Second Culture Acquisition: Ethnography in the Foreign Language Classroom



This article reports the findings of a study with university foreign language students, which employed ethnographic interview techniques as a pedagogical tool to promote positive attitudes toward speakers of the language studied. Informed by the theory of culture as process, the National Language Resource Center (LARC)1 at San Diego State University trained elementary-level university Spanish students to conduct ethnographic interviews in preparation for a cross-cultural project that was integrated into the course curriculum and class requirements. Quantitative and qualitative results indicate that the project enhanced student attitudes toward the study of Spanish as well as their understanding of their own culture and the culture of local Spanish speakers. Furthermore, by learning and conducting ethnographic interviews, students practiced formally the life skill of active listening. In addition to providing a review of relevant literature and research findings, this article describes a program for implementing ethnographic interview techniques in the foreign language classroom.