Chapter 5. Operationalizing variables

The case of future-time expression in additional-language French

image of Chapter 5. Operationalizing variables

In the field of second language acquisition (SLA), the importance of and the challenges associated with data-coding decisions often go unaddressed. And yet the operationalization of variables ultimately determines our capacity to both enter into dialogue with previous research and to address new and innovative research questions. In the current chapter, we reflect on the operationalization of variables within the field of SLA, offering two concrete examples from investigations on the expression of future time in additional-language French. We demonstrate how two important independent variables – temporal distance and adverbial specification – have either been defined in numerous ways or underspecified in the literature. We then provide concrete illustrations of the impact of data-coding decisions by presenting reanalyses of these two variables using data from previously published research. We conclude with a discussion of the implications that these critical assessments of data coding have for knowledge of additional-language acquisition.

  • Affiliations: 1: Université Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3; 2: Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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