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CBSE Class 12 English Project Guide 2024: Topics, Guidelines

Manali Ganguly Image

Manali Ganguly ,

Mar 4, 2024

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CBSE class 12 English project is a compulsory activity that the students have to undertake. 20 marks are allotted to the project and internal assessment and 80 marks to the written test in the CBSE class 12 board examination.

CBSE Class 12 English Project Guide 2024: Topics, Guidelines

The CBSE class 12 English project is a compulsory part of the curriculum and carries 20 marks. The CBSE Class 12 English Project Guide 2024 will provide an overview with guidelines, objectives, marks, project topics, project ideas, and more.

These marks, along with the 80 marks allotted for the written test in the CBSE board examination, make a total of 100 marks. English projects can pour down their writing and present skills through the projects.

Table of Contents

CBSE Class 12 English Project Guidelines

Cbse class 12 english project objectives, cbse class 12 english project: marks, schedule, & suggestions, how to choose cbse class 12 english project topics, top cbse class 12 english project ideas, cbse class 12 english project sample pdf, how to prepare for cbse class 12 english project, parameters of assessment for cbse class 12 english project.

The English project is a vital part of the syllabus for CBSE class 12 . The students must abide by certain guidelines when they are working on the project. The guidelines for the project have been stated below:

  • The project must be creatively done. This is to say that the students must put their original thoughts into the project.
  • It is best to select a good book that is not a part of the syllabus while creating the project. The book should, however, have parity with the topic.
  • The project must showcase the point of view of the student.
  • The language of the project must be clear and understandable. Using jargon in this case will fetch marks.
  • The project topic could include a letter - formal/informal - which must be written following the correct pattern.
  • Marks for the project will be awarded on three bases - Literature Text, Creative Writing Skills, and Reading Skills. This is in keeping with the CBSE guidelines.

Read More : CBSE Class 12th English Syllabus 2023-24

The students must understand why they are made to work on the projects. The board has devised three skill sets, as discussed above, on the basis of which the students will be marked for their projects.

The objectives of the board can be seen below:

  • To test the creative skills of a student.
  • Test the skill of critical analysis in a student.
  • To test the language proficiency in the student.
  • Test the creative writing ability and grammatical skills in the student.

Read More : CBSE Class 12 Question Bank 2023: Download PDF

The English project and viva voce together carry 10 marks. 5 marks is allotted to the project and 5 marks to viva voce.

The students are supposed to work on a small project. The planning and organisation of the project must be done well ahead of the deadline, because the timeline is fixed by the board for the submission of project and viva voce.

The date of submission of the English project will be notified to the students in due course of time.

The board suggests the following for CBSE class 12 English project:

  • Students can pick up a topic for the project that is interdisciplinary in nature.
  • The topics for projects can be picked up from the ideas depicted in the chapters or drama or poems in the English syllabus.
  • The topics can also be outside the book and age-appropriate.
  • The project topics may also include such issues that provide the students the opportunity to listen and speak.

Read More : CBSE Class 12th Blueprint 2024

The students must prepare for the English project in an efficient manner since this will add to the final score in the CBSE 12 board examinations.

The English project together with internal assessment will carry 20 marks out of the total 100 marks. 80 marks will be allotted to the written examination conducted by the board.

The topics for CBSE class 12 English project are varied. The students must choose them very wisely. Some of the suggestions for the choice of topic as prescribed by the board has been discussed below.

The students must keep the following points in mind while preparing for the project:

  • The first step is to understand the syllabus clearly.
  • Secondly, the choice of topic must be good. The topic must be such that they are able to write elaborately on it.
  • The topic must be well researched and have parity with the syllabus.
  • While working on the project, the students must abide by the guidelines of the board.
  • The organisation of ideas must be very good. The subtopics must be connected to each other.

Read More : CBSE Class 12 Question Bank

The selection of topics must be done carefully. This section lists down the most popularly picked CBSE class 12 English project ideas. The students can pick a topic from the list shared below:

  • How is climate change affecting the environment around us? The importance of understanding the causes.
  • Corruption: The biggest impediment in the progress of the nation.
  • Reservation in Academics: How far is it justified?
  • How is women empowerment changing gender roles in society?
  • How important is the awareness of mental health?
  • What can be pros and cons of using artificial intelligence in the healthcare system?
  • Studying the effect of globalisation on the culture and economy of the developing nations
  • How significant is Indian Literature? Cite the works of authors to elucidate.
  • Pollution: Ways to control it.
  • A critical analysis of the Indian Cinema.
  • Raising awareness about the protection of animal rights. How important is it?
  • Does social media have an impact on the mind? Explain
  • The addiction of teens to social media. How is it affecting their academics?
  • The evils of racism and ways to curb it.
  • How has Covid-19 affected education?

English project is a compulsory part of the curriculum for CBSE class 12. The students must make sure that the choice of topic, as well as the presentation of the project, are both very good. This would fetch them full marks.

Also, knowledge about the topic is mandatory because they would have to answer the viva voce based on their projects. It is best to take a cue from a sample English project before starting with the presentation.

Shared in the table below is a sample English project for CBSE class 12:

Sample CBSE Class 12 English Project

Following are the basic ways in which the students can start with their English projects:

  • Interview based on research: The students will have to take up a topic on which they will conduct research for the project. Questionnaires can be distributed among the family members and neighbours to gain their opinion on the topic. The answers will constitute the content of the project together with the inference. The write up/report must be written in 1000 words.
  • Listening to radio or podcasts: The project report can be prepared on the basis of listening to interviews or podcasts or radio.
  •  Creating audio or video:The students must make an audio recording or video on a topic on their own.
  • Writing and presenting a drama: The project can also include the writing of a script or a one-act play. This could be a team effort.

Read More:  CBSE Class 12 Exam Pattern 2023-24

The board has set certain parameters on the basis of which the teachers will assess the project and award marks. The parameters are given below:

  • Content Quality: The content and the quality of the project must be age appropriate.
  • Timeline: The project must be submitted within the given timeline.
  • Accuracy: The information given in the project must have accuracy.
  • Grammar: The content should be grammatically free of errors.
  • Creativity: The project must be creative. It must show the creativity and originality of the student.
  • Knowledge Gained: The project must show the knowledge gained in the concluding part.

Read More:  CBSE Class 12 Syllabus 2023-24: Download All Subjects PDF Here

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Which guide is best for CBSE Class 12 English?

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Class-XII Project on 'An Interview of an Eminent Person'

Fictitious Interview of an Eminent Person

Class-XII Project on 'An Interview of an Eminent Person'

👉  Front Page



Project Work

Submitted by

Name of the student: ___________________________

Roll No.: _____________

Section: ______________

Registration No.: ____________________(2019-2020)

In partial fulfillment to category – XII English Course

Please write in a Separate page

An Interview of an Eminent Person

Fictitious Interview of an Eminent Person, Sourav Ganguly

Sourav Ganguly, a former cricketer cum Captain in Indian Cricket Team

Please write in a Separate page  

👉  Acknowledgement

This project has given us golden chance for learning and self-development through cooperative activities. I want to thank respected Mr. /Mrs.__________________________ to whom I owe especially for preparing this project based on “An Interview of an Eminent Person”, Sourav Ganguly, a former cricketer cum Captain in Indian Cricket Team.

I do want to extend my heartfelt thanks to my friends, parents and others who helped me in various ways to make a final draft of this work and submit the same to our school.


 Signature of the student


This is to certify that this Project Report entitled “An Interview of AN Eminent Person, Sourav Ganguly, a former cricketer cum Captain in Indian Cricket Team” submitted by ___________________ Class XII Roll No._______ Registration No. ______________ Year_________ submitted in partial fulfillment to class XII English Course during the academic year 2018-2020 is a bonafide record of project work carried out under my guidance and supervision. 


 Signature of the Project Guide

 Name: ……………………....

 Designation: Assistant teacher

 Department: English

 School: Memari V. M. Institution (Unit-2)

👉  Contents

1. Introduction                         Page

2. Procedures and Input           Page

3. Output of the project            Page

4. Conclusion                           Page

5. References/Bibliography     Page

👉  Introduction

An interview could be a speech communication wherever queries area unit asked and answers area unit given. In common formulation, the word "interview" refers to a one-on-one conversation between an interviewer and an interviewee. The enquirer asks inquiries to that the respondent responds, usually so information may be transferred from interviewee to interviewer (and any other audience of the interview). Sometimes, information can be transferred in both directions. It is a communication, unlike a speech, which produces a one-way flow of knowledge. 

1.1 Project in our syllabus:

As per the new syllabus, Project work has been included as a part of the curriculum. We have created the selection per the provision of works.

1.2 Objectives: We will be capable of

(i) Identifying the characters, plots in the story

(ii) Dramatizing the story as a play by writing dialogue and adding dramatizing elements. 

1.3 Guiding Principle:

(i) A narrative may be remodeled into a drama by adding dramatic components.

(ii) Every portion may be increased by giving correct dialogue to the characters. 

1.4 Limitations

(i) The period for the whole project was solely 10 periods.

(ii)We don’t know much about a full-length drama.

(iii) Before this project, we tend to didn’t have a lot of plan regarding dramas. So, our notion regarding this specific style was terribly restricted.

👉  Procedures and Input

For the project entitled “An Interview of an Eminent Person, Sourav Ganguly” we worked in groups and sometimes in pairs through a systematic process. Our teacher mounted ten interventions for making the project effective. The details of our activities are enumerated below: 

First intervention: On the first day, we chose the subject “An Interview of an Eminent Person, Sourav Ganguly”. We planned that a rich pleasant script can be made to develop step by step. Then we went through the main events of the interview and studied the characters and setting. 

Second intervention: On the second day, we explored the behavioral types of each of the characters.

Third intervention: On the fourth day, we were divided into groups and the story was divided into different parts. Then we started writing dialogues. Our teacher sketched the necessary improvisations and modifications. 

Fourth intervention: On the fifth day developed a draft script as per the directions that got by our teacher.

Fifth intervention: On the sixth day, we distributed copies of the draft script to each group and the instruction was to go through the script. We incorporated a number of dialogues and erased some of them according to the suggestions made by the teacher for a better impact. 

Sixth intervention: Roles were distributed through tests. Then short listed students were asked to read out their script roles

Seventh intervention: On the seventh day, the copy of the final script was distributed to each student. Rehearsal of the drama started. Some students got off-stage duties like taking part in music, preparing the stage, arranging props etc. our teacher were unanimously selected the director to conduct the rehearsal.

Eighth intervention: On the eighth day, a rehearsal was performed while not taking facilitate of the script and any enhancements were created in our acting skills. 

Ninth intervention: On the ninth day, the drama was performed in our school auditorium. We were asked to evaluate the performance. This was given as our Homework.

Tenth intervention: We read out the evaluation report of the performance and then a general discussion started. Finally the Project Report was submitted for evaluation.

