JoLIE 9:3/2016


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Approaching multilingual and multicultural Settings: a research instrument used in a multicultural classroom



Ioanna Kopsidou

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece






The main difficulty that researchers have to face when they collect data from different societies and cultures is the lack of a concrete methodology. This lack may be attributed to a very limited amount of research conducted in those settings. The present study is part of broad research that focuses on an investigation of communicative strategies that people have to develop in order to avoid miscommunication. Miscommunication is a very frequent phenomenon when the interaction takes place in multilingual and multicultural settings that is when interlocutors share neither the same linguistic code, nor the same socio-cultural conventions. The present study examines the way of approaching those settings and it proposes a research instrument.

The data collection instrument under investigation is based on Hymes’ SPEAKING. As Hymes (1974) has mentioned, in order to describe and analyze communication, it is necessary to deal with discrete units that have recognizable boundaries. The 3 units suggested are communicative situation, communicative event and speech act. The second one is considered the main element for studying the corpus of the present research and based on its elements (Setting, Participants, Ends, Acts, Key, Instrumentalities, Norms and Gender) for tracing different variables that might influence the interaction. In this point it should be mentioned that this tool was applied to analyze oral interactions already collected through registration in multilingual and multicultural communicative settings. This instrument has the form of an observation questionnaire and it worked as a filter through which collected corpus was filtered. It can be divided into two main types of questions: a) those that are intended to examine the objective characteristics of a communicative event and b) those that are considered more subjective and require an attentive study of the collected corpus.

The observation questionnaire was designed, reformulated and tested in practice many times before reaching its final version. Particularly, it was used to analyze oral conversations in a multicultural classroom at the School of Modern Greek Language of Thessaloniki where students from all over the world come to learn Greek language and culture. Its use and the results raised of this use showed that it is practical, functional and applicable. Its implementation in another research could lead to the establishment of a methodological proposal when researchers are interested in approaching multilingual and multicultural settings. It could be used eventually as a primary methodological instrument or it could be reformulated and completed according to the needs of a new future survey in multilingual and multicultural settings.


Key words: Multilingualism; Multiculturalism; Miscommunication; Research instrument.





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How to cite this article: Kopsidou, I. (2016). Approaching multilingual and multicultural settings: a research instrument used in a multicultural classroom. Journal of Linguistic and Intercultural Education – JoLIE, 9(3), 71-86. DOI:



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