Collaborating in bicultural and bilingual projects​




When there’s a Spanish, French, or Italian component to a qualitative project, or initially even when seems as if it’s a solo Spanish-speaking project, consider whether a collaboration between a native speaker and an English-speaking moderator who knows a language well enough to converse, listen in, and analyze (but not do the groups herself) might be more powerful than a single native-language moderator. In this case, it might be optimum to have a collaboration between two like minds who know the language at diverse levels coming in as dual researchers, especially if they’re both expert qualitative researchers, anthropologists, depth psychologists, and creative facilitators. One researcher-anthropologist can lead with the native language sessions or observationals and the other expert sits in with translation equipment as a group member to pick up nuances, themes, help debrief, do analysis, create a relaxed atmosphere for participants, and develop a dual report-presentation.


We’ve done this bilingual collaboration for big customer path-to- purchase journeys and simpler ethnographies for major American, international, and Canadian CPG clients. We find that when two ethnographers of like mind work in focus groups and observationals together, they, the respondents, and client teams enjoy the process more and we get better results. It’s the maxim of two heads are better than one. Collaboration enhances exponentially what could have been a lonely solo project. Dual collaborators on focus groups make the groups an exciting experience, bring in multiple perspectives, add in two researchers’ intuition about body language and emotional nuances, add in questions at breaks in the sessions, cause debriefs with clients to penetrate into new understanding, see paradoxes and emotional dilemmas, and allow analysis and writing to occur quicker and with more skill. Consider Spanish- and English-speaking collaboration for your next bilingual project with groups, ethnography, creative ideation, or even digital ethnography. Especially when doing qualitative research with millennials, most “dominants” in a native non-English language arena are usually partially or fully bilingual.​