Methodological and Ethical Issues in Research Interviewing with a Multicultural Group of University Students: Are There Dos and Don’ts?

  • Emilie MartinezEmail author
Part of the Second Language Learning and Teaching book series (SLLT)


This paper explores how foreign language teacher–researchers can use semi-structured interviews to successfully solicit student points of view on their own teaching concepts. Basic issues, such as ethics, as well as the methods used to design, conduct, and analyze the interview play a major role. The author will discuss these issues on the basis of her own experiences in conducting semi-structured interviews with multicultural groups of university students on a series of art-integrated German as a foreign language lessons. These interviews were notable as they were conducted in German, a language that was not-native to participants. The cultural background of interviewees also influenced their responses. The author will reflect on the different steps of interviewing, with a special focus on developing questions and analyzing responses through meaning coding, condensing and interpretation. The paper will throw light on how to minimize the effects of language barriers on interview reliability, how to encourage students to express not only positive, but also negative opinions, and how to deal with cultural specificities, such as the Chinese emphasis on extreme politeness. This paper attempts to show that it is possible to construct knowledge through the interaction between teacher and student. By giving advice to teacher–researchers whose goal is to interview students, their own as those of other teachers’, the author will demonstrate that interviewing is an art that is worth practicing in foreign language classroom-oriented research.


Foreign Language Mother Tongue Fairy Tale Interview Research Action Researcher 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Friedrich Schiller University of JenaJenaGermany

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