👉  Output of the Project

Interviewer: You are spending a lot of time on the outfield on top of your scheduled time as the president of the CAB. So what is your future plans regarding Bengal’s cricket?

Sourav Ganguly: I believe that groundwork is very important. And we attempt to give to the simplest of coaching and supervision to the foremost important Bengal cricketers in our Vision Twenty20. Experts like Laxman, Sekhar and Muralitharan has been roped in for this. We have some well-performing cricketers on our hands now. The Ranji Trophy tournament has yielded positive results for us, if only our last match had gone well then we'd have ended up because the leading team in our group. The team has not performed well in the Hazare Trophy, but we were quite successful in the 4 ODIs. I believe that if players who display an excellent amount of potential are selected and provided the specified facilities then positive results are sure to come our way. And CAB’S job is to provide these facilities.

Interviewer: Through you're saying and what quite initiatives the CAB are taking it's well understood that Sourav Ganguly has appropriated because the captain of the ship. Am I right?

Sourav Ganguly: This is a place to play and the association exists with the sole purpose of organizing games. When we had played in our days the then CAB authorities had tried to supply us the simplest of cricketing facilities. But during those days opportunities were scarce and investments were hard to come by. But now we have both. So the cricketing skills and temperament of our players are going to be placed on the test and can evidently be developed as a results of playing different, high profile matches in various and tough conditions. In this year itself we had played a pre–season match in Sri Lanka and that we have reaped the advantages of it within the Ranji Trophy. I believe that our players will never improve if they do not play against players who are better than them. I want to send the Bengal team to England next year. It will be expensive but still let’s see what can be done.

Interviewer: Are you channelling your attention to cultivating any particular type of cricketer: Fast bowler or batsman?

Sourav Ganguly: We are trying to give our attention in all the areas of Cricket. Laxman is for batting, T.A. Sekhar is for fast bowling and Muralitharan is for spin bowling. Cricketing talents like Amir Dani or Sudipto Pramanik are being cultivated.

Interviewer: The Indian-subcontinent isn't so good for pace-bowling, isn’t it?

Sourav Ganguly: We are not lacking in skill. It’s our perspective that we must change. Bowlers like Mohammad Sami, Umesh Jadav are bowling in the 140s and 150s mark. We have some good pace bowlers. Dinda is bowling really fast, there's a boy named Mukesh and there's Virpratap. There are a few of promising fellows in the U-19 squad too. Only our attitude must be changed. If we are conscious about it then change is possible.

Interviewer: Vision Twenty 20 means results are going to be obtained within 2020?

Sourav Ganguly: No. The name exists for its sake itself. There is no time limit. It is an ongoing process.

Interviewer: Now tell me something about the Indian side? 

Sourav Ganguly: They are about to go to Australia. Our team is a young team, browsing a transitional phase. They will take a while to adopt to the varied conditions. In our own country we were successful 30 years ago and that we still are. We always win on our turning tracks. But it will take some time to be successful in all sorts of pitches.

Interviewer: How is Virat as a captain?

Sourav Ganguly: He is successful till now. He has played 2 series till now, but if we start comparing him with Dhoni et al. then it won’t be fair. He should play at least one and a half to two years and only then he should be judged. As a player he is outstanding.

Interviewer: What are India’s prospects in the 2019 Cricket World Cup?

Sourav Ganguly: The world cup is still four years from now on. A lot of time. Nothing can be said right now. The tournament will be held in England. India will surely play well. But who knows what is going to be the team composition 4 years later. 

Interviewer: Isn’t it safe to assume that Dhoni will not be in the squad 4 years later?

Sourav Ganguly: No, tough to say. Everybody’s body is not the same. He may be able to continue till then. But nothing can be said right now. 4 years is a lot of time. Most of the youngsters will stay. And by that point our Wriddhi also will mature as an ODI player.

Interviewer: Are Twenty20 matches harming cricket?

Sourav Ganguly: No I don’t believe that. Just another saleable format, revenue earning format. This is the format which can actually keep all the opposite formats alive. I believe that test cricket is that the original format where the temperament of the players are put to the test. But the modern cricketer must adopt himself according to all the various formats. If he cannot suits the 20-20 format then he will lag behind financially. And that in turn will harm the cricketer even more. 

Interviewer: It is true that test cricket is the platform where the temperament of the players is put to the test. But can the temperament also be tested by monitoring whether or not that player is able to adjust to the Twenty20 format?

Sourav Ganguly: Why not? Virat Kohli can, New Zealand team’s Kane Williamson can, Steve Smith of Australia can.

Interviewer: How can they adjust? Any special skill or technique? 

Sourav Ganguly: Technique is essential in all formats of the game. But the secret to their success is that they are being able to mentally adopt a lot more efficiently.

Interviewer: If being modern is the key then why does the Indian DRS(Division Reserve System) not follow this? After all you also…..

Sourav Ganguly: Many things are not foolproof. But my experience with the DRS is very bad. Yes, if the umpires make a mistake then it can be rectified. But it’s not always accurate. It would be better if ball tracker is employed rather than DRS.

Interviewer: Why is that?

Sourav Ganguly: If the ball tracker is used in case of a Bat-pad catch or a caught behind the wicket then we can always get an accurate result. But, if the DRS is used, then the chance of making a judgmental error increases. 

Interviewer: You have said that the modern format of cricket will keep the original format alive. So what are your thoughts on ISL?

Sourav Ganguly: ISL has rekindled my passion for football. I was pleased to ascertain the Salt lake stadium full of 70 thousand audiences within the gallery. There is no East Bengal and Mohun Bagan match and yet there are 70 thousand people inside the stadium, it’s a fantastic thing. 

Interviewer: A lot of people are saying that the quality of the Indian players has improved. But again a lot of people are also criticizing it.

Sourav Ganguly: Indian players are bound to improve. No matter how much criticism they are facing if the game is not commercially sound improvement of the players is not possible. Look at what is happening with Kabaddi. Who had thought that players like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will play games in India? East Bengal and Mohun Bagan are struggling to find sponsors. It’s simply a result of bad marketing.

Interviewer: The public image of the sports authorities in India is not very good. Your juniors have grown up considering you as their role model but now that you have stepped into the role of management they might begin to dislike you. What do you think about that?

Sourav Ganguly: I have got this responsibility. This is my opportunity to do something good for the game. I have almost forgotten the last time I had played for the CAB League. If I had not got this responsibility then things Vision Twenty20 wouldn't be possible. Whatever I am doing, I am doing it for the game and it’s an honour. This job is not my most favourite job in the world. Still I am using this opportunity to do as much good I can for the game. T20 world cup is coming, the final match will be held in Eden. You should come and see that Eden has changed. Everything ranging from the outfield to the scoreboard will be functioning in a better condition. 

Interviewer: The kind of confidence you are exuding as management personnel are you aiming to become the BCCI president anytime soon?

Sourav Ganguly: I have duties elsewhere. I have a young family. So right now my priority is Bengal cricket and its development.

👉  Conclusion

The Project entitled, “An Interview of an Eminent Person, Sourav Ganguly, a former cricketer cum Captain in Indian Cricket Team”offered us a great scope to learn in detail about the process of writing an interview in view of the Indian context and made us learn diverse aspects of literature. We discovered the art of classroom management and rudimentary principles of writing an interview.

👉  Bibliography


2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sourav_Ganguly 

3. Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary by A.S. Hornby, Oxford University Press 

4. Kavoori, Anandam P. (2009). "The logics of globalization: studies in international communication". Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7391-2184-7.

5.Datta, Debashish (2007). "Sourav Ganguly, the maharaja of cricket". Niyogi Books.ISBN 81-89738-20-8.

👉 Smriti Srinivas Mandhana - Class XII: Project  

👉 Theatre Script - (Class-XII) Project Work  

👉 Fictitious Interview with Sourav Ganguly – Class XII: Project  

👉 Fictitious Interview with Sunil Gangopadhyaya – Class XII: Project  

👉 Writing an Autobiography – Class XI: Project  

👉 Dramatization of a Story – Class XI: Project  

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Post a comment, 20 comments.

interview based research project class 12

Please make a conversation with Ms Dhoni or Virat Kohli

sirr it's amazing.. thanks a lot but sir can you upload some summary videos of WBCHSE class 12th english poems.. bciz that will help a lot fir students of class 12th

interview based research project class 12

Thanks! for your review. It'll soon be available.

Thanks a lot

Sir please make a conversion with Vidyasagar.

Thank you sir... Its so helpful for us..

Sir, thank you so much

sir please make a interview with amitav ghosh

Thank you sir it's very helpful

this helped a lot... thanks

Thank you very much sir...

Thank you very nice

Thank you sir. My XII project is completed for just u..

Thank you sir

Thank you Sir

Best of Luck 👍

Thanks for this .this interview helps me . So thanks 👍🏻

I'm pleased to hear from you. Without any hesitation, kindly leave your valuable words in the Comment Box

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Sample Interview Project

For this assignment, you must identify one person to interview. That person can either occupy a similar class position as you or a very different class position—it is up to you. You will conduct a 30-60 minute interview with that person that is audio-recorded. This assignment has five purposes: (1) to give you a chance to develop and practice your interviewing skills, (2) to experience one of the major forms of research that many social scientists, journalists and other media producers use, (3) to give you a real life sense of what it’s like to live in the class position of the person you are interviewing, {four is optional, depending on whether you plan to assign the documentary project as well} (4) to give you the raw materials with which to develop a radio/audio documentary with your classmates and (5) to contribute stories to the ongoing digital archive of the 1500 Stories project. This assignment will be graded on a {you choose} point scale, with each step worth a certain number of points toward that total. Overall, this assignment is worth {you specify}% of your total grade in {your class}.

Step 1: Developing a list of questions.

While in-depth interviewers seldom memorize or restate interview questions verbatim, they do find it helpful to have a sense of what they will want to ask their respondents. So you should begin this assignment by jotting down a list of topics or questions to refer to in the interview. {Attached; at some point this will be up on the 1500 Stories website} you will also find a question bank with suggestions for questions to ask. You do not need to follow this list strictly and you should feel free to add your own; these questions are merely guidelines to ensure you get rich and detailed information about the respondent’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. Your questions must be OPEN-ENDED and designed to get STORIES from the respondent. Your goal is not to get information; it is to get stories .

Step 2: Choosing a respondent. NAME OF RESPONDENT, DATE/TIME OF INTERVIEW DUE ON {you choose the date} by {you choose the time} (? or 10 points)

A respondent is the person who agrees to talk with you and answer your questions. For this interview, the person must agree to be audio-recorded for publication on the 1500 Stories website . Show them the release form before you schedule the interview and get their consent before proceeding, so that you will know if you need to ask someone else instead. If you are e-mailing someone to make your request, I recommend using the line, “I am a college student in ______ at ______ College/University. I am doing a radio documentary about what it’s is like to live at different class positions for a public art, storytelling and civic engagement project called 1500 Stories . I would like to hear your story and I think your story is one that would be important to share with others.” You MAY use your personal networks—families, churches, mentors, high school faculty, community groups you belong to—if you want. You must begin trying to find someone IMMEDIATELY because you may get rejected by the first person or two you ask or have a hard time getting the person to respond to your calls and e-mails. Persistence is key. Keep in mind that even after you have set up the interview you will sometimes find that they stand you up and you have to reschedule. In worst-case scenarios, you may end up having to pursue another respondent. So it is very important to start this process as soon as possible.

