Accepted paper:

Lessons from teaching ethnography for students of languages

Authors:

Lisa Bernasek (University of Southampton)
Marion Demossier (The University of Southampton)
Heidi Armbruster (Southampton University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on our experiences teaching ethnography for undergraduate students of Modern Languages, we will explore the consequences for teaching of constraints on two factors long considered central to 'traditional' ethnographic fieldwork: time and language proficiency.

Paper long abstract:

Based on our work with undergraduate students of Modern Languages at the University of Southampton, UK, in this paper we will explore the consequences for teaching of constraints on two factors long considered central to 'traditional' ethnographic fieldwork: time and language proficiency. Ethnography has been taught within Modern Languages degree programmes as a research method and a means of developing the cultural engagement central to students' experiences during their period of residence abroad. In this paper we will discuss our experiences teaching ethnography in two contrasting contexts: as part of a semester-long module that culminates in a short-term 'home ethnography' assessment; and as part of an 18-month project to train and support students in carrying out ethnographic research during their year abroad. We will focus particularly on the possibilities and limitations of short-term ethnography and the effects of language proficiency. (How) can students develop an 'ethnographic eye', either when working on very short-term projects 'at home' or in the context of somewhat longer projects in the new environments they are thrust into when on their period of residence abroad? What effect does language proficiency or confidence have on students' ability (and willingness) to engage with and make sense of a new cultural context? Is ethnographic observation made easier for students when carried out in their first language, or does this inhibit their ability to 'make strange' the world around them?

panel P125
Teaching ethnography as method: legacies and future practices [TAN]