In the field of world language education, it has long been affirmed that language and culture are inseparable. It has also often been asked how teaching language and culture in an inseparable way is to be accomplished. One solution that has been proposed is ethnographic interviews. Other studies have demonstrated that interviewing native cultural informants is beneficial for language students. This study examined whether such interviews are also beneficial to the native informants. The participants in this project, sixteen native speakers of Spanish, were each interviewed three times by a pair of Spanish students who employed ethnographic techniques as a part of the interview process. The native speakers answered two brief questionnaires, one before and one after the interviews, and many of them participated in one-on-one interviews with me, the primary researcher, to follow-up on their answers to those questionnaires and their experiences with the interviews. I found that the participants perceived the project as beneficial in multiple areas including, but not limited to, the chance it gave them to talk about their culture, the interest they perceived in their culture and their viewpoints, and the opportunity it gave them to confirm, modify, or strengthen conclusions they had made from previous cultural experience. A small percentage of the native speakers either did not understand or appreciate the ethnographic techniques that were employed. However, after initial interviews, I gave the students of Spanish feedback on how to better make use of those techniques in order to improve the students' and native speakers' experiences with the interviews and a large majority of the native speakers observed how the subsequent interviews improved. Therefore, similar projects might benefit from making use of this information. Specifically, it might be useful to explain ethnographic techniques not just to interviewers, but also to interviewees, so that both groups might better understand and appreciate the purpose of those techniques. It might also be useful to give feedback to those who use ethnographic techniques to interview native culture informants.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





foreign language teaching and learning, culture, ethnographic interviews