Best Practices for Research with Child Language Learners Explored in New Book
The ethical practices, dilemmas and challenges of classroom research involving child language learners are at the center of a new book edited by Dr Annamaria Pinter of the University of Warwick and Dr Harry Kuchah of the University of Leeds.
Ethical and methodological issues in the research of young language learners in school contexts offers a rich palette of ideas from a selection of research projects around the world, in the hope of helping to shape research, teacher training and teaching practices in a positive way.
Dr Pinter and Dr Kuchah argue that children’s own understanding of research and their role in it has been overlooked in existing work on research ethics, and suggest that a research approach centered on children as participants and even co-researchers rather than as passive providers of research data are more likely to respect children’s rights, promote social justice and help researchers obtain information that can inform or challenge current policies and practices.
The authors believe that the need for high-quality research is becoming urgent as more countries introduce foreign languages - especially English – into the primary school curriculum without carefully considering the implications for development. cognitive, social and emotional general of children.
Dr Pinter said: “We noticed a few years ago that a lot has been written about ethical issues in research with adult language learners, but not with children, even though research with child language learners is a booming field.
“We wanted to put together a volume where renowned researchers in our field reflected on their work with an emphasis on ethics and how ethics interacted with methodological choices, and offered some thoughts on the dilemmas they faced. in their own research.
“By bringing the team of authors together, we wanted to share the messy side of child-centered research that is not often represented in well-written academic publications.
The book is divided into three sections, the first focusing on the participation of children as active participants in research; the second on ethical challenges in multilingual contexts and the third on the links between teacher training and research with children. The contributors discuss the ethical dilemmas, challenges and experiences they have encountered and faced, in studies of all kinds ranging from large-scale experimental studies to ethnographic studies involving only a handful of children.
The authors highlight the additional challenges and complexities of working with children – while the general ethical principles of informed consent, confidentiality and anonymity remain paramount, these responsibilities are not straightforward given the nature hierarchy of schools, where teachers and parents are accustomed to making decisions on behalf of children and young people, and the influence of extracurricular factors.
Dr Kuchah added: “The search for young language learners in school settings is a fascinating but complex network in itself and needs to be approached with care and reflection.
“The idea for the book arose from our discussions of different methodological activities with young learners and our realization that children in different school contexts react to the same practices in completely different ways.
“The chapters of this book have all challenged and enriched our thinking about the need for contextual awareness in research. We have found that there are many extracurricular factors that could influence and actually do influence the way children interact in research encounters and that both “ insider ” and “ outside ” researchers will need to invest in understanding these. factors in their design of research activities with children.
“We suggest that all researchers – regardless of their purpose and the type of role they choose to assign to children – should familiarize themselves with relevant official ethical guidelines, explore the characteristics of local contexts, and explicitly develop their own awareness. reflective ethics to guide them. through their work. School research that is sensitive to the family and children’s learning context and underpinned by global and local ethical considerations can help make the implementation of language education policies more effective in each context.