LARA Project Materials

The LARA materials grew out of an ESRC funded project which was reported in the following book:

  • Celia Roberts, Michael Byram, Ana Barro, Shirley Jordan and Brian Street (2001) Language Learners as Ethnographers.¬†Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.

The book provides a theoretical underpinning for much of the content in these booklets and gives further information on how students themselves used the materials.

The booklets below were created as part of a HEFCE funded project based at Oxford Brookes University. More information about the LARA project can be found here.

Introductory Remarks and Guidance on Use of Materials
This brief introduction aims to answer some of the questions staff and students often ask about doing ethnography for the period of residence abroad. download file
An Introduction to Ethnography for Language Learners
The period abroad is introduced as an opportunity to go out into the field, on the analogy of the anthropologist’s fieldwork, and to study some aspect of a community in a systematic way. download file
What is an Ethnographic Approach?
Some of the fundamental principles of ethnography are introduced: ethnography as a holistic method, data as always interpreted in context, the notion of reflexivity. download file
Non-Verbal Communication and Social Space
These concepts are used to introduce students to methods of observation. Goffman’s work is introduced along with some of the anthropological studies of how people make meaning ut of their use of space. download file
Shared Cultural Knowledge
The idea of ethnography as ‘thick description’ is introduced. The difference between description and interpretation is used to focus on the idea that we draw on our social and cultural knowledge in order to judge and label experiences. download file
Families and Households
The idea of ‘family’ as a cultural construct is introduced and the role of cultural knowledge is illustrated by looking at kinship terms, and, more sociologically, by the analysis of family conversations. download file
Gender Relations
The focus in this unit is on gender and language, both the discourses around gender and female and male interaction. download file
Education and Socialisation
The concept of education as a process of socialisation is introduced. Culturally organised patterns of classroom behaviour are related to wider issues of education as a means of social reproduction. download file
Participant Observation
This is the first session to focus on specific methods and it introduces the key method of participant observation. The tension between being a participant and being an observer is explored and practical help is given in how to locate informants and take field notes. download file
Ethnographic Conversations 1
Alternative methods to observation are discussed. Some techniques for informal ethnographic interviewing are tried out and problems raised and discussed. download file
Ethnographic Conversations 2
In addition to trying out some ethnographic conversations in a foreign language, more formal interview methods based on cognitive and linguistic anthropology are used to elicit key cultural words and their semantic associations. download file
Data Analysis 1
The relationship between data collection and data analysis is explored. Two ways of drawing out concepts from the data are introduced and students are reminded of the importance of reflexivity in data analysis. download file
Data Analysis 2
Further practice in interpretative data analysis is given. Ways of organising field notes and other data are introduced. The importance of writing a field diary is stressed. download file
National and Ethnic Identities and Local Boundaries
The period abroad is designed to immerse students in a different cultural experience and so questions of identity, of what it means to belong to a nation, are particularly salient. In this unit, the concept of boundary is used to explore ethnic and national groups. download file
Language and Social Identity
The relationship between language and social identity is introduced, drawing on sociolinguistics and the ethnography of communication. The use of different varieties of language, styles of taking and code-switching illuminate the political economy of language. download file
Local Level Politics
The central role that small ‘p’ politics plays in the formation and maintenance of social relations is discussed. The notion of exchange is related both to students’ own gift-giving habits and to wider social issues of honour and shame. download file
Belief and Action 1: Categorisation and Rituals
The distinction between the symbolic and functional is explored by looking at eating habits and the different ways in which what appears as ‘natural’ is classified symbolically download file
Belief and Action 2: Discourse and Power
Aspects of the ethnography of communication, critical linguistics and the anthropological analysis of ritual language are combined to look at some aspects of institutional discourses. download file
Writing an Ethnographic Project
Recent work on writing ethnographic accounts is used to highlight the constructed nature of ethnographic texts, challenging positivist assumptions of objectivity in writing. Students are also helped to think about some of the tensions they will have to manage in writing. Students are also helped to think about some of the tensions they will have to manage in writing their ethnographic project in the foreign language but using many of the Anglo-American concepts of the ethnography course. download file
The Butterfly Unit
This unit contains guidance on the home ethnography, the ethnographic project abroad and other suggestions for assessment. Like a butterfly, aspects of it can ‘alight’ on any other unit. Or they can be dealt with in a separate class. download file
SECONDARY READING Due to third party copyright restrictions we are unable to provide full readings for each unit. However, in this document we provide a bibliography of the material to be covered. download file

© Copyright in the printed materials in these booklets written by Shirley Jordan and Celia Roberts belongs to them. Copyright in the publication is held by © LARA (2000). Teachers or librarians in higher education institutions in the UK may reproduce that part of the publication of which LARA/Shirley Jordan/Celia Roberts hold the copyright for use in class or independent research by students within that institution. No copying for third parties or for financial gain is permitted.