I began my ethnography project as a way to teach university students basic research skills while practicing English. In Thailand, it is common for students to copy material without guilt, and essays are usually cut-and-paste directly off the Internet. Therefore, I decided to have them research something that they wouldn’t plagiarize – their own family backgrounds and village life. Based on ethnographic principles, I requested that my students interview Thai elders (using my own list of questions) and write reports on the results. I edited this material later to create inexpensive mini-textbooks to use in other English classes.
In this first installment, I had students interview elders about their family origins. Where did they come from? When did they move to the Ayutthaya province? What was life like in their village decades ago? I wrote two ethnography reports of my own for this section, which I used in class to model how the research needed to be done.