LEIP Workshop January 2016

January 15th and January 16th, I attended the Linguistic Ethnography in Practice (LEIP) Workshop. This was honestly one of the best events I have attended so far.  The atmosphere was relaxed and familiar. Mainly PhD students and early career researchers joined us at Leeds University. The event lasted for two days and I attended all workshops. The focus was very much on working with authentic, “rough”, and relevant data. Although the research (and the data) presented in the three workshops was very diverse, there still were striking similarities. I’ve come across Linguistic Ethnography (LE) again and again, but I am still struggling to really pin it down. Yet, after seeing actual data (and what researchers later do with this data), I finally have a better understanding of which forms  LE can take. Whereas some argue that LE is like a toolbox that offers a variety of ways ‘to do’ research, others prefer the concept of Ethnography and Linguistics being two ways that meet or intersect. PersonallyI like Ben Rampton’s notion that Ethnography ‘opens up’ Linguistics  and Linguistics ‘ties down’ Ethnography.

  1. Workshop: Lukasz Daniluk

Lukasz presented extracts of his data on Polish rap culture in the UK and in Poland. He mainly collected his data through video recorded, semi-structured interviews. In my understanding, Lukasz’s research touches upon topics such as identity, multilingualism and  transculturalism.He showed us two video-recorded interviews with Polish rappers, living in the UK. We were also given transcripts of the interviews. The videos were short (2-4min each) and Lukasz asked fairly opened-ended questions (e.g. What kind of music influenced your work?). Firstly, it was interesting and helpful to see, how he navigated through the interview. Lukasz is a very skillful and resourceful interviewer. He was able to create a comfortable atmosphere and did a fantastic job in giving the interviewees enough time and space to express themselves. Secondly, I learned a lot from working with the actual transcripts. This was pretty ‘eye-opening’. The transcripts particularly showed me, how important attention to detail is.

2. Workshop: Anne Preston

Anne showed us data from a project that explored the extend to which self-organized learning environments (SOLEs) can help children master computational thinking concepts. Anne’s data included  two short video clips of the same situation. Again, the video clips were supported with printed out transcripts. The first video showed participants working in a classroom setting. Anne used a 360* degree camera to film this. Different angles of the same footage were then combined in the video (see picture below).

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I really, really liked this method of collecting data. Four students  worked on a particular topic (“what is learning?”). For this task, they were given a laptop with internet access. The aforementioned camera was set in the middle of a table. The students were sitting in pairs opposite of each other at that table. However, the camera was able to record multimodal interaction of all participants, hence, offering a very rich source of visual and auditive data.

The second video Anne showed us, was data on meta level (see picture below); the left-upper corner of the video shows the already mentioned 360* degree camera. This is supported with the recorded screen activity of the laptop that the participants used (upper-right corner). On bottom of the video, Anne recorded the gestural activity of the participants. Therefore, she used specifically designed wristbands that the participants were wearing at the time of data collection. These wristbands tracked and recorded hand movement. This data can then be used and interpreted to determine, what the participants  were doing at a particular time (e.g. writing on a keyboard, browsing a book etc…). Hence, her research is truly multimodal. Not only do we have visual and auditive data, but also gestural micro-data. Anne used ELAN to edit her videos (as seen in the picture below).

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3. Workshop: Sarah Lund

Lastly, I attended Sarah’s workshop. She presented data from a volunteer-led, non-formal English class in Sheffield. Sarah works with adult first generation migrants learning English as an additional language. She played  an audio recording to us, which covered a conversation between three language learners. Sarah also gave us transcripts of the conversation. Again, seeing and working with the data was a rewarding and eye-opening experience. It was quite interesting to see, how different people would interpret the same data.

In conclusion:

This was a very helpful workshop. It was great to see how people actually do research. It was even better to see ‘rough’ data. There is a big difference between the polished product (journal article) and the ‘naked’ data. Furthermore, I have now a better understanding, what form  LE can take. Lastly, I was able to network, find out about exciting ways of collecting data and made some new friends on the way.

In July 2016, the next ELIP workshop will take place in Cardiff, an event I will most certainly attend.

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