Undertaking research bilingually / multilingually

Many of the students in the LTE doctoral community are TESOL practitioners from around the globe. Their research often builds on their research complex contextual, linguistic and cultural resources. One fascinating outcome of this, an outcome which rarely receives much attention, are the possibilities arising for undertaking research bilingually / multilingually even though the overall academic context at LTE / Manchester is English-medium.

For example, a TESOL practitioner from Taiwan, fluent in both Mandarin and English, might undertake interviews with her colleagues in Taiwan, interviews in which all participants are first language users of Mandarin. In such a case, the interviews might very appropriately be conducted in Mandarin. But in such a case, when would she translate the interview transcripts – as part of the transcription process in readiness for analysis? Or selectively after analysis in Mandarin in order to make the analysis process and findings available for an English-reading audience?

The following conference paper represents a first attempt to explore this area through supervisor / supervisee reflections on the Mandarin-English data / analysis in the doctoral studies by Xiaowei Zhou and Tzu-Hsuan Liu as supervised by Richard:

Fay, R. Zhou, X. and Liu, T-H. (forthcoming, 2010). Undertaking narrative inquiry bilingually against a monolingual backdrop. Paper (to be) presented at “Narrative Matters 2010 – Exploring the narrative landscape: Issues, investigations, and interventions” to be hosted by the CIRN in Fredericton, May 20th – 22nd 2010, New Brunswick, Canada.

Less sucessfully, in January 2010, Richard, Xiaowei and Tzu-Hsuan put in an article proposal (“Undertaking narrative research bilingually in a TESOL context”) for a special issue of TESOL Quarterly on narrative and TESOL (for Sept 2011). Also unsuccessful in this regard was Tanya Halldorsdottir but it was good to see Manchester narrativists aiming high.

Building on the above activities, there are plans, for July 2010, to hold a seminar on this theme in conjunction with Professor Mike Byram and his PhD students working bilingually / monolingually at the University of Durham, UK.

If this theme is of interest to you – e.g. you have experiences of undertaking research bilingually / monolingually yourself which you’d like to share – post a message to this discussion thread