Richards (1980) used this
procedure to study infinitival and gerundive complements. He gave each subject
the start of a sentence including a verb which could take either complement. The
subjects then were asked to complete the sentence. Bialystok (1982) had the
subjects to complete a text. Subjects were asked to read a written dialogue and a
brief summary statement. The subjects were then asked to complete the dialogue.
d. Elicited Imitation
The usual elicited imitation procedure is to have the researchers read a
particular set of sentences containing examples of the structure under study (or
better, play a taped reading since it standardizes such aspects as rate of delivery)
to the subjects. The subjects are asked to imitate each sentence after it is read. The
procedure is based on the assumption that if the sentence is long enough, a
subject's short-term memory will be taxed and consequently the subject will be

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unable to repeat the sentence by rote. What the subject will have to do, instead, is
to understand the sentence and to reconstruct it using his or her own grammar.
e. Elicited Translation
The subjects are given a sentence in their native language and are asked to
translate it into their second language or vice versa. Such a procedure requires
both the decoding of the stimulus sentence and the encoding of the translation, so
that subjects' performance approximates natural speech production.
f. Guided Composition
Subjects produce oral or written composition in response to some set of
organized stimuli. Picture sequences can be used by the subjects to tell a story as
stimuli. The subjects can also be asked to write a composition based on an
arrangement of content words given.
g. Question and Answer (with stimulus)
The subjects look at a picture or a series of pictures and answer questions
designed to elicit particular structures under study. Bialystok (1982) had the
subjects listen to sixteen personalized situations which are described in a few
sentences and end it with a question. The subjects then were asked to give a
contextually appropriate response.
h. Reconstruction
This procedure has also been called 'story retelling' by Hulstijn and Hulstijn
(1984) and 'paraphrase recall' by Connor and McCagg (1983). The subjects read
or listen to a story or watch a movie. Then they are asked to retell or reconstruct
the story orally or in writing.
i. Communication Games
Scarcella and Higa (1981) used this in their study. Native English speakers
were paired with both child and adolescent ESL learners. Each pair was asked to
use pieces of plastic to replicate a picture they had been given. Their
conversations were audiotaped and transcribed. The transcriptions were analysed
for the native-speaker input received by the ESL learners of different ages and the
negotiation the learners performed to manage the input. Meanwhile, Lightbown,
Spada and Wallace (1980) gave the subjects ten sets of cards. Each set consisted

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of four pictures which differed from each other minimally. The subject was asked
to choose one of the four and to describe it to the researcher so the researcher
would know which picture the subject had selected. The pictures were specifically
designed to provide contexts in which the structures under study would be likely
to occur.
j. Role Play
In a role play, the speech act can be kept constant while the contextual
features are varied. In this way, many dimensions of a learner's pragmatic
competence may be explored. In Fraser, Rintell and Walters' procedure, the
subjects were asked to participate in a more or less structured role play with the
researcher. Other researchers have used role plays with puppets when the subjects
have been children.
k. Oral Interview
Researchers vary in the way they use oral interviews as an elicitation
procedure. Some exercise control over the topics with the hope that they can steer
the conversation in such a way that subjects will be encouraged to produce the
structure being studied. Other researchers, while acknowledging that an oral
interview is constrained in certain ways, allow subjects freedom in choosing what
topics should be discussed. In so doing, it is hoped that subjects will tend to
become involved in the subject matter of the conversation and consequendy
produce more spontaneous speech.
l. Free Composition
Aside from the establishment of a topic, there is no intervention by the
researcher. Of course, a topic itself can encourage the production of certain
structures as opposed to others. For instance, if it is the case that the researcher is
studying something as ubiquitous as grammatical morphemes, then specifying that
the writer has to relate some past experience gives the researcher ample data with
which to study the acquisition of how the subject expresses past time, although it
does not guarantee that subjects will do so using past tense morphemes.

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4. Variability Problem
There is a major problem on the use of instruments in the research.
Researchers must be aware that subjects' performance varies from task to task.
Some researchers still expect the subjects' performance to be the same from task
to task. Because some of them still have a perspective that if the subjects had
acquired a particular structure, then they should be able to use it in all context.
To test this logic empirically, Larsen-Freeman (1975b) created five tasks in
her study of morpheme acquisition by ESL learners. When subjects’ performance
was compared from task to task, a great deal of variation was detected. The tasks
were deliberately designed to require the subjects to use different skills. This was
expected to result in inflated scores for one task compared with another, but it was
not anticipated that for some tasks certain morphemes would receive high scores
and for other tasks low. Krashen (1975) suggested that Larsen-Freeman's results
varied because for some of the tasks the learner was given more time and was
encouraged to focus on the linguistic form of his or her performance; other tasks
were more communicative in nature so that the learner's attention would be drawn
more to the message he or she was trying to convey. The different task demands
would therefore yield different performance scores.
An elicited translation task, for instance, encourages a word-for-word
rendition. Thus, it is not surprising that such tasks yield a higher proportion of
errors which can be traced back to the influence of the native language. There are
no easy generalizations in SLA. Thus, multiple observations are important in
naturalistic observation.