It can be a challenge to find someone willing to spend time talking with you. Please keep in mind that when someone says yes, they are offering you a huge gift—the gift of their time and their vulnerability in letting you see a piece of their inner life. Be sure to convey your deep appreciation for this gift through your words and your actions.

When you have a respondent who has agreed to sign the release form, ask if s/he would be willing to talk with you for 30-45 minutes. Explain what the interview will be about and why you are doing it. Give them the release form (see attached) and have them sign it BEFORE THE INTERVIEW BEGINS. You might also give them some of the questions ahead of time so that they can be prepared and comfortable with what you are going to ask. Also make clear that the person can refuse to answer any question or stop the interview at any time.

Step 3: Conducting the interview. ELECTRONIC COPY OF AUDIO OR VIDEO RECORDING DUE and HARD COPY OF SIGNED RELEASE FORM DUE ON {you choose date} by {you choose time} (? Or 30 points)

{Once the website is up, the assignment can include these instructions: See the 1500 Stories website for the easiest audio recording apps to use for both Iphone and Android and be sure to load one.} Before the interview do a test run of your recording app that records for at least 30 minutes and try e-mailing it to someone to make sure it works. It is helpful if you talk with your respondent in a quiet place where you will not be interrupted. Remind the respondent that they can end the interview at any time or refuse to answer any question they do not feel comfortable with. Make clear that you would like to hear their stories. Record the interview—be sure that all of your equipment is recording properly BEFORE you begin the interview. In addition to the interview, were there any interesting sounds that might be useful to record? Remember that an interview is NOT the same as a conversation—your job is to ask questions, not to respond or comment on what the respondent shares. NEVER EVER INTERRUPT your interviewee and keep your opinions/comments to yourself. Wait at least 3-7 seconds after the respondent has finished talking before going on to the next question.

You will submit an electronic copy of your audio file to {you the teacher, or Jen Myhre at [email protected]} as an e-mail attachment or to the 1500 Stories Dropbox account no later than {you choose the date}. I would advise you to send it to me as soon as you have it done—your assignment doesn’t count as submitted until I have sent you a confirmation that says I was able to open the file and listen to it successfully. If you can name the file in your app, please name your file: yourfirstnamelastname_interviewwith_intervieweefirstnamelastname. ALL INDIVIDUAL INTERVIEWS LESS THAN 20 MINUTES LONG AND ALL INTERVIEWS WITHOUT A RELEASE FORM WILL RECEIVE ZERO CREDIT . You will get points based on how long the interview is. All individual interviews at least 30 minutes long will receive 100% of the points; you will get scored based on the percentage of minutes out of 30.

Some tips for conducting the interview :

Good follow-up probes are key to a good interview . Questions that ask for concrete descriptions or stories will provide better data than questions that ask for generalizations. I often probe with questions like

  • “Tell me the story of how you ….”
  • “Can you paint a picture for me of how…”
  • “Walk me through what happened when…”
  • “Could you tell me a little more about….”
  • “When you said …., what did you mean by that?”
  • “Can you describe a specific instance where you ….?”
  • “What did you think/feel about …?

LISTEN to what your respondent tells you. This is the most important interviewing skill. This means, to a certain extent, following what your respondent wants to talk about and asking follow-up questions to comments s/he has made. Listening will help you think of good follow-up questions to get further detail and a better understanding of what s/he has told you. You will get a better interview if you listen and follow-up on what your respondent has said than if you stick to the script of your questions.

It is often helpful at the end of an interview to ask the respondent if there is anything they would like to add . Sometimes we get the most interesting stories of the interview when we ask this. Make sure you do not turn off the recorder until you are walking away from the interview. J

Thank your respondent for taking the time to speak with you . This is important both because the respondent has offered you a real gift of her/his time and honesty and also because you don’t want to give researchers a bad name.

{Additional optional steps if you are planning to assign a documentary project as well}

Step 4: Transcribing the interview. (? or 30 points)

This involves typing up everything that is said in interview indicating who says what, with timecodes roughly every 30 seconds.  If you conducted the interview in a pair, each of you should divide the interview up evenly—one person transcribes the first half and the partner transcribes the second half and each of you will SUBMIT YOUR OWN HALF INDIVIDUALLY .  The point of transcription is to allow editors to search easily for key ideas and then be able to find them in the audio file based on the timecodes. Transcription also allows researchers to search the text.  Also, it is during the transcribing that you will learn from the mistakes you made during the interview—things you should have asked differently, questions that worked or didn’t work, things you wish you would have probed about.  The easiest way to transcribe is to download the audiorecording onto a computer and then upload it to the Otranscribe website.  It will ask you to drag and drop the audio file and allow you to easily timestamp, as well as go faster or slower through the file. The most important thing to remember is to then COPY AND PASTE the full transcript into your word processor because Otranscribe will not save it.  Be sure to save as/export as/download as a Word Format document.  Use the following file name: lastnameofintervieweefirstnameofinterviewee_transcript.  You will turn in an electronic copy of the transcript and you will also submit this list electronically to the {I use a forum on the class website, so that students can see each other’s transcripts}.

Your transcript must list the following information at the top:

  • Your name and section
  • Information about the respondent, including their name and demographic information (age, gender, race, occupation, education, and sexual orientation).

Step 5: Reflecting on and writing about the interview process. (? or 30 points)

Write a one-page, single-spaced and typed reflection paper in which you evaluate both yourself as an interviewer and interviewing as a process. Write one full paragraph per question, using the Point/Illustration/Explanation (PIE) format, with specific illustrations directly from the interview. Be sure to address the following questions in your paper:

  • Evaluate yourself as an interviewer. How do you think the interview went? If you could go back and do it again, what would you do differently?  Support your evaluation with specific examples.
  • What did you learn about the process of in-depth interviewing as a social research method from this experience? What can in-depth interviewing tell us that other kinds of methods, such as surveys or web research or looking at historical documents, cannot?  Support your conclusions with specific examples.

Even if you conducted your interview with a partner, you will do this section individually.

A Note about Next Steps: Once you have submitted your interview to your teacher, the interview is no longer just “yours” but rather belongs to you, the class as a whole, and the 1500 Stories project. For the documentary project, students in any of the sections may use any of the interviews in order to create their documentary . For your documentary, you will need to cut together and interweave at least two different interviews, using any interviews from our class .

I sometimes add the following note:

A Note to Filmmakers : If you are already a filmmaker and can send me a link to prior work, please talk to me about the possibility of doing a video documentary instead of a radio documentary.

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Class 12 (CBSE): English Projects

February 18, 2022 by studymumbai Leave a Comment

English Literature

English Project ideas for Class 12 (CBSE) students.

The Project can be Inter-disciplinary in theme. The ideas/issues highlighted In the chapters/ poems/ drama given the prescribed books can also be developed in the form of a project. Students can also take up any relevant and age-appropriate theme. Such topics may be taken up that provide students with opportunities for listening and speaking.


Hire us as project guide/assistant . Contact us for more information

Some suggestions are as follows: a. Interview-Based research: Example:

Students can choose a topic on which to do their research/ interview, e.g. a student can choose the topic : ” Evolving food tastes in my neighbourhood” or “Corona pandemic and the fallout on families.” Read the available literature. The student then conducts interviews with a few neighbours on the topic. For an Interview, with the help of the teacher, student will frame questions based on the preliminary research/background. The student will then write an essay/ write up / report etc. up to 1000 words on his/her research and submit it. The student will then take a viva on the research project.

Listen to podcasts/ interviews/radio or TV documentary on a topic and prepare a report countering or agreeing with the speakers. Write an 800 – 1000 words report and submit. Take a viva on the report.

Students create their own video/ Audio, after writing a script. Before they decide on a format, the following elements can be taken into consideration: Theme/topic of the audio / video. Would the child like to pick a current issue or something artistic like theatre? What are the elements that need to be part of the script? Will the video/audio have an Interview with one or more guests? Would they prefer to improvise while chatting with guests, or work from a script? What would be the duration? How would they present the script/report to the teacher, e.g. Can it be in the form of a narrative?

Write, direct and present a theatrical production, /One act play This will be a project which will be done as a team. It will involve planning, preparation and presentation. In short, various language skills will be utilised. There will be researching, discussion, writing the script, auditioning and ultimately producing the play. The project will end with a presentation and subsequently a viva. Teachers will be able to assess the core language skills of the students and help them grow as 21st century critical thinkers.


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Chapter 11. Interviewing


Interviewing people is at the heart of qualitative research. It is not merely a way to collect data but an intrinsically rewarding activity—an interaction between two people that holds the potential for greater understanding and interpersonal development. Unlike many of our daily interactions with others that are fairly shallow and mundane, sitting down with a person for an hour or two and really listening to what they have to say is a profound and deep enterprise, one that can provide not only “data” for you, the interviewer, but also self-understanding and a feeling of being heard for the interviewee. I always approach interviewing with a deep appreciation for the opportunity it gives me to understand how other people experience the world. That said, there is not one kind of interview but many, and some of these are shallower than others. This chapter will provide you with an overview of interview techniques but with a special focus on the in-depth semistructured interview guide approach, which is the approach most widely used in social science research.

An interview can be variously defined as “a conversation with a purpose” ( Lune and Berg 2018 ) and an attempt to understand the world from the point of view of the person being interviewed: “to unfold the meaning of peoples’ experiences, to uncover their lived world prior to scientific explanations” ( Kvale 2007 ). It is a form of active listening in which the interviewer steers the conversation to subjects and topics of interest to their research but also manages to leave enough space for those interviewed to say surprising things. Achieving that balance is a tricky thing, which is why most practitioners believe interviewing is both an art and a science. In my experience as a teacher, there are some students who are “natural” interviewers (often they are introverts), but anyone can learn to conduct interviews, and everyone, even those of us who have been doing this for years, can improve their interviewing skills. This might be a good time to highlight the fact that the interview is a product between interviewer and interviewee and that this product is only as good as the rapport established between the two participants. Active listening is the key to establishing this necessary rapport.

Patton ( 2002 ) makes the argument that we use interviews because there are certain things that are not observable. In particular, “we cannot observe feelings, thoughts, and intentions. We cannot observe behaviors that took place at some previous point in time. We cannot observe situations that preclude the presence of an observer. We cannot observe how people have organized the world and the meanings they attach to what goes on in the world. We have to ask people questions about those things” ( 341 ).

