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The University of Southampton

LING6001 Research and Enquiry in Applied Linguistics

Module Overview

In this module, we explore some key concepts and ‘ways of knowing’ which are central to taking a research perspective on language learning and language teaching: the nature of theory, data, ‘truth’, idealisation, modelling, falsification etc.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• introduce the course overall by defining the scope of ‘applied linguistics’; • establish a methodology for reflecting rigorously on professional experience and practice; • theorise and question classroom practice and classroom processes; • equip course members to read the research literature with critical understanding; • introduce a range of skills for the design and conduct of small scale classroom-based/institutional research projects

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the goals of applied linguistic research;
  • the main traditions of research on language teaching and learning;
  • a comparative perspective on language education policy and practice
  • how to challenge professional practice, and undertake improvement-orientated enquiry
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • communicate applied linguistic work in a variety of written formats;
  • identify, select and draw upon a wide range of primary and secondary sources, printed and electronic;
  • develop and maintain a personal bibliography;
  • use information technology appropriately to present your research;
  • demonstrate interpersonal skills whilst working with others in the investigation of problems, and in the presentation of arguments and evidence;
  • take appropriate ethical issues into account in linguistic and educational work.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use research techniques relevant for small scale applied linguistics research;
  • Plan and carry out a small scale research investigation in the language classroom.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • recognise the significance of alternative epistemological positions in applied linguistics and the social sciences, and their relationship with theory construction, research design, and the selection of analytical techniques;
  • make use of the relationship between academic, professional, public and user conceptions of language to clarify educational policy and practice;
  • formulate researchable problems in language classrooms, and choose among alternative approaches to small scale classroom research;
  • assess the implications of theoretical and practical developments in applied linguistics for the education professions.


In the first part of the module, we explore some key concepts and ‘ways of knowing’ which are central to taking a research perspective on language learning and language teaching: the nature of theory, data, ‘truth’, idealisation, modelling, falsification etc. In the second part of the module, we study rationales for language classroom research, and a range of research approaches which have been adopted for classroom research, including systematic observation, ethnography, teaching experiments, and action research. Students also gain practice in using a number of specific research techniques (e.g. observation, interview, questionnaire design), and in reading the research literature.

Special Features

The first group of classes provide you with an introduction to the epistemological underpinnings for applied linguistics research, and engages you in a series of workshop activities which give you experience of building and critiquing theoretical models, analysing and comparing everyday, professional and academic knowledge, reflecting on educational traditions represented by members of the group, and articulating personal targets for research and enquiry. The second group of classes provide a systematic introduction to a range of research paradigms and techniques relevant to applied linguistics. You will demonstrate your critical ability, your grasp of research techniques, and your research communication skills through the various assessment activities (in-class oral presentations; research review; design and implementation of a small scale research project).

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • structured seminars for which you will prepare mainly through prior reading; • practical workshops using a variety of tasks and materials; • virtual learning environment (Blackboard). Learning activities include • Reflection on professional needs and articulation of personal study goals and targets; • Identification of relevant research resources in the library and on internet; • Group practical work e.g. trialling and evaluating different research instruments, group discussion and informal presentations; • Individual reading; • Design, implementation and reporting of small scale classroom investigation.

Independent Study102
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Allwright, D and Bailey, K M (1991). Focus on the Language Classroom. 

Chaudron, C (1988). Second Language Classrooms: Research on teaching and learning. 

McDonough, J and McDonough, S (1997). Research Methods for English Language Teachers. 

Bailey, K M and Nunan, D (eds) (1996). Voices from the Language Classroom. 

Nunan, D (1989). Understanding Language Classrooms: A guide for teacher-initiated action. 

Bell, J (1999). Doing your research project: a guide for first-time researchers in education and social science. 

Brumfit, C J & Mitchell, R F (eds) (1990). Research in the Language Classroom. 

Wray, A, Trott, K and Bloomer, A (1998). Projects in Linguistics. 

Johnson, D M (1992). Approaches to Research in Second Language Learning. 

Seliger, H W and Shohamy, E (1989). Second Language Research Methods. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Research project  (3000 words) 60%
Research review  (1500 words) 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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