ESL Elementry School Teacher Experiences in Dealing With Students From Different Cultures
Aysha Suliman Bajabaa
FSHS 908
Kansas State University
Spring, 2014


The purpose of this interview is to address the following research question: How ESL
teacher communicate effectively with students coming from different cultures with various
backgrounds and build a successful relationship?
Data Collection
As qualitative research focuses on deep understanding of the phenomena under study, it
requires especial data collection methods. Various qualitative data collection research includes
observations, interviews (individual or group), documents, audio visual materials (Creswell,
2007). The most common methods used, is interview as it allows researcher to find out from
people about things that cannot be observed directly (Patton, 2002). So it a way to enter into the
other person’s perspective “The purpose of qualitative interviewing is to capture how those being
interviewed view their world, to learn their terminology and judgments, and to capture the
complexities of their individual perceptions and experiences” (Patton, 2002, p.348). There are
three fundamental types of research interviews: (1) Informal, conversational interview- questions
are not predetermined in this type of interview, as they emerge naturally during interview session
and the interviewer “goes with the flow” of interview process. (2) General interview guide
approach – in this type of interview the issues and topics are predetermined in advance, but
interviewer still has a degree of freedom and flexibility in providing sequencing and wording of
questions to get the information from the interviewee. (3) Standardized, open-ended interview –
interviewer uses the exact wording and sequencing of predetermined open-ended questions
where all interviewees are asked the same questions. (4) Closed, fixed-response interview –in
this type, all questions and responses sets are predetermined in advance and all interviewees are
asked the same questions and required to select answers from among the same set of alternatives.
This format is useful for those not practiced in interviewing (Patton, 2002).

In this interview I used the General interview guide approach, as the interview topic and
all questions are predetermined in advance. However, the interview was remain fairly
conversational with the focus on the interview topic. This helped me to control the limited time
of interview and use the time wisely and efficiently between different questions. This approach
helped to make changes in the sequence of the questions based on interviewee responses. It also
allowed me to modify some questions and add more details in order to get deeper understanding
“the interviewer remains free to build a conversation within a particular subject area, to word
questions spontaneously, and to establish a conversational style but with the focus on a particular
subject that has been predetermined” (Patton, 2002, p. 343).
An ESL teacher in an elementary school found in the Midwestern was purposefully
selected. Purposeful sampling is used when the researcher needs a specific person to provide rich
information in phenomena under study. The purpose of this interview is to understand how ESL
teacher communicate effectively with students coming from different cultures with various
backgrounds and build a successful relationship. The participant teacher whom was selected is
known in building good communication with international students in the school. Also, she had a
long experience as teacher more than 25 years with the last eight years she spent teaching ESL in
(.......) Elementary school, and she had a master’s degree in 2005 in curriculum and instruction
with ESL emphasis.
Interview procedure
The aim of this activity is to get the experience of the interviewing process rather than
collecting data that will be used in a real study. However, I planned for the interview in advance
by determining the topic and the person whom I am going to interview and got the permission

from the course instructor. I sent an email to the teacher with the explanation of the topic of the
interview. Then I received her replay that indicated her willing to participate in the interview.
Through email, we arranged for appropriate time for her to meet. Also, she preferred to conduct
the interview at her school. I arrived at the school at the agreed time as she met me at the school
gate. She told me that she arranged and took permission from the school principal to meet with
her at the school. At the beginning she suggested that we meet at the school library, which might
has some distractions, so I asked her to move to a more quit place. Then we moved to her class
which, was nice and comfortable. The whole interview process took an hour as I arrived at the
school at 3:00 pm and left at 4:00 pm, while the exact interview lasted about 30 minutes. The
interview was digitally recorded using a digital handy recorder that I borrowed from K-State IT
services. The participant was interviewed only once (till now).
I knew the interviewee from before, as she taught my kids ESL class at the school for
several years. That made starting the interview was smooth and easy. At the beginning of the
interview, as an interview researcher, I discussed the topic of the interview and its purpose.
Participant was given two copies of the written consent form and was given a time to read the
document and ask questions if needed. After that, I asked the interviewee to sign and date the
two copies of the written consent form. Participant kept one copy of the consent form, and the
interviewer retained one for her records.
The interview began by interviewer, after the consent form was signed. At this moment
the recording started. The interviewer started by mentioning the aim of the interview, which
focuses on participant’s perspective and experiences in communicating with her international
students who are coming from different cultures, her strategies to build successful relationships,
and how she could help them improve their learning in other subjects. General interview guide

