The role, accuracy, and skills of a team of ESL researchers who transcribed more than 3,000 English language learning histories (LLH) from university students in Hong Kong is examined in this paper. The paper provides an insight into the role of transcribers, how they approach their work, the problems they face, and how they overcome them including the conflict of their prior English language learning. A self-administered semi-structured interview and thematic analysis were used in this qualitative study. The findings show that transcribers learned experientially as they combined project guidelines and prior experience to achieve accuracy Transcribers feel more comfortable working on data that is closer to their English as a second language (ESL) background; however, this also contributed to personal conflict such as correcting grammatical errors. The outcomes suggest training, clear guidelines from supervisors, and incorporating feedback from transcribers can improve the richness and accuracy of data which is of great importance to second language data collection.


transcription, ESL, interviews, thematic analysis

Author Bio(s)

John Patkin is a research assistant at the Education University of Hong Kong. Please direct correspondence to patkin@eduhk.hk.


This work is supported by the University Grants Committee of Hong Kong. The interviews cited in this article are part of the data collected for the project, “Digital Archive of English Language Learning Histories” (Project no. 6361000). I would like to thank my colleagues for their assistance in data collection.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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