# autoethnographic research

autoethnography1-2

The Art of Autoethnography: Part III

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Studying languages comes easily for some and is a curse for others. I am one of the latter. I have friends that can speak multiple languages fluently and yet I can’t seem to get any further than my native tongue. I am somebody who has attempted to study several languages and not succeeded, even with the help of classes, tutors and so on. Because of this I find it fascinating that people could simply use a TV Show or a game to learn a foreign language. Whether is be stories of migrant learning a language through a TV Show or kids picking up a language through their favourite card game, the evidence for the success of the use of media as a tool for language acquisition is overwhelming.

These observations and stories of language acquisition success have brought me to form a topic for autoethnographic study in this area. Looking language acquisition through Asian language media texts. The answers that I am seeking to discover are not just simply can I learn any aspects of the language but also what can I learn about the culture of that language in the process.

Autoethnography is an approach to research that combines methodological tools and literature with personal experience to obtain a greater understanding of culture. (Ellis, Adams & Bochner, 2011)

To complete the methodology in this autoethnographic study I will combine literature research relating to the study of languages and testimonials/news stories regarding people who have learnt languages using media texts. This will be combined with the personal experience of using Asian language media texts in order to learn aspects and vocabulary of various Asian languages.

When looking online the extent of language learning resources and tips for learning languages can be overwhelming. To obtain some ideas about the types of media texts to use for this research I chose to collate some of the suggestions from a simple google search and the following table summarises what I found.

Brave Learning –       Listen to foreign language radio stations

–       Foreign language poems

–       Podcasts

–       Surf the web in a different language

–       Foreign language TV channels

–       Read a foreign language book

–       Write a foreign language blog post

–       Play games in a different language

Fluent U –       Browse reddit (thematically-orientated to one specific region)

–       Use region specific social media

–       Play online video games (use Twitch, language specific)

–       Date in the language (try tinder etc.)

Pick the Brain –       Television (Taiwanese dramas: Sugoideas.com, Korean, Japanese, Chinese Mandarin: Dramafever.com, Japanese anime: Crunchyroll.com)

–       Foreign film movies and trailers

–       Listening to music in your target language

Franglish –       Listen to music in your chosen language

–       Read foreign language comic books

This research gave me some great ideas for a starting point. I chose to not focus on the choice of language as a driving factor for choosing the texts but to simply find texts which interest me not matter the language which the text was done in. this research will not in no means result in me being fluent in a language but I hoped what I would gain from this research is some vocabulary in a language be it only a couple of words and no more. But what I also hope to gain from this experience is a better understanding of language in the context of these various texts.

What I needed to be careful of was as stated by Anderson (2006) not to allow this research to devolve into self-absorption and that would result in the loss of its sociological promise.

Autoethnography allows for creativity in regards to its presentation, going beyond traditional methods of writing. While my research will be writing it will take the shape of journal entries documenting my progress and research through blog posts on my personal blog these posts will simply provide a home for the Snapchat videos documenting my personal experiences throughout this autoethnographic study and allow me to expand and reflect upon my findings.

To start off this autoethnographic research I will include a brief account of my first autoethnographic encounter, learning a language through a Bollywood film. I choose a Bollywood film for three reasons.

  1. It was easy to obtain
  2. I have watched Bollywood movies before and quite enjoy them
  3. And finally, as this was the first emersion into this research I thought I would ease myself in with the language through something that I was familiar with.

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My progress of language acquisition and the Snapchat videos detailing my personal experience will have to wait till my next post but a few things that I did note are;

  • Subtitles don’t always make sense
  • The pause and rewind button got a work out.
  • It was a lot easier to keep up with the dialogue then the songs due to the pace.
  • Attempting to learn aspects of the language and document it at the same time meant that I did not become involved in the storyline of the text at all and watching the movie took twice as long therefore I didn’t finish it because Bollywood movies are already two hours long.
  • The key words I found myself picking up are the ones which sparked my interest, random words which either stood out or were part of the sentences which had unusual sounding subtitles.
  • This approach to learning a language may help with understanding slang or colloquial phrases in a foreign language but it still only provides you with snippets of the language as a whole
  • It does not at all permit the acquisition of written language.

 

Reference List

Anderson, Leon 2006, Analytic Autoethnography, Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 373-393.

Ellis, C., Adams, T. and Bochner, A. (2011). Autoethnography: An Overview. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, [online] 12(1). Available at: http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/1589/3095 [Accessed 30 Jul. 2016].

Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani. (2013). [film] Johar, K. & Johar, H.

 

Pure Autoethnographic Research or Genuine Personal Narrative

Pure Autoethnographic Research or Genuine Personal Narrative

 

The journey I have taken through the world of media use in the Democratic Republic of North Korea has opened my eyes to a cultural group who live in a world far removed from mine. I was well aware that a cultural divide existed and that it was not unique to these two cultures and societies. Many Asian cultures reflect vastly different media trends, products and usage but North Korea really rocked my perceptions. However, what concerns this researcher is the very nature of the autoethnographic research I am carrying out. Leon Anderson identifies five key features of analytic autoethnographic research; complete member research status, analytic reflexivity, narrative visibility, dialogue with others beyond the researcher and a commitment to theoretical analysis (Anderson, L. 2006).

 

In the research I have undertaken for my blog posts on North Korea I have the reflectivity and visible narrative. It is the complete member research status that worries me because I am not a member of the North Korean culture, I have not visited the country and experienced the culture and I have not experienced an expatriate relationship with any North Koreans in Australia. My research has largely been media driven using the internet and news media to source the comparisons I make and the reflections and comparisons this information leads me to. This has led to an absence of dialogue with others beyond the researcher, another of the key features Anderson. Does the lack of these two components of an autoethnographic research project places the authenticity of the research and the associated cultural reflections and comparisons in some jeopardy?

 

Reading further into Anderson and other writers I feel the narrative I have constructed around the use of media in North Korea and the ongoing reflective nature of my thinking around the cultural and political differences clearly makes a strong case for three out of the five key features identified above. Regardless of the pure nature of the autoethnographic research work I have undertaken the information I have found and the cultural insights these have provided have definitely had an emotion and analytical effect on my thinking about the cultural issues associated with North Korea. It has produced a clarity of thinking which has sharpened my person narrative.

 

Anderson, L. Analytic Autoethnography Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 2006 35: 373

DOI: 10.1177/0891241605280449 http://jce.sagepub.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/content/35/4/373.full.pdf+html

The New Human Right

Last post I tried to investigate the extent to which North Korean citizens had access to and engaged in online video gaming. My investigations were aimed at providing a baseline from which to compare a contemporary aspect of western cultures with the culture of the Democratic Republic North Korea (DRNK). The other aspects of media I had researched in this country left me quite confused, angry and empathetic with the population lock into a despotic regime. Confused because I could not rationalize how a culture so trapped by the irrational ideology of a small elite minority and an unbalanced family of puppet leaders, could exist in the detente of the 21st Century. Angry because I could not understand why the rest of the cultures of the world allowed this total media control to happen and empathetic because I could understand that they were missing out on a freedom western cultures simply take for granted.

People in Australia and other first, second and even third world cultures have the media freedom to use, produce and transmit information and digital products across the World Wide Web. http://www.internetlivestats.com/google-search-statistics/ states that the search engine Google receives a daily search volume of 3.5 billion. Although no accurate statistics were available, this level of freedom does not exist in the DRNK. If we watch the Denis Rodman documentary and examine the set-up of the Technology Centre there is one man with the Google home page on the screen but he is not searching he is acting the part of a media engaged citizen. If it is so important change the outside world perception of a media oppressed culture then an intelligent person would do it with an actual interaction rather than a farcical set up.

If autoethnographic research is about using the important discoveries in the researcher’s life what I have discovered about the use of media in the Democratic Republic of North Korea has really had an impact on me. My studies into media and communication have broadened my knowledge and understanding of how media is used in many contexts and for many purposes. My enlightenment has shown me how powerful the use of media, specifically digital media, can be in improving the life of the user. In the 21st Century I feel that access to and freedom to engage with digital media is a new human right.

 

Pace , Steven (2012) Writing the self into research: Using grounded theory analytic strategies in autoethnography in TEXT Special Issue: Creativity: Cognitive, Social and Cultural Perspectives

eds. Nigel McLoughlin & Donna Lee Brien, April 2012

http://www.textjournal.com.au/speciss/issue13/Pace.pdf

 

 

Raab, Diana (2013) Transpersonal Approaches to Autoethnographic Research and Writing

The Qualitative Report 2013 Volume 18, Article 42, 1-18

http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR18/raab42.pdf

 

Philaretou, A.G. & Allen, K.R. 2006, “Researching Sensitive Topics through Autoethnographic Means”, Journal of Men’s Studies, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 65.

http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/docview/222637651?pq-origsite=summon