University of Cambridge > > Centre for Commonwealth Education (CCE) > MASTERCLASS: Case study research in applied linguistics: What can case studies of L2 learners tell us?

MASTERCLASS: Case study research in applied linguistics: What can case studies of L2 learners tell us?

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Case studies have played a crucial and enduring role in theory development in second language learning, bilingualism, and applied linguistics more generally for more than half a century. Despite involving just a small number of research participants or sites (sometimes just one), case studies can be a compelling and powerful means of conveying the richness and complexity of individuals’ teaching and learning contexts, as well as their experiences, perspectives, and developmental trajectories (among other themes). From researchers’ detailed descriptions and interpretations of individual cases, others can gain a deeper, more holistic understanding of the phenomenon being explored and the factors and meanings associated with it. Case-based methods are pervasive and effective tools in higher education (e.g., in medicine, law, business, social work, political science, and education) for this very reason. In this presentation I discuss current and emerging themes, theoretical constructs, and populations examined in case study research in second, foreign, and heritage language learning in transnational, diasporic, and other multilingual contexts. I then discuss the significance of case studies of language learners for teachers, researchers, and the general public in terms of what they reveal about the challenges, processes, and possibilities associated with contemporary language learning. I also recommend strategies for conducting, interpreting, and reporting findings from case studies in a reflexive, credible, and interesting manner.

This talk is part of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (CCE) series.

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