One day, my "research methodology" teacher, Prof. Mohamed Jabeur, gave us an assignment. He asked us to write an essay about our area of interest as MA research students of applied linguistics. The aim of the assignment was to help us find the branch of linguistics which we plan to focus on during our MA research studies. And what better way can we do that other than by writing!
Just for the record, I have faced so many problems after I have made my decision. At first, I couldn't find a supervisor. But I kept looking. I believed in my topic and in the horizons it can open for me to make my future plans come true. I looked for another supervisor from a different university and it worked! Now, I'm writing my thesis about... Oh wait! I don't want to ruin the rest of the post for you. Read how I reached my decision first!
During the previous academic year, our teachers kept providing us with several unsolved problems in the field of applied linguistics, and the topics that triggered my passion for research were the ones related to Sociolinguistics. Once I got back to school for a second academic year, I got interested in another area which is TEFL simply because, as usual, our teachers provided us with different topics in that area that have not been resolved yet in the Tunisian context.
Since selecting a field is basically related to one’s personal interest and motivation and since I identify myself as a feminist, I thought to myself why don’t I do something about women, men and language and try to find out whether men and women’s speeches converge or diverge in Tunisia especially after the introduction of the dogma of feminism. I remember reading a chapter about the latterly mentioned topic in one of our booklets about Sociolinguistics. I admired it a lot as it drew my attention to an array of issues that I had never taken to my heart before, like how the female equivalents of some words hold negative connotations (e.g.: wizard/ witch; sir/ madam) and how there are more than 200 bad words in English that refer to women and only few refer to men.
As for TEFL, I thought about doing something concerning the importance of culture in language learning in Tunisia and how when taught about the culture of a language, students will automatically learn the language itself. Teach them the language only and they’ll never be able to use it properly in real life situations. I have also thought how efficient English language learning would have been if we have applied the English Language Village of Nabeul (a language camp in Nabeul, Tunisia) experience to the Tunisian English teaching classrooms especially that I have been to LVN a couple of times now.
But then again, when I thought about the “innovating area” criterion of selecting a discipline, I immediately thought of the area of Media linguistics since I am already involved in a student project of a Tunisian English speaking online newspaper called The Tunis Times. I’m also planning to have e-classes about News Journalism in the London School of Journalism once I am done with my MA dissertation. I am interested in investigating the language use and news production processes in the newsrooms of the post-revolution English speaking media outlets in Tunisia.
I believe this is it. Doing this assignment helped me realize that I want to work on Media discourse analysis. I barely know things about discourse analysis. But I’m ready to start from scratch. I have downloaded a couple of books about discourse analysis, and political discourse in the media. I have found a number of articles about language in the news, and media in relation to discourse theory. I have started reading and working on it. It is challenging. But since originality is what I am seeking, I will take up the challenge.
Now I'm doing my research about the media coverage of feminist activism in Tunisia. And most importantly, I'm liking what I'm doing.
Hope you'll get to discover your area of research interest just like I did. All what you need to do is follow your passion and you'll find a way!