Types of Interviews

There are several distinct types of interviews. Imagine a continuum (figure 11.1). On one side are unstructured conversations—the kind you have with your friends. No one is in control of those conversations, and what you talk about is often random—whatever pops into your head. There is no secret, underlying purpose to your talking—if anything, the purpose is to talk to and engage with each other, and the words you use and the things you talk about are a little beside the point. An unstructured interview is a little like this informal conversation, except that one of the parties to the conversation (you, the researcher) does have an underlying purpose, and that is to understand the other person. You are not friends speaking for no purpose, but it might feel just as unstructured to the “interviewee” in this scenario. That is one side of the continuum. On the other side are fully structured and standardized survey-type questions asked face-to-face. Here it is very clear who is asking the questions and who is answering them. This doesn’t feel like a conversation at all! A lot of people new to interviewing have this ( erroneously !) in mind when they think about interviews as data collection. Somewhere in the middle of these two extreme cases is the “ semistructured” interview , in which the researcher uses an “interview guide” to gently move the conversation to certain topics and issues. This is the primary form of interviewing for qualitative social scientists and will be what I refer to as interviewing for the rest of this chapter, unless otherwise specified.

Types of Interviewing Questions: Unstructured conversations, Semi-structured interview, Structured interview, Survey questions

Informal (unstructured conversations). This is the most “open-ended” approach to interviewing. It is particularly useful in conjunction with observational methods (see chapters 13 and 14). There are no predetermined questions. Each interview will be different. Imagine you are researching the Oregon Country Fair, an annual event in Veneta, Oregon, that includes live music, artisan craft booths, face painting, and a lot of people walking through forest paths. It’s unlikely that you will be able to get a person to sit down with you and talk intensely about a set of questions for an hour and a half. But you might be able to sidle up to several people and engage with them about their experiences at the fair. You might have a general interest in what attracts people to these events, so you could start a conversation by asking strangers why they are here or why they come back every year. That’s it. Then you have a conversation that may lead you anywhere. Maybe one person tells a long story about how their parents brought them here when they were a kid. A second person talks about how this is better than Burning Man. A third person shares their favorite traveling band. And yet another enthuses about the public library in the woods. During your conversations, you also talk about a lot of other things—the weather, the utilikilts for sale, the fact that a favorite food booth has disappeared. It’s all good. You may not be able to record these conversations. Instead, you might jot down notes on the spot and then, when you have the time, write down as much as you can remember about the conversations in long fieldnotes. Later, you will have to sit down with these fieldnotes and try to make sense of all the information (see chapters 18 and 19).

Interview guide ( semistructured interview ). This is the primary type employed by social science qualitative researchers. The researcher creates an “interview guide” in advance, which she uses in every interview. In theory, every person interviewed is asked the same questions. In practice, every person interviewed is asked mostly the same topics but not always the same questions, as the whole point of a “guide” is that it guides the direction of the conversation but does not command it. The guide is typically between five and ten questions or question areas, sometimes with suggested follow-ups or prompts . For example, one question might be “What was it like growing up in Eastern Oregon?” with prompts such as “Did you live in a rural area? What kind of high school did you attend?” to help the conversation develop. These interviews generally take place in a quiet place (not a busy walkway during a festival) and are recorded. The recordings are transcribed, and those transcriptions then become the “data” that is analyzed (see chapters 18 and 19). The conventional length of one of these types of interviews is between one hour and two hours, optimally ninety minutes. Less than one hour doesn’t allow for much development of questions and thoughts, and two hours (or more) is a lot of time to ask someone to sit still and answer questions. If you have a lot of ground to cover, and the person is willing, I highly recommend two separate interview sessions, with the second session being slightly shorter than the first (e.g., ninety minutes the first day, sixty minutes the second). There are lots of good reasons for this, but the most compelling one is that this allows you to listen to the first day’s recording and catch anything interesting you might have missed in the moment and so develop follow-up questions that can probe further. This also allows the person being interviewed to have some time to think about the issues raised in the interview and go a little deeper with their answers.

Standardized questionnaire with open responses ( structured interview ). This is the type of interview a lot of people have in mind when they hear “interview”: a researcher comes to your door with a clipboard and proceeds to ask you a series of questions. These questions are all the same whoever answers the door; they are “standardized.” Both the wording and the exact order are important, as people’s responses may vary depending on how and when a question is asked. These are qualitative only in that the questions allow for “open-ended responses”: people can say whatever they want rather than select from a predetermined menu of responses. For example, a survey I collaborated on included this open-ended response question: “How does class affect one’s career success in sociology?” Some of the answers were simply one word long (e.g., “debt”), and others were long statements with stories and personal anecdotes. It is possible to be surprised by the responses. Although it’s a stretch to call this kind of questioning a conversation, it does allow the person answering the question some degree of freedom in how they answer.

Survey questionnaire with closed responses (not an interview!). Standardized survey questions with specific answer options (e.g., closed responses) are not really interviews at all, and they do not generate qualitative data. For example, if we included five options for the question “How does class affect one’s career success in sociology?”—(1) debt, (2) social networks, (3) alienation, (4) family doesn’t understand, (5) type of grad program—we leave no room for surprises at all. Instead, we would most likely look at patterns around these responses, thinking quantitatively rather than qualitatively (e.g., using regression analysis techniques, we might find that working-class sociologists were twice as likely to bring up alienation). It can sometimes be confusing for new students because the very same survey can include both closed-ended and open-ended questions. The key is to think about how these will be analyzed and to what level surprises are possible. If your plan is to turn all responses into a number and make predictions about correlations and relationships, you are no longer conducting qualitative research. This is true even if you are conducting this survey face-to-face with a real live human. Closed-response questions are not conversations of any kind, purposeful or not.

In summary, the semistructured interview guide approach is the predominant form of interviewing for social science qualitative researchers because it allows a high degree of freedom of responses from those interviewed (thus allowing for novel discoveries) while still maintaining some connection to a research question area or topic of interest. The rest of the chapter assumes the employment of this form.

Creating an Interview Guide

Your interview guide is the instrument used to bridge your research question(s) and what the people you are interviewing want to tell you. Unlike a standardized questionnaire, the questions actually asked do not need to be exactly what you have written down in your guide. The guide is meant to create space for those you are interviewing to talk about the phenomenon of interest, but sometimes you are not even sure what that phenomenon is until you start asking questions. A priority in creating an interview guide is to ensure it offers space. One of the worst mistakes is to create questions that are so specific that the person answering them will not stray. Relatedly, questions that sound “academic” will shut down a lot of respondents. A good interview guide invites respondents to talk about what is important to them, not feel like they are performing or being evaluated by you.

Good interview questions should not sound like your “research question” at all. For example, let’s say your research question is “How do patriarchal assumptions influence men’s understanding of climate change and responses to climate change?” It would be worse than unhelpful to ask a respondent, “How do your assumptions about the role of men affect your understanding of climate change?” You need to unpack this into manageable nuggets that pull your respondent into the area of interest without leading him anywhere. You could start by asking him what he thinks about climate change in general. Or, even better, whether he has any concerns about heatwaves or increased tornadoes or polar icecaps melting. Once he starts talking about that, you can ask follow-up questions that bring in issues around gendered roles, perhaps asking if he is married (to a woman) and whether his wife shares his thoughts and, if not, how they negotiate that difference. The fact is, you won’t really know the right questions to ask until he starts talking.

There are several distinct types of questions that can be used in your interview guide, either as main questions or as follow-up probes. If you remember that the point is to leave space for the respondent, you will craft a much more effective interview guide! You will also want to think about the place of time in both the questions themselves (past, present, future orientations) and the sequencing of the questions.

Researcher Note

Suggestion : As you read the next three sections (types of questions, temporality, question sequence), have in mind a particular research question, and try to draft questions and sequence them in a way that opens space for a discussion that helps you answer your research question.

Type of Questions

Experience and behavior questions ask about what a respondent does regularly (their behavior) or has done (their experience). These are relatively easy questions for people to answer because they appear more “factual” and less subjective. This makes them good opening questions. For the study on climate change above, you might ask, “Have you ever experienced an unusual weather event? What happened?” Or “You said you work outside? What is a typical summer workday like for you? How do you protect yourself from the heat?”

Opinion and values questions , in contrast, ask questions that get inside the minds of those you are interviewing. “Do you think climate change is real? Who or what is responsible for it?” are two such questions. Note that you don’t have to literally ask, “What is your opinion of X?” but you can find a way to ask the specific question relevant to the conversation you are having. These questions are a bit trickier to ask because the answers you get may depend in part on how your respondent perceives you and whether they want to please you or not. We’ve talked a fair amount about being reflective. Here is another place where this comes into play. You need to be aware of the effect your presence might have on the answers you are receiving and adjust accordingly. If you are a woman who is perceived as liberal asking a man who identifies as conservative about climate change, there is a lot of subtext that can be going on in the interview. There is no one right way to resolve this, but you must at least be aware of it.

Feeling questions are questions that ask respondents to draw on their emotional responses. It’s pretty common for academic researchers to forget that we have bodies and emotions, but people’s understandings of the world often operate at this affective level, sometimes unconsciously or barely consciously. It is a good idea to include questions that leave space for respondents to remember, imagine, or relive emotional responses to particular phenomena. “What was it like when you heard your cousin’s house burned down in that wildfire?” doesn’t explicitly use any emotion words, but it allows your respondent to remember what was probably a pretty emotional day. And if they respond emotionally neutral, that is pretty interesting data too. Note that asking someone “How do you feel about X” is not always going to evoke an emotional response, as they might simply turn around and respond with “I think that…” It is better to craft a question that actually pushes the respondent into the affective category. This might be a specific follow-up to an experience and behavior question —for example, “You just told me about your daily routine during the summer heat. Do you worry it is going to get worse?” or “Have you ever been afraid it will be too hot to get your work accomplished?”

Knowledge questions ask respondents what they actually know about something factual. We have to be careful when we ask these types of questions so that respondents do not feel like we are evaluating them (which would shut them down), but, for example, it is helpful to know when you are having a conversation about climate change that your respondent does in fact know that unusual weather events have increased and that these have been attributed to climate change! Asking these questions can set the stage for deeper questions and can ensure that the conversation makes the same kind of sense to both participants. For example, a conversation about political polarization can be put back on track once you realize that the respondent doesn’t really have a clear understanding that there are two parties in the US. Instead of asking a series of questions about Republicans and Democrats, you might shift your questions to talk more generally about political disagreements (e.g., “people against abortion”). And sometimes what you do want to know is the level of knowledge about a particular program or event (e.g., “Are you aware you can discharge your student loans through the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program?”).

Sensory questions call on all senses of the respondent to capture deeper responses. These are particularly helpful in sparking memory. “Think back to your childhood in Eastern Oregon. Describe the smells, the sounds…” Or you could use these questions to help a person access the full experience of a setting they customarily inhabit: “When you walk through the doors to your office building, what do you see? Hear? Smell?” As with feeling questions , these questions often supplement experience and behavior questions . They are another way of allowing your respondent to report fully and deeply rather than remain on the surface.

