Elicitation Tips

1. Be prepared.

Always approach an elicitation session with a plan. When you are starting out, you will need a more detailed plan than you may later on. You will probably get through a lot less material than you think you might be able to each session–this is to be expected. But it’s always better to have extra material planned than not enough.

You will figure out what kind of plan works best for you–do you do best if you write out each incarnation of a particular stimulus (sound, word, inflection pattern, sentence, etc.)? Or do you work better with an outline of your basic goals for the elicitation with a few examples that you will expand upon? Again, it’s best to aim for more detail than less at the beginning.

Even though you will have a (slightly, somewhat, relatively, or very) detailed plan, don’t let it restrict you if the elicitation session needs to go in another direction. If you have prepared beforehand, you will have in mind the directions that you’re interested in going, so that if your consultant gets “off track,” (see “Adapt” below for what this really means) you can make the most of it.

And remember, it’s your job to figure out how the language works (whichever sub-part of it you are working on). If the speaker gives you two different sentences and says they mean the same thing, don’t ask “why?” or “what’s the difference between the two?” Instead, you need to figure out how to get at this information indirectly. This takes some practice.