Download your language survey kit

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Interested in carrying out your own survey into language? Here's the kit you'll need.

By: Barbara Mayor (Department of Applied Linguistics and English Language)

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To help you with your interview, we have produced three downloadable materials, if necessary you can use them to make multiple copies.

Our materials consist of a 'spidergram' of words, a biographical details sheet and a page with the words on the 'spidergram'.

To make use of these downloadable sheets you'll need software that can read them, such as the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

The spidergram

Spidergram Copyrighted image Copyright: The Open University / University of Leeds

The ‘spidergram’ of words will ensure that you and your interviewees cover the various topics during the course of the interview.

The ‘spidergram’ was developed by the Survey of Regional English, based at the University of Leeds in England.

Using a standard research tool like this offers you the possibility of comparing your findings with those of other people at other times and places - a key feature in any large-scale research.

It also helps you to keep focussed as you conduct the interview. Some people like to distribute the ‘spidergram’ in advance, so that all the interviewees have a chance to fill it in before the interview starts; other people like to take it along to the interview, so that people come to it fresh.

Either way, make sure that everyone has an individual copy and that they have time to fill it in before you start recording. Make particularly sure that everyone enters their name on the sheet!

Download the 'Spidergram' sheet (183KB)

Biographical details sheet

We’ve also provided a downloadable biographical details sheet that you can print out for each of your participants to fill in. In any research into the varieties of language that people speak, it is important to record key facts about personal background such as age and gender (known as ‘social variables’), as these could have a direct bearing on how individuals speak.

For the purposes of this project, we have focussed on the particular information that is being recorded on the BBC Voices website, as this is the minimum information that you will need in order to enter your findings there.

Of course, it would have been possible to ask many more detailed questions about people’s education or previous places of residence or the many other influences on their speech, but there is always a balance to be struck between finding out as much as possible for the purposes of research and not putting people off completely!

Download the 'Biographical Details' sheet (168KB)

Words sheet

Finally we have provided a page of the words on the ‘spidergram’ so that you can jot down the words people use as you conduct the interview or as you play back your recording.

Given the constraints of the spidergram, you won't have enough space there to enter all the different words offered by your group, and the spidergram itself does not allow you to sort or compare people’s choice of words.

We suggest you use a different column for each speaker, and perhaps consider grouping your speakers according to age or gender or any other variable that you think may be particularly significant. This should make it much easier for you to classify and interpret your data.

Download the 'Words' sheet (199KB)