Creative questions employ illustrative examples, suggested scenarios, or simulations to get respondents to think more deeply about an issue, topic, or experience. There are many options here. In The Trouble with Passion , Erin Cech ( 2021 ) provides a scenario in which “Joe” is trying to decide whether to stay at his decent but boring computer job or follow his passion by opening a restaurant. She asks respondents, “What should Joe do?” Their answers illuminate the attraction of “passion” in job selection. In my own work, I have used a news story about an upwardly mobile young man who no longer has time to see his mother and sisters to probe respondents’ feelings about the costs of social mobility. Jessi Streib and Betsy Leondar-Wright have used single-page cartoon “scenes” to elicit evaluations of potential racial discrimination, sexual harassment, and classism. Barbara Sutton ( 2010 ) has employed lists of words (“strong,” “mother,” “victim”) on notecards she fans out and asks her female respondents to select and discuss.

Background/Demographic Questions

You most definitely will want to know more about the person you are interviewing in terms of conventional demographic information, such as age, race, gender identity, occupation, and educational attainment. These are not questions that normally open up inquiry. [1] For this reason, my practice has been to include a separate “demographic questionnaire” sheet that I ask each respondent to fill out at the conclusion of the interview. Only include those aspects that are relevant to your study. For example, if you are not exploring religion or religious affiliation, do not include questions about a person’s religion on the demographic sheet. See the example provided at the end of this chapter.


Any type of question can have a past, present, or future orientation. For example, if you are asking a behavior question about workplace routine, you might ask the respondent to talk about past work, present work, and ideal (future) work. Similarly, if you want to understand how people cope with natural disasters, you might ask your respondent how they felt then during the wildfire and now in retrospect and whether and to what extent they have concerns for future wildfire disasters. It’s a relatively simple suggestion—don’t forget to ask about past, present, and future—but it can have a big impact on the quality of the responses you receive.

Question Sequence

Having a list of good questions or good question areas is not enough to make a good interview guide. You will want to pay attention to the order in which you ask your questions. Even though any one respondent can derail this order (perhaps by jumping to answer a question you haven’t yet asked), a good advance plan is always helpful. When thinking about sequence, remember that your goal is to get your respondent to open up to you and to say things that might surprise you. To establish rapport, it is best to start with nonthreatening questions. Asking about the present is often the safest place to begin, followed by the past (they have to know you a little bit to get there), and lastly, the future (talking about hopes and fears requires the most rapport). To allow for surprises, it is best to move from very general questions to more particular questions only later in the interview. This ensures that respondents have the freedom to bring up the topics that are relevant to them rather than feel like they are constrained to answer you narrowly. For example, refrain from asking about particular emotions until these have come up previously—don’t lead with them. Often, your more particular questions will emerge only during the course of the interview, tailored to what is emerging in conversation.

Once you have a set of questions, read through them aloud and imagine you are being asked the same questions. Does the set of questions have a natural flow? Would you be willing to answer the very first question to a total stranger? Does your sequence establish facts and experiences before moving on to opinions and values? Did you include prefatory statements, where necessary; transitions; and other announcements? These can be as simple as “Hey, we talked a lot about your experiences as a barista while in college.… Now I am turning to something completely different: how you managed friendships in college.” That is an abrupt transition, but it has been softened by your acknowledgment of that.

Probes and Flexibility

Once you have the interview guide, you will also want to leave room for probes and follow-up questions. As in the sample probe included here, you can write out the obvious probes and follow-up questions in advance. You might not need them, as your respondent might anticipate them and include full responses to the original question. Or you might need to tailor them to how your respondent answered the question. Some common probes and follow-up questions include asking for more details (When did that happen? Who else was there?), asking for elaboration (Could you say more about that?), asking for clarification (Does that mean what I think it means or something else? I understand what you mean, but someone else reading the transcript might not), and asking for contrast or comparison (How did this experience compare with last year’s event?). “Probing is a skill that comes from knowing what to look for in the interview, listening carefully to what is being said and what is not said, and being sensitive to the feedback needs of the person being interviewed” ( Patton 2002:374 ). It takes work! And energy. I and many other interviewers I know report feeling emotionally and even physically drained after conducting an interview. You are tasked with active listening and rearranging your interview guide as needed on the fly. If you only ask the questions written down in your interview guide with no deviations, you are doing it wrong. [2]

The Final Question

Every interview guide should include a very open-ended final question that allows for the respondent to say whatever it is they have been dying to tell you but you’ve forgotten to ask. About half the time they are tired too and will tell you they have nothing else to say. But incredibly, some of the most honest and complete responses take place here, at the end of a long interview. You have to realize that the person being interviewed is often discovering things about themselves as they talk to you and that this process of discovery can lead to new insights for them. Making space at the end is therefore crucial. Be sure you convey that you actually do want them to tell you more, that the offer of “anything else?” is not read as an empty convention where the polite response is no. Here is where you can pull from that active listening and tailor the final question to the particular person. For example, “I’ve asked you a lot of questions about what it was like to live through that wildfire. I’m wondering if there is anything I’ve forgotten to ask, especially because I haven’t had that experience myself” is a much more inviting final question than “Great. Anything you want to add?” It’s also helpful to convey to the person that you have the time to listen to their full answer, even if the allotted time is at the end. After all, there are no more questions to ask, so the respondent knows exactly how much time is left. Do them the courtesy of listening to them!

Conducting the Interview

Once you have your interview guide, you are on your way to conducting your first interview. I always practice my interview guide with a friend or family member. I do this even when the questions don’t make perfect sense for them, as it still helps me realize which questions make no sense, are poorly worded (too academic), or don’t follow sequentially. I also practice the routine I will use for interviewing, which goes something like this:

  • Introduce myself and reintroduce the study
  • Provide consent form and ask them to sign and retain/return copy
  • Ask if they have any questions about the study before we begin
  • Ask if I can begin recording
  • Ask questions (from interview guide)
  • Turn off the recording device
  • Ask if they are willing to fill out my demographic questionnaire
  • Collect questionnaire and, without looking at the answers, place in same folder as signed consent form
  • Thank them and depart

A note on remote interviewing: Interviews have traditionally been conducted face-to-face in a private or quiet public setting. You don’t want a lot of background noise, as this will make transcriptions difficult. During the recent global pandemic, many interviewers, myself included, learned the benefits of interviewing remotely. Although face-to-face is still preferable for many reasons, Zoom interviewing is not a bad alternative, and it does allow more interviews across great distances. Zoom also includes automatic transcription, which significantly cuts down on the time it normally takes to convert our conversations into “data” to be analyzed. These automatic transcriptions are not perfect, however, and you will still need to listen to the recording and clarify and clean up the transcription. Nor do automatic transcriptions include notations of body language or change of tone, which you may want to include. When interviewing remotely, you will want to collect the consent form before you meet: ask them to read, sign, and return it as an email attachment. I think it is better to ask for the demographic questionnaire after the interview, but because some respondents may never return it then, it is probably best to ask for this at the same time as the consent form, in advance of the interview.

What should you bring to the interview? I would recommend bringing two copies of the consent form (one for you and one for the respondent), a demographic questionnaire, a manila folder in which to place the signed consent form and filled-out demographic questionnaire, a printed copy of your interview guide (I print with three-inch right margins so I can jot down notes on the page next to relevant questions), a pen, a recording device, and water.

After the interview, you will want to secure the signed consent form in a locked filing cabinet (if in print) or a password-protected folder on your computer. Using Excel or a similar program that allows tables/spreadsheets, create an identifying number for your interview that links to the consent form without using the name of your respondent. For example, let’s say that I conduct interviews with US politicians, and the first person I meet with is George W. Bush. I will assign the transcription the number “INT#001” and add it to the signed consent form. [3] The signed consent form goes into a locked filing cabinet, and I never use the name “George W. Bush” again. I take the information from the demographic sheet, open my Excel spreadsheet, and add the relevant information in separate columns for the row INT#001: White, male, Republican. When I interview Bill Clinton as my second interview, I include a second row: INT#002: White, male, Democrat. And so on. The only link to the actual name of the respondent and this information is the fact that the consent form (unavailable to anyone but me) has stamped on it the interview number.

Many students get very nervous before their first interview. Actually, many of us are always nervous before the interview! But do not worry—this is normal, and it does pass. Chances are, you will be pleasantly surprised at how comfortable it begins to feel. These “purposeful conversations” are often a delight for both participants. This is not to say that sometimes things go wrong. I often have my students practice several “bad scenarios” (e.g., a respondent that you cannot get to open up; a respondent who is too talkative and dominates the conversation, steering it away from the topics you are interested in; emotions that completely take over; or shocking disclosures you are ill-prepared to handle), but most of the time, things go quite well. Be prepared for the unexpected, but know that the reason interviews are so popular as a technique of data collection is that they are usually richly rewarding for both participants.

One thing that I stress to my methods students and remind myself about is that interviews are still conversations between people. If there’s something you might feel uncomfortable asking someone about in a “normal” conversation, you will likely also feel a bit of discomfort asking it in an interview. Maybe more importantly, your respondent may feel uncomfortable. Social research—especially about inequality—can be uncomfortable. And it’s easy to slip into an abstract, intellectualized, or removed perspective as an interviewer. This is one reason trying out interview questions is important. Another is that sometimes the question sounds good in your head but doesn’t work as well out loud in practice. I learned this the hard way when a respondent asked me how I would answer the question I had just posed, and I realized that not only did I not really know how I would answer it, but I also wasn’t quite as sure I knew what I was asking as I had thought.

—Elizabeth M. Lee, Associate Professor of Sociology at Saint Joseph’s University, author of Class and Campus Life , and co-author of Geographies of Campus Inequality

How Many Interviews?

Your research design has included a targeted number of interviews and a recruitment plan (see chapter 5). Follow your plan, but remember that “ saturation ” is your goal. You interview as many people as you can until you reach a point at which you are no longer surprised by what they tell you. This means not that no one after your first twenty interviews will have surprising, interesting stories to tell you but rather that the picture you are forming about the phenomenon of interest to you from a research perspective has come into focus, and none of the interviews are substantially refocusing that picture. That is when you should stop collecting interviews. Note that to know when you have reached this, you will need to read your transcripts as you go. More about this in chapters 18 and 19.

Your Final Product: The Ideal Interview Transcript

A good interview transcript will demonstrate a subtly controlled conversation by the skillful interviewer. In general, you want to see replies that are about one paragraph long, not short sentences and not running on for several pages. Although it is sometimes necessary to follow respondents down tangents, it is also often necessary to pull them back to the questions that form the basis of your research study. This is not really a free conversation, although it may feel like that to the person you are interviewing.

