Research practices with child language learners

The ethical practices, dilemmas and challenges of classroom research involving child language learners are the focus of a 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 Researching Young Language Learners in School Contexts offers a rich tapestry of insights from a selection of research projects around the world, in the hope of contributing to shaping research, teacher education 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 neglected in existing work on research ethics, and suggest that a research approach which centres children as participants and even co-investigators rather than passive providers of research data is more likely to respect children’s rights, promote social justice and help researchers gain insights that can inform or challenge current policy and practice.

The authors believe that the need for high-quality research is becoming urgent as more and more countries are introducing foreign languages – particularly English – into the primary school curriculum without careful thought about the implications for children’s overall cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Dr Pinter said, “We noticed a few years ago that a great deal had been written about ethical issues in research with adult language learners but not with children even though research with child language learners is a fast-growing field.

“We wanted to put together a volume where well-known researchers in our field reflected on their work with a sharp focus on ethics and how ethics interacted with methodological choices, and offered some reflections about the dilemmas they faced in their own research.

“In bringing together the team of authors, we wanted to share the messy side of child focused research which is not often represented in neatly-written academic publications.”

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