Language investigation ideas

Five language investigation ideas with suggestions for tackling AO1, AO2 and AO3

A good investigation will cover each of the Assessment Objectives.

To get a strong AO1 mark an investigation needs to use demanding terminology accurately and incisively, but the specifics will be different for different investigations - ideally cover a range of features and keep an eye open for surprising or unanticipated features in your data.

Starting from features that researchers have discussed is a sensible approach. Any investigation should be built on sound linguistic concepts and ideas from research to cover AO2 - one way of designing a good investigation is extending or challenging work that others have done (O'Barr and Atkins' work in courtrooms was an excellent example of this, taking Lakoff's idea of 'Women's Language' and testing it in a specific context).

AO3 covers understanding the context the investigation is taking place. For good AO3 marks, be as open-minded as possible in considering what's making the data come out the way it has. If your investigation is focused on gender, don't ignore other factors like age, occupation, personality, professional role and so on. A level investigations are by their nature short investigations and cannot come to definitive conclusions about grand topics, so always be tentative in stating your conculsions and consider other factors that may be at play.

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