Final Tips from an Interview Master

Annette Lareau is arguably one of the masters of the trade. In Listening to People , she provides several guidelines for good interviews and then offers a detailed example of an interview gone wrong and how it could be addressed (please see the “Further Readings” at the end of this chapter). Here is an abbreviated version of her set of guidelines: (1) interview respondents who are experts on the subjects of most interest to you (as a corollary, don’t ask people about things they don’t know); (2) listen carefully and talk as little as possible; (3) keep in mind what you want to know and why you want to know it; (4) be a proactive interviewer (subtly guide the conversation); (5) assure respondents that there aren’t any right or wrong answers; (6) use the respondent’s own words to probe further (this both allows you to accurately identify what you heard and pushes the respondent to explain further); (7) reuse effective probes (don’t reinvent the wheel as you go—if repeating the words back works, do it again and again); (8) focus on learning the subjective meanings that events or experiences have for a respondent; (9) don’t be afraid to ask a question that draws on your own knowledge (unlike trial lawyers who are trained never to ask a question for which they don’t already know the answer, sometimes it’s worth it to ask risky questions based on your hypotheses or just plain hunches); (10) keep thinking while you are listening (so difficult…and important); (11) return to a theme raised by a respondent if you want further information; (12) be mindful of power inequalities (and never ever coerce a respondent to continue the interview if they want out); (13) take control with overly talkative respondents; (14) expect overly succinct responses, and develop strategies for probing further; (15) balance digging deep and moving on; (16) develop a plan to deflect questions (e.g., let them know you are happy to answer any questions at the end of the interview, but you don’t want to take time away from them now); and at the end, (17) check to see whether you have asked all your questions. You don’t always have to ask everyone the same set of questions, but if there is a big area you have forgotten to cover, now is the time to recover ( Lareau 2021:93–103 ).

Sample: Demographic Questionnaire

ASA Taskforce on First-Generation and Working-Class Persons in Sociology – Class Effects on Career Success

Supplementary Demographic Questionnaire

Thank you for your participation in this interview project. We would like to collect a few pieces of key demographic information from you to supplement our analyses. Your answers to these questions will be kept confidential and stored by ID number. All of your responses here are entirely voluntary!

What best captures your race/ethnicity? (please check any/all that apply)

  • White (Non Hispanic/Latina/o/x)
  • Black or African American
  • Hispanic, Latino/a/x of Spanish
  • Asian or Asian American
  • American Indian or Alaska Native
  • Middle Eastern or North African
  • Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander
  • Other : (Please write in: ________________)

What is your current position?

  • Grad Student
  • Full Professor

Please check any and all of the following that apply to you:

  • I identify as a working-class academic
  • I was the first in my family to graduate from college
  • I grew up poor

What best reflects your gender?

  • Transgender female/Transgender woman
  • Transgender male/Transgender man
  • Gender queer/ Gender nonconforming

Anything else you would like us to know about you?

Example: Interview Guide

In this example, follow-up prompts are italicized.  Note the sequence of questions.  That second question often elicits an entire life history , answering several later questions in advance.

Introduction Script/Question

Thank you for participating in our survey of ASA members who identify as first-generation or working-class.  As you may have heard, ASA has sponsored a taskforce on first-generation and working-class persons in sociology and we are interested in hearing from those who so identify.  Your participation in this interview will help advance our knowledge in this area.

  • The first thing we would like to as you is why you have volunteered to be part of this study? What does it mean to you be first-gen or working class?  Why were you willing to be interviewed?
  • How did you decide to become a sociologist?
  • Can you tell me a little bit about where you grew up? ( prompts: what did your parent(s) do for a living?  What kind of high school did you attend?)
  • Has this identity been salient to your experience? (how? How much?)
  • How welcoming was your grad program? Your first academic employer?
  • Why did you decide to pursue sociology at the graduate level?
  • Did you experience culture shock in college? In graduate school?
  • Has your FGWC status shaped how you’ve thought about where you went to school? debt? etc?
  • Were you mentored? How did this work (not work)?  How might it?
  • What did you consider when deciding where to go to grad school? Where to apply for your first position?
  • What, to you, is a mark of career success? Have you achieved that success?  What has helped or hindered your pursuit of success?
  • Do you think sociology, as a field, cares about prestige?
  • Let’s talk a little bit about intersectionality. How does being first-gen/working class work alongside other identities that are important to you?
  • What do your friends and family think about your career? Have you had any difficulty relating to family members or past friends since becoming highly educated?
  • Do you have any debt from college/grad school? Are you concerned about this?  Could you explain more about how you paid for college/grad school?  (here, include assistance from family, fellowships, scholarships, etc.)
  • (You’ve mentioned issues or obstacles you had because of your background.) What could have helped?  Or, who or what did? Can you think of fortuitous moments in your career?
  • Do you have any regrets about the path you took?
  • Is there anything else you would like to add? Anything that the Taskforce should take note of, that we did not ask you about here?

Further Readings

Britten, Nicky. 1995. “Qualitative Interviews in Medical Research.” BMJ: British Medical Journal 31(6999):251–253. A good basic overview of interviewing particularly useful for students of public health and medical research generally.

Corbin, Juliet, and Janice M. Morse. 2003. “The Unstructured Interactive Interview: Issues of Reciprocity and Risks When Dealing with Sensitive Topics.” Qualitative Inquiry 9(3):335–354. Weighs the potential benefits and harms of conducting interviews on topics that may cause emotional distress. Argues that the researcher’s skills and code of ethics should ensure that the interviewing process provides more of a benefit to both participant and researcher than a harm to the former.

Gerson, Kathleen, and Sarah Damaske. 2020. The Science and Art of Interviewing . New York: Oxford University Press. A useful guidebook/textbook for both undergraduates and graduate students, written by sociologists.

Kvale, Steiner. 2007. Doing Interviews . London: SAGE. An easy-to-follow guide to conducting and analyzing interviews by psychologists.

Lamont, Michèle, and Ann Swidler. 2014. “Methodological Pluralism and the Possibilities and Limits of Interviewing.” Qualitative Sociology 37(2):153–171. Written as a response to various debates surrounding the relative value of interview-based studies and ethnographic studies defending the particular strengths of interviewing. This is a must-read article for anyone seriously engaging in qualitative research!

Pugh, Allison J. 2013. “What Good Are Interviews for Thinking about Culture? Demystifying Interpretive Analysis.” American Journal of Cultural Sociology 1(1):42–68. Another defense of interviewing written against those who champion ethnographic methods as superior, particularly in the area of studying culture. A classic.

Rapley, Timothy John. 2001. “The ‘Artfulness’ of Open-Ended Interviewing: Some considerations in analyzing interviews.” Qualitative Research 1(3):303–323. Argues for the importance of “local context” of data production (the relationship built between interviewer and interviewee, for example) in properly analyzing interview data.

Weiss, Robert S. 1995. Learning from Strangers: The Art and Method of Qualitative Interview Studies . New York: Simon and Schuster. A classic and well-regarded textbook on interviewing. Because Weiss has extensive experience conducting surveys, he contrasts the qualitative interview with the survey questionnaire well; particularly useful for those trained in the latter.

  • I say “normally” because how people understand their various identities can itself be an expansive topic of inquiry. Here, I am merely talking about collecting otherwise unexamined demographic data, similar to how we ask people to check boxes on surveys. ↵
  • Again, this applies to “semistructured in-depth interviewing.” When conducting standardized questionnaires, you will want to ask each question exactly as written, without deviations! ↵
  • I always include “INT” in the number because I sometimes have other kinds of data with their own numbering: FG#001 would mean the first focus group, for example. I also always include three-digit spaces, as this allows for up to 999 interviews (or, more realistically, allows for me to interview up to one hundred persons without having to reset my numbering system). ↵

A method of data collection in which the researcher asks the participant questions; the answers to these questions are often recorded and transcribed verbatim. There are many different kinds of interviews - see also semistructured interview , structured interview , and unstructured interview .

A document listing key questions and question areas for use during an interview.  It is used most often for semi-structured interviews.  A good interview guide may have no more than ten primary questions for two hours of interviewing, but these ten questions will be supplemented by probes and relevant follow-ups throughout the interview.  Most IRBs require the inclusion of the interview guide in applications for review.  See also interview and  semi-structured interview .

A data-collection method that relies on casual, conversational, and informal interviewing.  Despite its apparent conversational nature, the researcher usually has a set of particular questions or question areas in mind but allows the interview to unfold spontaneously.  This is a common data-collection technique among ethnographers.  Compare to the semi-structured or in-depth interview .

A form of interview that follows a standard guide of questions asked, although the order of the questions may change to match the particular needs of each individual interview subject, and probing “follow-up” questions are often added during the course of the interview.  The semi-structured interview is the primary form of interviewing used by qualitative researchers in the social sciences.  It is sometimes referred to as an “in-depth” interview.  See also interview and  interview guide .

The cluster of data-collection tools and techniques that involve observing interactions between people, the behaviors, and practices of individuals (sometimes in contrast to what they say about how they act and behave), and cultures in context.  Observational methods are the key tools employed by ethnographers and Grounded Theory .

Follow-up questions used in a semi-structured interview  to elicit further elaboration.  Suggested prompts can be included in the interview guide  to be used/deployed depending on how the initial question was answered or if the topic of the prompt does not emerge spontaneously.

A form of interview that follows a strict set of questions, asked in a particular order, for all interview subjects.  The questions are also the kind that elicits short answers, and the data is more “informative” than probing.  This is often used in mixed-methods studies, accompanying a survey instrument.  Because there is no room for nuance or the exploration of meaning in structured interviews, qualitative researchers tend to employ semi-structured interviews instead.  See also interview.

The point at which you can conclude data collection because every person you are interviewing, the interaction you are observing, or content you are analyzing merely confirms what you have already noted.  Achieving saturation is often used as the justification for the final sample size.

An interview variant in which a person’s life story is elicited in a narrative form.  Turning points and key themes are established by the researcher and used as data points for further analysis.

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods Copyright © 2023 by Allison Hurst is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.


6 A Writing Studies Scholar Teaches Interview-Based Writing Assignments

Dr. Tyler Branson

Push play on the soundbar above to listen to part 1 of the chapter.


Push play on the soundbar above to listen to part 2 of the chapter.


18 min read

What You Will Learn in This Chapter

In this chapter you will learn some basic principles for conducting personal interviews with other people. You will also learn how to write an essay using this “primary” research as your main source. By the end of this chapter, you should be able to use primary research in combination with secondary research to make a specific claim in response to a research question or problem.

