Dilemmas in Using Phenomenology to Investigate Elementary School Children Learning English as a Second Language

Zihan Shi


This paper is intended for doctoral students and other researchers considering using phenomenology as a methodology to investigate the experiences of children learning English as a second language in an elementary classroom setting.  I identify six dilemmas or puzzling challenges likely to arise if researchers adopt a phenomenological approach to conducting research.  The six dilemmas fall under two categories: fundamental and situational. Fundamental dilemmas include descriptive versus interpretive; objective versus subjective; and participant voice versus researcher voice.  The former focus is on a fundamental understanding of phenomenology as a research method while the latter include language and cultural challenges and limitations of the researchers.  Situational dilemmas arise from the challenges an investigator may encounter in using an in-depth interview as a research tool with children from different cultural and language backgrounds.  I present these dilemmas so that researchers can understand more readily the challenges they may face in exploring the lived experience of these children.

Keywords: phenomenology; English Language Learners; lived experience


phenomenology; English Language Learners; lived experience

Full Text:



  • There are currently no refbacks.