Ethnographic Conversations: A Pedagogical Strategy to Promote Language, Content, and Intercultural Learning among Japanese and American University Students

| January 29, 2012
Title
Ethnographic Conversations: A Pedagogical Strategy to Promote Language, Content, and Intercultural Learning among Japanese and American University Students

Keywords: teaching methods, intercultural learning, content area teaching, second language learning, content and language integrated learning, collaborative education

Author
Linda Heuser
Department of Sociology, Willamette University,Oregon

Bio Data
Linda Heuser has a Ph.D. in Sociology and has been teaching content courses in sociology to Japanese EFL students at Tokyo International University of America (TIUA) and Tokyo International University (TIU) in Japan for the past 20 years.

Abstract
Two sociologists and an Applied English professor developed an educational activity, coined ethnographic conversations, as a collaborative pedagogical strategy to enhance language, content, and intercultural leaning. Japanese and American undergraduate students, matched as partners, scheduled four out-of-class meetings during which they discussed topics under study in their respective sociology courses. Similar to conversation partner programs employed by some EFL educators, this exercise had students dialogue in English as they exchanged cultural information about values, community, religion, and families. It also included the more rigorous practices associated with ethnographic interviews that involved the systematic questioning of their conversation partners and gathering of data, recorded as fieldnotes, for later sociological analysis in a reflection paper. In their dual roles as cultural informant and researcher, Japanese and American students shared their knowledge and experiences grounded in their upbringing in their native countries. One of the sociologists describes the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation process that led us to conclude that ethnographic conversations represent a viable educational method for promoting language, content, and intercultural learning among EFL students participating in a ten-month study abroad program in the United States.

Category: Teaching Articles, Volume 57