  • Primary Research
  • Secondary Research
  • Writing Studies

Conducting Interviews as Primary Research

In the humanities and social sciences, one form of primary research (data that the researcher collects themselves) is the personal interview. In college writing classrooms, instructors often assign primary research projects like the interview in combination with secondary research (existing data in the area you’re investigating) to shed light on a problem, issue, or topic. This is a challenging writing task because it involves several steps that tap into different writing abilities: First you have to figure out who you want to interview; then you have to decide what questions to ask; then you have to conduct the interview and record their responses in some way; and finally you have to write your report and incorporate their responses into your own writing. Despite the difficulty involved, these techniques are used in several different contexts outside of humanities-based research. For instance, journalists write stories based on personal interviews with influential people and/or experts; police officers interview eye-witnesses and write police reports to document their investigations; an auditor investigating the finances of a company may conduct an “audit interview” with employees to learn more about the financial information of the company. In each case, these professionals use interviews to collect information from specific people, and then use writing to put those interviews into context for specific audiences. According to Dana Lynn Driscoll, interviews “are an excellent way to learn in-depth information from a person.” So what are some basic guidelines for conducting an interview for a research paper in college?

Discovering your Purpose

The first thing you will need to do before conducting an interview is to figure out the purpose of the project. The purpose will vary depending on the assignment instructions, the goal of your project, or the criteria on which you will be evaluated. Nevertheless, there are some basic guidelines for discovering your purpose that apply in almost every scenario. First, you’ll need to ask yourself, why do I need to conduct interviews? What am I supposed to find out from my interviews? For example, is your purpose to collect expert testimonies from people who can provide insight into specialized topics? Or, perhaps you are being asked to conduct an interview that profiles an individual person and their day-to-day lives? Other purposes for interviews may simply be to share somebody’s story or to shed light on an important topic. According to Irving Seidman, in-depth interviewing ultimately is about trying to understand other human beings through their own interpretations of their experience (9). In other words, interviewing is about discovering how real people understand the meaning behind their behaviors and experiences. As a researcher, then, your goal before you embark on an interview-based project is to discover which human experiences would best help you figure out what you want to learn. So let’s try this. See if you can answer the following questions prior to designing an interview-based college writing assignment.

  • According to my instructor, the main goal of this assignment is to ______
  • I am being asked to conduct interviews so I can learn more about ______
  • In order to learn more about ______, I need to learn more about the experiences of _____ and how they attach meaning to ______

As you can see from the questions, before you do an interview project, you need to be able to articulate the main goal of the assignment, the main learning outcome you’re supposed to meet, and the specific people and their experiences that you think will lead you to that outcome.

So, let’s say your first-year composition instructor asks you to interview someone who works in your future industry and then write a paper summarizing the way they write in that field. Let’s also say that you’re an aspiring mechanical engineer. Your answers to the questions above might be as follows:

  • According to my instructor, the main goal of this assignment is to interview someone in mechanical engineering and write a paper about their writing practices
  • I am being asked to conduct interviews so I can learn more about how writing works in the field of mechanical engineering
  • In order to learn more about mechanical engineering, I need to learn more about the experiences of working mechanical engineers and how they attach meaning to their day-to-day activities .”

In the above scenario, the student’s answers to these questions (in bold) will help them tailor their interview questions to the specific purpose for the project. If you have an interview-based writing assignment, try filling in your own answers and see if it helps the brainstorming process.

Selecting Participants

After you’ve discovered the purpose of your interview project, your next step is to decide whom to interview. Part of this is logistical: What do you have time for? Who among your network would be willing to participate in an interview with you? Do you need to interview one person, or multiple? Should it be people you know, or do you need to contact people you’ve never met before? The answers to these questions all depend on the specific assignment.

Say, for example, your composition instructor asked you to interview an expert in the industry you hope to enter after college. If you are an aspiring high school teacher, for example, it might be best to reach out to a former teacher of yours that you still keep in contact with. However, if your assignment was to interview an expert on an important issue impacting your community, there’s a chance you may not know anybody in that field. In that case, you would contact local nonprofits and community activists who specialize in that specific issue, and then email or call to schedule an interview with someone. Whatever you do, it is important you understand the connection between the participants you select and the ultimate goal or learning outcome of the assignment.

Designing Interview Questions

So let’s say you’ve chosen an interview participant and they have agreed to be interviewed by you. Well done! This kind of logistical work is a challenging part of the writing process, because you need to cultivate your interpersonal skills and display confidence so that your interview subjects feel comfortable. But now, with an interview on the calendar, you need to come up with some questions. The best way to brainstorm questions is to make broader conceptual connections to your overall purpose, in the same way we did above.

So for example, you may remember that the interview is essentially a way to create new insights into a topic using a real live person’s quotations as evidence. In that case, your next task is to determine what kinds of questions would help you create specific insights that the assignment is asking for. As you brainstorm, try to come up with answers to the following prompts:

  • In order to learn more about _____, I am interviewing _____
  • Some specific experiences I want _____ to elaborate on might be _____

Notice that these prompts are designed to help you make explicit connections between the interview questions and what specifically you want to learn. So, let’s say you have an assignment that asks you to interview a faculty member at your university and write a paper about their research. Here’s how you might answer the previous brainstorming questions:

  • In order to learn more about faculty research at my university , I am interviewing my American history professor
  • Some specific experiences I want my professor to elaborate on might be what her book is about, how she came to be interested in this topic, and why this topic is important for people to understand

Again, it’s important to notice here that the answers (in bold) are directly tied to the topic you want to learn about. From here, you can design interview questions that are directly relevant and interesting for your participant.

Interview Questions to Avoid

While the kinds of questions you ask need to be specific to your overall purpose, there are some kinds of questions that won’t lead you in the right direction. According to the Purdue OWL, there are five types of questions you want to avoid.

  • Biased Questions : You do not want to ask or word your questions in a way that attempts to lead your participant in a certain direction. For example, if you are interviewing an expert about tax reform, you don’t want to phrase a question like: “Wouldn’t you agree that we need a flat tax rate in this country?” Instead, phrase it as an opportunity to learn about an issue: “What would you say are some of the pros and cons of a ‘flax-tax’ policy?”
  • Questions that assume what they ask: In the field of rhetoric, this is a common fallacy called “Begging the Question,” which is essentially stating or presuming something as a fact when you’re actually trying to prove or learn more about it in the first place. So for example, let’s say you’re interviewing a film historian and you say: “Why is Citizen Kane the best movie of all time?” That’s begging the question. You can’t presume the conclusion of your statement when you’re the one actually trying to learn more about it. Instead, ask, “What would you say is one of the best movies of all time?”
  • Double-Barreled Questions: A double-barreled question is a kind of clumsy interview technique where you ask multiple questions at the same time. This makes it difficult for participants to answer clearly and effectively. So, for example, let’s say you’re interviewing your history professor about their research and you say: “How did you become interested in pre-civil war history and what is its main relevance today?” This is “double-barreled” because it asks them to speak on two questions at once. Instead, ask one question at a time, “How did you become interested in pre-Civil War history?” After they answer, you may then choose to follow up with, “What lessons did you see in your studies of pre-civil war history that are applicable today?” or perhaps you can ask a follow-up question specific to their answer.
  • Confusing or Wordy Questions : You want to make sure that the questions you ask are worded in such a way that the participant knows exactly how to respond. So for example, let’s say you’re interviewing a working professional about the kinds of writing they do at their job. They might get confused if you ask them, “What do you think about writing in the workplace?” This is a confusing question because it’s so open-ended that they’ll likely only provide vague answers. Instead, make sure your question asks about specific things or actions. Try something like, “What are some specific documents you have to produce as part of your day-to-day work as an engineer?”
  • Questions unrelated to your purpose : The last kinds of interview questions to avoid, according to Purdue OWL, are questions that are unrelated to what you are trying to learn. When conducting an interview for your writing class, you need to ask yourself if the questions you are asking will help you meet the outcome of the assignment. For example, say you’re profiling a director at a nonprofit, and the assignment is to learn more about the issue in the community they’re trying to solve. You wouldn’t want to ask a question like, “What do you think about the recent election?” While the person’s views on this topic might be interesting, the answers are likely not going to help you answer your main research question, and you don’t want to waste their time.

Conducting the Interview

Here are a few more tips about conducting effective interviews.

  • Help your participant feel comfortable. Start with a minute or two of small talk so it doesn’t feel like an interrogation. Remember, this is a conversation after all.
  • Ask up front if you can record. It is important that your participant knows they are being recorded, and you don’t want to hide it from them or ask them in the middle of your conversation.
  • Please know that it is perfectly OK to go “off script” when you are interviewing. While you may have thought long and hard about your questions, sometimes the interview goes into new directions you didn’t anticipate. Don’t be so rigid that you can’t explore a new opportunity as the conversation develops. This kind of flexibility can help you learn new things you didn’t even realize you could learn from an interview.
  • Do your research. Before conducting the interview, try to learn as much as you can about the person you’re interviewing. What’s been written about them already? Have they given interviews in the past? What kinds of questions have they answered already, and how can you ask new or updated questions? Learn statistics about the broader issue you’re investigating so you can show your participant that you are interested and knowledgeable about the subject you are discussing.
  • Know the difference between open-ended and yes/no questions. In other words, you need to make sure the questions you ask can get you where you need to go in the interview. If you ask a question that can be answered in only yes or no, that’s where the discussion will end. Sometimes, that’s OK. For example, the question, “Do you enjoy your job?” is a closed question. It can be answered simply yes or no, and depending on the purpose of your interview, that may be an important insight you’ll want to know. But if you want an in-depth answer, a yes/no question won’t work. Instead, ask more open-ended questions that begin with “how” or “why” or “what.” These questions give your participant lots of room to explore their thoughts and experiences.  For example, instead of “do you enjoy your job,” you might ask, “What does it mean to love your job?”

Transcribing and Coding the Interview

After you have completed the interview, now it’s time to transcribe it, which means listening to it and writing out exactly what each person in the interview said. The main reason you should transcribe your interview is so you can provide direct quotes from your participant to use as evidence for claims you make in your essay. This is probably the most time-consuming aspect of your project, so make sure you budget appropriately. Here are three tips for effective transcription:

  • Listen to the entire interview first .  Listening to the interview all the way through before transcribing can help you identify pauses and the general rhythm of the conversation. It can also help you determine who’s talking at any given moment/
  • Come up with a coding system to help you transcribe quickly. As you transcribe, it is important to develop a coding system so that when you come back to it later you can quickly identify the quotes that you need. Whenever you or the interviewee speaks, for example, write out their name in all caps in the transcription document so that you don’t get mixed up when you are writing your essay. Also, when you’re typing the words said by each speaker, put their words into paragraphs, or small chunks, and then whenever they pause or move on to a new thought, start a new paragraph. This will help you keep their points organized so that you know which ones to come back to later. As you’re transcribing, you’ll also want to use ellipses, or “…” to indicate pauses or breaks in speech. And, after you’re done transcribing, highlight important points your participant makes, so that you can focus on them in your essay. For example, if you have been creating new paragraphs in your transcription document every time your participant moves on to a new thought or idea, you can highlight certain topics in specific colors. So for example, if you are doing a profile about a person in your community, you may highlight biographical information they shared with you in red, but use a different color for stories they share about their profession, and so on. Then, in your essay, if you want to quote from them, you know which colors to look for in your notes to use.
  • Verbatim transcription : Well, you see, I was [pause] the problem, as I saw it, was more of a, a matter of representation, you know? How can I, like, be the one that’s just out there just declaring the way things are when I’ve not even, like, you know, experiencing the whole process for myself?
  • Non-verbatim Transcription : The problem, as I saw it, was more a matter of representation. How can I be the one that’s out there declaring the way things are when I’ve not even experienced the whole process for myself?

