Research Methodology in Second Language Studies: Trends, Concerns, and New Directions

Kendall A. King, Alison Mackey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


The field of second language studies is using increasingly sophisticated methodological approaches to address a growing number of urgent, real-world problems. These methodological developments bring both new challenges and opportunities. This article briefly reviews recent ontological and methodological debates in the field, then builds on these insights to consider some of the current dilemmas faced by researchers of second language teaching and learning, including concerns regarding fragmentation, generalizability, and replication. Through a review of recent research, we argue that one means of addressing these ongoing questions is to continue to focus collectively and collaboratively on solving real-world problems of language learning, while also layering our perspectives. By layering, we mean considering the central philosophical challenges, often those that are basic values in our methodological approaches, such as objectivity and bias, from varied epistemological stances. We argue that recognizing these differences and using a layered approach will enhance and improve our attempts to address the pressing problems in our field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-227
Number of pages19
JournalModern Language Journal
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 by The Modern Language Journal.


  • Ethnography
  • Mixed methods
  • Paradigm
  • Qualitative
  • Quantitative
  • Technique


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