"Así vamos a conversar en los dos idiomas"

Reflections on Interviews in the Contact Zone


  • Jessie H. Curtis Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Sara I. Noboa Long Island University Brooklyn


narrative analysis, análisis narrativo, community-based learning, qualitative research


This reflection draws from humanizing research, a methodological stance that pursues ethical representation and interpretation in language research. Working from a pilot study to examine the impact of a community-based program for English conversation in a linguistically diverse community, analysis of three interviews between the author and contributor reveals a narrative about ethnicity, language, and belonging in the US, and illuminates the interview process as one in which the agency of the “researched” shapes what is learned.  


Author Biographies

Jessie H. Curtis, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey

Hutchison Curtis, PhD, is a part-time lecturer at the School of Arts & Sciences, Program in American Language Studies and co-adjunct at the Collaborative Center for Community-Based Research & Service at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. Her research contributed to conceptualizing a program called Conversation Café that affords community residents with access to informal conversation in several of the languages spoken in the community, including English. Her research interests include developing multilingualism in educational spaces and interculturality as an approach for preparing new teachers for linguistically diverse classrooms.

Sara I. Noboa, Long Island University Brooklyn

Noboa, EdM, earned her New Jersey teaching license in 2006 and taught in elementary school settings until 2012. Her contributions to the pilot research project from 2012–2013 helped to inform the development of practices around interculturality that served to prepare fluent English speakers for their roles as sympathetic interlocutors in the community-based language program called Conversation Café. During 2014–2018, in addition to her work in elementary schools, Noboa led group conversations in English and Spanish for the program. In 2018, she succeeded in obtaining her New Jersey Bilingual Teaching Provisional Certification.