approach or a semi-structured interview guide was used as a framework to discuss the
interview’s topic. This technique is more flexible since it allows the interview to be more
informal. By predetermining criteria questions related to general topic for investigation, follow-
up questions were used to inquiry and get deeper into participant’s experience. Changes were
made by rewarding the questions or adding more clarifications based on the participant’s request
and interview flow. At the end of the interview, the participant was asked for more details about
specific questions and was given an opportunity to offer any additional information that she
thought was appropriate and related. The participant was willing to participate in the interview
for free.
Memo1: (Observational memo). During the interview the ESL teacher said “I love my
job” she closed her eyes. Unconsciously I felt that she is true and she said this from her heart.
She reminded me back when I was a teacher for seven years in my school. My teaching
experiences with students were the best thing I am proud of and still remember all details I lived
with my students. Like me, she love her job and she is willing to improve her students because
she respect their abilities, their thinking, and their engaging.
Memo 2: (Observational memo). While she was seemed willing to provided how to
communicate with ESL students and share her experiences dealing with this type of students.
During the interview for many times, I felt she was thinking deeply about some of the practices
she is doing, so it might be better to conduct classroom observation to get more information.
What I learned?
This interview was a good chance for me to get real experiences and to practice
conducting interview before working in my real study. During the interview I was very

concerned about getting valuable information in my topic with keeping in my mind covering all
questions within the limitation of time. It was hard for me to balance between listing to the
participant and on the same time focusing to manage the interview time effectively and taking
notes. So I continued writing my notes once the interview ended. I learned from this interview
that preparing well in advance is very important for successful results. Following the
determination of the topic, finding the appropriate persons who can provide valuable information
and share successful experiences is a hard task. In addition, I found that the more authentic of the
topic for the researcher, the richer interview can be conducted as this will help interviewer to
establish prompts that encourage participant to add more information. I wished I planned a head
more early, which could have helped me found more appropriate time for both the interviewee
and myself and could also have given me more time to get approval and permissions. One
challenge I faced also is trying to be neutral during the interview as I tried not to add what I
knew in this topic, especially I have a lot of experiences dealing with students as a teacher and a
school vice principal in addition to the experiences I learned from the local schools when my
kids attended ESL classes at the beginning of our arrival to the US. Finally, I expected that I will
hear a more specific strategies that this participant could share with me based on her well-known
succeed in dealing with ESL students. I found she is using simple strategies while making great
results with this ESL students.


Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry & research design : Choosing among five
approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Patton, M. Q. (2002). Qualitative research and evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage


Appendix A: Interview protocol project
 Time of interview: 3:00 – 4:00
 Date: Friday, 3-14-12014
 Place: interviewee’s school – (…….) Elementary school
 Interviewer Research: IR
 Participant/Interviewee : P
 Position of interviewee: Female -ESL teacher
 Research question: How ESL teacher communicate effectively with students coming
from different cultures with various backgrounds and build a successful relationship?
Interview Questions:
1. Would you please give a description of your job?/ Tell me about yourself
2. For how long have you been working in this job and with which levels?
3. To what extent do you feel enjoying your job?
4. As your job might require working with students who come from different cultures and with
various backgrounds, how do you successfully communicate with them?
5. How do you learn about your students’ culture?
6. What are your conceptions of ESL learners?
7. What strategies do you use in your teaching (reading/writing)?
8. What challenges have faced with ESL students coming from different cultures?
9. A. From your experience, what are the most important qualities/skills ESL teachers should
have? Or what do you think makes an excellent ESL teacher?

10. What is the most difficult situation have you faced during dealing with ESL students? And
how did you deal with?
11. Have you experienced any conflict in communicating with ESL students? And how did deal
12. How do you motivate ESL students, especially who had no knowledge of English (absolute
13. What suggestions do you have to improve communication with ESL students?
14. How do you technology to improve communication with ESL students?


Appendix B: Informed Consent
Kansas State University
Informed Consent Form
You are invited to participate in this practice interview assignment, which is a part of Advanced
Qualitative course. The study aims to understand how ESL teacher communicate effectively with
students coming from different cultures with various backgrounds and build a successful
relationship. Therefore, selected ESL teachers will be chosen to participate in this 45-60 minutes
interview by giving their thought and sharing their experiences related to the focus of the study.
Your participation in this study is totally voluntarily and participant can quite any time or skip
any question. Participation is anonymous and responses will only be used for the research
purposes of this study.
There are no foreseeable risks for participating in this interview.

Even though, there are no direct benefits to you as a participant, the benefits to the larger
educational community, especially with increasing number of students from different cultures,
may include improving learning environment for students who are not familiar with English as
instructional language, building successful communication with them, and helping them
overcome language barrier easily. All these will help to make required modifications in school
environment and build better professional development for ESL teachers based on the experience
of exemplary ESL teachers.

Information collected in this interview will be kept completely confidential. Participation will be
anonymous and there is no personal information will be asked. Reports on the study may use
individual quotes, but the quotes will not include any identifying information.

If you have any question or concern regarding this survey, please contact the study supervisor:
Dr. Karen Myers-Bowman, course instructor, phone (785) 532-1491
I understand this interview is research, and my participation is completely voluntary, and I
understand that if I decided to participate in this interview, I may withdraw my consent at
any time and for any reason without explanation, penalty or loss of benefits or academic
standing to which I may otherwise be entitled.
I verify that my signature below indicates that I have read and understand this consent form, and
willing agree to participate in this interview under the term described, and that my signature
acknowledge that I received a signed and dated copy of this consent form.

___________________________ __________