1.1. BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Linguistic Ethnography (LE) is a relatively new term that originated in the United Kingdom (UK) and broadly speaking, designates “a particular configuration of interests within the broader field of socio- and applied linguistics [which constitute] a theoretical and methodological development orientating towards particular, established traditions but defining itself in the new intellectual climate of post/structuralism and late modernity” (Creese 2008). In a discussion paper on Ethnography published by the UK Ethnography Forum over a decade ago, its general orientation was described as follows: Although ethnographic research differs in how far it seeks to make claims about either language, communication or the social world, Ethnography generally holds that to a considerable degree, language and the social world are mutually shaping, and that close analysis of situated language use can provide both fundamental and distinctive insights into the mechanisms and dynamics of social and cultural production in everyday activity. (Rampton et al., 2004). While constituting a powerful account of what LE is about, these statements open up the door to subsequent questions regarding the very contribution of the term to the existing knowledge that is “out there” in the social sciences.
An underlying assumption in sociolinguistics is that much of communication is directed toward keeping an individual society going; that is, an important function of communication is social maintenance. More recent views hold that language (along with other cultural behavior) does more than just that; it serves to construct and sustain social reality. Thus, the goals of sociolinguistics are not merely to understand the tacit rules and norms of language use that are culturally specific, but should encompass understanding how societies use language to construct those very societies one broad approach to researching the rules, cultural norms, and values that are intertwined with language use is ethnography. Ethnographic research is generally carried out through participant observation. Ethnographies are based on firsthand observations of behavior in a group of people in their natural setting. Investigators report on what they see and hear as they observe what is going on around them. As Duranti (1997) says, ‘ethnography is the written description of the social organization, social activities, symbolic and material resources, and interpretive practices characteristic of a particular group of people.’ Ethnographers ask themselves what is happening and they try to provide accounts which show how the behavior that is being observed makes sense within the community that is being observed. As John stone (2004) says, ethnography ‘presupposes . . . that the best explanations of human behavior are particular and culturally relative’ rather than general and universal. Such studies are also qualitative rather than quantitative. In ethnographies of speaking the focus is on the language the participants are using and the cultural practices such language reflects.
1.2. STATEMENT OF THE GENERAL PROBLEM
Overtime, the major problem in communication has been language as different
1.3. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The major aim of this study is to examine the ethnographic approaches to language study. Other objectives of the study are;
1. To examine the need for effective language study.
2. To examine why the term ethnography has been coined.
3. To assess the current approaches to language study in Nigeria schools and colleges.
4. To recommend ways of improving language study in Nigeria.
1.4. RESEARCH QUESTIONS
1. What is the need for effective language study?
2. Why has the term ethnography been coined?
3. What are the current approaches to language study in Nigeria schools and colleges?
4. What are the ways of improving language study in Nigeria?
1.5. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The study would be of immense importance towards the development and study of language in educational institutions in Nigeria. The study would also benefit students, researchers and scholars who are interested in developing a further study on the subject matter.
1.6. SCOPE AND LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study is on ethnographic approaches to language study.
LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information.
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.