This week, new Interland member Elvis Yevudey tells us about his recent experience in Ghana, collecting data for his PhD research.
“The working title of my PhD is Translanguaging in the Classroom: Exploring a Case of Bilingual Education in Ghana. One of the key concepts of my research is translanguaging,
which generally refers to a purposeful and policy-driven use of two or more languages within the classroom, with the aim of maximising effective teaching and learning. My research is a comparative study between bilingual classrooms and monolingual classrooms in Ghana. It explores the pedagogic functions of bilingual language use in the classroom, and the perception of teachers and pupils towards this language use.
Preparation for data collection in Ghana was a significant part of my first year action plan. The data collection was scheduled for May to August 2014, incorporating two weeks of data collection in four different schools. During this time, I intended to carry out observations via audio recordings of classroom interactions, interviews with teachers and head of schools, questionnaire surveys and focus groups. On arrival in May I contacted my sampled schools and had positive responses from them within a week. My initial plans to spend two weeks in each school, however, turned out not to be realistic as the school term was rather short. I therefore ended up spending a minimum of a week in each of the schools. Fortunately, by the end of each week the schools had taught Ewe and English language lessons that were of interest for my research, so shortening my time in each of the schools did not affect my data collection plans.
Having had experiences of classroom based research, I began my data collection with no fears. However, one new thing for me was running focus groups with young pupils between 5-8 years to seek their opinions on language of education in Ghana. I was worried about how to explain the research concept so that all pupils would understand, and in particular, how I would manage vocabulary choices that would be appropriate for their level of competence in English and Ewe. These thoughts were running through my mind as I prepared for the field work. But with my research expertise and dynamic personality, I sailed through the data collection successfully.
All in all, my experience in the field this summer has been educative, fun, challenging and insightful.”