Research methods and approaches in Applied Linguistics: Looking back and moving forward. AILA Review, Volume 27
  • ISSN 1461-0213
  • E-ISSN: 1570-5595


This paper surveys the research methods and approaches used in the multidisciplinary field of applied language studies or language education over the last fourty years. Drawing on insights gained in psycho- and sociolinguistics, educational linguistics and linguistic anthropology with regard to language and culture, it is organized around five major questions that concern language educators. The first is: How is cultural meaning encoded in the linguistic sign? It discusses how the use of a symbolic system affects thought, how speakers of different languages think differently when speaking, and how speakers of different discourses (across language or in the same language) have different cultural worldviews. The second question is: How is cultural meaning expressed pragmatically through verbal action? It discusses the realization of speech acts across cultures, culturally-inflected conversation analysis, and the use of cultural frames. The third question is: How is culture co-constructed by participants in interaction? It discusses how applied linguistics has moved from a structuralist to a constructivist view of language and culture, from performance to performativity, and from a focus on culture to a focus on historicity and subjectivity. The fourth question is: How is research on language and culture affected by language technologies? The print culture of the book, the virtual culture of the Internet, the online culture of electronic exchanges all have their own ways of redrawing the boundaries of what may be said, written and done within a given discourse community. They are inextricably linked to issues of power and control. The last section explores the current methodological trends in the study of language and culture: the increased questioning and politicization of cultural reality, the increased interdisciplinary nature of research, the growing importance of reflexivity, and the noticeable convergence of intercultural communication studies and applied language studies in the study of language and culture.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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