Focus groups with Chinese students

The study was carried out using a specific focus group (hereafter FG) methodology (see Wang 2012) involving group discussions of information taken from Crystal (2008), Deterding (2006), Jenkins (2003) and Xu (2008) concerning the spread of English, the concept of ELF, the difference between ELF and EFL, and some features emerging in Chinese speakers' English (see Appendix 1). FGs allow the investigation of dynamic interactions among group members regarding 'focused' issues, taking the form of group discussion with the presence of a moderator (Berg 2007; Bryman 2001; Hennink 2007). By using FGs, I could examine how participants supported, challenged and influenced each other in terms of views about issues related to ELF in a socially co-constructed context. Altogether four FGs were conducted over tea and biscuits in a social centre. The size of each group was between eight and 11 participants, depending on the participants' willingness to participate. While it is impossible to present the whole set of data which depicts the panorama of students' attitudinal development, this chapter focuses on the attitude of Jiajia, a third-year English major in a eight-person FG, while the field work was conducted. The group included four English majors and four non-English majors. The moderator gave a brief induction before the group discussion, with the focus on the spread of English and the phenomenon of Chinese speakers' own way of using English.

Jiajia's attitude went through some changes from the start of group discussion until the end. In the exploration of 'what' was seen to be changed and unchanged, the analysis of 'how' the changes took place and 'how' unchanged aspects were maintained brought to the fore factors which were seen to operate in Jiajia's LA development. Certainly, it is dangerous to treat the sequence of Jiajia's attitudinal profiles throughout the group discussion as marking a linear development of ELF awareness. Yet the study of Jiajia's attitude offers pedagogical implications regarding how an ELF-aware attitude can be developed and, more practically, what intervening activities can be used to raise such awareness.

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