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Food and Ethnography

This item was written by Violeta Karastateva and Valentina Georgieva from Bulgaria


The processes of economic and political globalisation have led to dramatic changes in everyday life all over the world, and this includes changes in eating habits and choice of food products. Available FLT materials do not always reflect on the variety of intercultural issues connected with this which raises the question of how teachers can supplement existing materials with additional activities aimed at developing intercultural skills. Look at the photo - what are an old-style UK telephone box and Winnie the Pooh doing in Tesco in Kraków? An ethnographic investigation could help to explain their presence.


Over the last decade ethnography has been adopted as a research method in language education and this can help students become ethnographers when abroad or in their native context. Ethnography can provide an approach to understanding other people better and, consequently, to communicating in a more successful way, at the same time both softening culture shock and helping learners be something more than ‘tourists’ when they are abroad.


…ethnography is a method for doing fieldwork and writing up the results. Language teachers and students can use ethnography to develop their cultural learning in general, and their capacity to mediate between different cultural groups in particular. Thus, the purpose of ethnography in this context is to integrate language and cultural processes ... Roberts, C. et al. (2001) Language Learners as Ethnographers, Multilingual Matters pp. 11-12


We have a number of items which develop these ideas both in this issue and others:

·         Food and the Senses showing how fieldwork can be used in FLT

·         Kosher Food showing the use of interview techniques

·         How to … do a piece of ethnographic research is illustrated with examples on the theme of food giving a series of further ideas for work with learners


For a deeper insight try Ethnography? (What) Does it have to do with Language Education?

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