5. Instrumentation: Intuitional Data Elicitation


Relates to intuitional data, it could be defined in many ways. The first, it
refers to data on learners’ competence (the speaker-hearer’s knowledge of
language) (Fraser, Rintell and Walters 1980). Others refer to it as metalinguistic
judgement data (Chaudron 1983) or intuitional data (Corder 1981). Corder
explains why it is important in SLA. He argues that researchers have to consider
any other aspect outside of linguistic field to determine learners’ ability. It means

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that the we have to see learner’s intuition to judge his/her proficiency in acquiring
language. Hence, researcher has to be able in digging out the source of learners’
ability.
Diane and Michael provide four elicitation procedures to obtain learners’
intuitions.
a. Error recognition and correction.
It allows learners to locate and state the error from the utterances which
learners produced. Then learners are given the chance to put the correction based
on their knowledge. This research had been conducted by Cohen and Robbins.
b. Grammatically judgement.
This procedure enables researchers to provide utterances in correct and
ungrammatically form. Then learners are tasked to give a judgement towards the
utterances given.
c. Other judgement tasks.
Other judgement task is a procedure that instructs the learners to rate or judge
deviant and well-formed sentences in terms of their social ability. Eisenstein and
Berkowitz asked ESL learners to rank sentences according to how easy they
thought it would be to understand them. In this latter study, subjects listened to
three speakers: one standard English speaker, one working-class English speaker
and one nonnative speaker.
d. Card sorting.
In this procedure, pictures or sentences are placed on cards and learners are
asked to categorize or rankorder them. Guiora et al. (1982) adopted this procedure
by to test the ability of children to discriminate gender differences; and by Tanaka
and Kawada (1982), who had subjects order a set of twelve cards (each bearing a
second-language sentence) from the most polite to the least polite.

6. Instrumentation: Use of Miniature Language


Elicitation procedures associated with miniatures languages often elicit both
linguistic production and intuitional data. In second language learning context,
Dunkel (1948) used the concept of miniature language to experiment on the effect

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of instruction. He, however, used of a real language, rather than creating an
artificial one. In his study a short series of lessons in Farsi was constructed in
alternate forms so that visual and auditory presentation could be evaluated. One
group received the material in visual form, the other in auditory form, and the
results were compared. More recently, McLaughlin (1980) has made the case for
the use of miniature artificial languages to study the process of second language
acquisition.

7. Instrumentation: Affective Variables


If we go deeper to the research in SLA, we will find another function of
instrumentation. Instrumentation has not only been used in SLA research to elicit
learner speech intuitions. It has been used to research effective variables such as
attitudes and motivation as well. There are five procedures offered related to this
instrumentation:
a. Questionnaires. This procedure is commonly used in affective factors. In SLA
context this procedure is used to get language learners to self-report their
attitudes or personal characteristic. Usually this procedure is designed by
such statement related to research and drawing by scaling the response of
statement.
b. Sociometry. Good researcher must be able to understand the condition of the
subject research. In this case, sociometry usually used to measure the
affective side of minority group members with in a group. In SLA context,
researcher could not treat children equally with young learner. Researcher
could not asked the children’s attitudes directly, hence, researcher must use a
strategy using sociometry. The data collected through this procedure is
commonly drawn in diagrammatic map called sociogram.
c. Matched guise technique. The matched guise is used to elicit attitudes
towards speakers of other languages. Practically, for instance, this technique
is applied by asking students to judge the recorded voice obtained from
bilingual resource by reading text. In this case, students are not aware that
they are listening to the same speakers in two languages.

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d. Diary study. a diary study is an introspective account of a second language
experience as recorded in a first-person journal (Bailey and Achsner 1983).
This technique can be used to study both second language teaching and
second language learning. In SLA field, Schumann and Schumann came as
the pioneer who applied this technique. They kept diaries on their language-
learning experiences.
e. Focused introspection. This technique is actually seen as additional technique
after questionnaires and interview are considered insufficient for measuring
students’ feelings and attitudes. One of the purposes of the procedure is to
confront the subjects with audio or video recordings of themselves and to
collect information from the subjects on what they were feeling during the
interaction, their attitudes towards the interlocutor at the time.

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REFERENCES

Creswell, John W. (2008). Educational Research Planning, Conducting, and


Evaluating Quantitative and Qualitative Research. New Jersey: Pearson
Education, Inc.

Diane Larsen, Freeman, & Michael. H. Long. (2014). An Introduction to Second


Language Acquisition Research. New York: Routledge.

Ellis Rod. (2003). Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University


Press.

Saville Muriel, & Troike. (2006). Introducing Second Language Acquisition.


Edinburg: Cambridge University Press.

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