Using Interview Data in your Essay

The last part of incorporating interview evidence into a college-level writing assignment is to actually write the essay. At this point, the hard part is over: you’ve brainstormed about the purpose and scope of the interview, you contacted and scheduled an interview with your participant, you’ve designed questions tailored to the assignment, and you’ve transcribed the audio of the interview and coded for interesting and worthwhile quotes you hope to use. Now, all you have to do is write up what you discovered. More than likely, your interview assignment will be asking you to make an argument about a topic, or to analyze a particular phenomenon and then support your claims with evidence from your interviews. Even if you’re doing a profile of an individual person, for example, your essay still needs to make some kind of claim or have some kind of common theme using the person’s life story as evidence. Whatever the purpose of your assignment, you use an interview source the same way you would use any other source in an essay: to back up a claim or a statement that you make. You are the one making the argument, so if you quote from the interview, the quote needs to be in support of a claim you are making, not the other way around. For example, let’s say you’re doing a profile of a local teacher, and you are describing her background. You should begin by contextualizing her background with a summary, and then move in with a direct quote that adds context to that summary. For instance, you might write something like this:

Stacey first became interested in teaching when she was just a little girl. “One of my earliest memories is teaching my little sister how to tie her shoe,” Stacey recollects.

There are two things to notice here. One, the quote isn’t just plopped in, forcing the reader to piece together why it is significant. There is a sentence before the quote that makes a specific point about the person. Second, the quotation doesn’t just repeat the statement made before it either. Instead, the quotation provides first-hand evidence in support of the claim you are making about her background. Also notice the verb choice for “recollects” as a way to attribute the quotation. There are lots of phrases for this, like “for example,” “according to,” “she said,” “she described,” etc. Try out a variety of these throughout your essay.

Incorporating interviews into your writing-based research project is a great way to focus on the experiences of another person and to put someone’s life experiences in the context of broader social and cultural issues. But there is a lot of work that goes into the interview-essay before you can even start writing. First, you need to figure out the purpose of your interview. Then, you need to select participants and design effective questions. After that, you need to actually conduct and then transcribe the interview. And then you can begin writing your essay. By the time you start writing, you will have already spent a considerable amount of time with this subject, which hopefully will help you write and sort through what you want to say.

Moreover, as you write your essay, you need to make specific claims, statements, or interpretations about the subject of your interview, and utilize their words as evidence to back up your claims (much like you would any other academic source). Begin with an introduction, where you introduce the broader topic of the paper in your own words, and then move into separate paragraphs that make specific points about your interviewee or the broader subject your paper is about. Use quotes from your color-coded interview transcript that “back-up” or provide context to the points you are making in those body paragraphs. Make sure the quotes you choose don’t just repeat what you are writing either. The quotes you choose need to extend, support, or clarify your writing.

If you’ve done a good job on your interview-essay, you will come to new ideas, arguments, or insights by putting your own writing in conversation with the quotations of others. Using interview data in your essays can make your writing more exciting and engaging. It can also help you make sense of big topics through the very specific experiences of individual people. And as we saw in the introduction of this chapter, the skills you develop conducting interviews will help you in a vast array of other fields, from journalism to accounting. Using interviews in your writing classes can also help you develop confidence or expand your personal network. At its core, though, conducting interviews for college-level writing assignments is a great way, at least briefly, to walk in somebody else’s shoes. By using writing to see the world through somebody else’s eyes, we can think more critically about our world and the diverse ways everyday people navigate it.

About the author

Contributor photo

name: Tyler Branson

institution: University of Toledo

website: https://www.utoledo.edu/al/english/faculty/branson.html

Dr. Tyler Branson is an assistant professor of English and the associate director of composition at the University of Toledo. He has published articles in College Composition and Communication, Composition Studies , and WPA: Writing Program Administration , and he has essays in the edited collections Bad Ideas about Writing and the Cambridge Handbook of Service Learning and Community Engagement . His book Policy Regimes: College Writing and Public Education Policy in the United States, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press.

Who Teaches Writing? Copyright © 2021 by Dr. Tyler Branson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Home / Blog / CBSE Class 12 English Project Guide (2023-24)

CBSE Class 12 English Project Guide (2023-24)

  • Last Updated on Dec 19, 2023

The class 12th English project is an integral part of the English subject curriculum. It is worth 20 marks out of a total of 100 marks. Students will be given on the basis of the project they prepare, along with internal assessment. The project is based on reading skills, writing skills, and literature text. Here is a guide for preparing English project class 12 CBSE that includes the marking scheme, project objective, how to prepare a project, etc.

CBSE Class 12th English Project guidelines 2023-24

The CBSE has provided the guidelines for the Class 12th English Project for 2023-24. There are no particular guidelines to prepare for English project class 12, but there are general ones. Take a look-

– The project should be based on independent reading and learning skills.

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– Students can select a non-syllabus book to prepare their project. 

– It must include creative writing skills. You can write a formal/informal letter or notice in your class 12th English project.

– It should be based on the section-wise distribution of marks for the project that includes Literature text, Reading Skills, and Creative Writing Skills.

These are a few basic guidelines students have to follow while preparing an English project for class 12. Make sure it aligns with the CBSE Class 12 English Syllabus 2023-24 and helps to develop your creative writing and reading skills and language proficiency.

Furthermore, you can also read the CBSE Class 12th English book NCERT.

Marking scheme of CBSE class 12th English Project Work 2023-24

Before you prepare your CBSE class 12th English project, take a look at the marking scheme for the English board exam-

– The total marks for the class 12th examination are 100, from which 80 marks are for the main paper, and 20 are for internal assessment and project work. 

– The project is worth 10 marks. There will be an assessment of speaking and listening skills of 05 marks each.

CBSE class 12th English Project Work Written test Syllabus 2023-24

The English Written test Syllabus for Class 12 will be on the basis of the English Syllabus 2023-24. There will be three sections in the English paper- Reading Skills, Creative Writing Skills, and Literature Text.

The written exam of English class 12 is a total of 80 marks. The total marks for the English subject is 100, out of which 80 marks are for the written exam and 20 are for the Class 12th English Project and assessment.

Furthermore, You can also check the CBSE Class 12 English Core Syllabus 2023-24.

Objectives of CBSE Class 12th English Project 2023-24

The objectives of class XII English project are-

To enhance the reading, speaking, and listening skills of students. It will help them to extract information and develop confidence to speak and participate in public discussion.

It will help to develop language proficiency and focus on improving vocabulary and grammar.

Preparing projects will help improve their writing skills. They will be writing letters, notices, and ads, and maybe their project will include designing posters as well.

CBSE Class 12th English Project Work Ideas 2023-24

  • The theme of the project can be inter-disciplinary. The ideas/issues discussed in the prescribed books’ chapters/poems/dramas can also be extended into a project.
  • Students can also choose any relevant and age-appropriate topic.

How to Prepare for the Class 12th English Project 2023-24?

Understand the syllabus: before you prepare your Class 12 English Project, it is essential that you understand the syllabus. It will provide you with some ideas for topics. 

Choose a topic: Pick a topic you are familiar with and that interests you for class 12 English project topics. Also, make sure it aligns with the guidelines provided by CBSE and the syllabus for the academic year 2023-24. 

Research: While preparing for the project, do not skip on doing as much research as possible. Gather relevant information on the topic from various sources. Make notes and organize your research to make a project that stands out.

Plan and organize: Set a deadline to complete and submit your project. Create a plan and stick to it to make it in an organized way.

FAQs regarding Class 12 English Project 2023-24

1. How to prepare for the Class 12 English Project?

Follow the guidelines provided by CBSE to make a Class 12 English Project and choose a topic you are familiar with.

2. Can we get a Class 12 English Project Topic Idea from the NCERT Books?

Yes. You can take ideas from NCERT books for class 12 English project topics.

3. Is it compulsory to prepare for the CBSE Class 12 English Project?

Internal assessment will be done on the basis of your project. Hence, it is important to prepare an English project.

4. How to prepare for Class 12th English Project Viva-Voice?

Understand the topic of your subject and research on it. Also, prepare the class 12 English syllabus.

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interview based research project class 12

The Interview Introduction

Theme of the lesson, the interview summary, the interview summary in hindi.

  • The Interview Video Part 1 Explanation
  • The Interview Video Part 2 Explanation
  • The Interview Lesson Explanation
  • The Interview Question Answers
  • The Interview Class 12 MCQ Question Answers
  • The Interview Important Question Answers 

The Interview by Christopher Silvester is an excerpt taken from his Penguin Book of interviews. In this, he talks about various opinions of the celebrities regarding an interview; its functions, methods and merits. It also consists of an excerpt from an interview with the infamous writer Umberto Eco.

The interview has two stories. In story one the narrator tells us about the reaction and views of celebrities towards an interview. Most of the famous personalities find them to intrude on their personal lives and some have never given an interview all their life. The story has the theme of how the freedom of the press can curtail an individual’s privacy.

The second story is a part of an interview of the famous writer and academician Umberto Eco. In this story we get to know the various qualities of time management used by the famous writer. These help him gather so many feathers in his hat. He gives the details of the various aspects which contribute to a person’s success. Top

The Interview Class 12 Video Part 1 Explanation

The lesson begins with the introduction to interview as a commonplace of journalism since its invention, which was a little over 130 years ago. According to the author, it is not very surprising that people have very distinct opinions about the usage of interview. Some think of it in its highest form whereas some people can’t stand being interviewed. An interview leaves a lasting impression and according to an old saying, when perceptions are made about a certain person, the original identity of his soul gets stolen. Famous celebrities, writers and artists have been heard criticising interviews. Rudyard Kipling’s wife wrote in her diary how their day in Boston was ruined by two reporters. Kipling considers interviewing an assault, a crime that should attract punishment. He believes that a respectable man would never ask or give an interview.

There is an excerpt from the interview between Mukund (from The Hindu newspaper) and Umberto Eco, a professor at the University of Bologna in Italy who had already acquired a formidable reputation as a scholar for his ideas on semiotics (the study of signs), literary interpretation, and medieval aesthetics before he turned to writing fiction. The interview revolves around the success of his novel, The Name of the Rose whose more than ten million copies were sold in the market. The interviewer begins by asking him how Umberto manages to do so many different things to which he replies by saying that he is doing the same thing. He further justifies and mentions that his books about children talk about peace and non-violence which in the end, reflect his interest in philosophy. Umberto identifies himself as an academic scholar who attends academic conferences during the week and writes novels on Sundays. It doesn’t bother him that he is identified by others as a novelist and not a scholar, because he knows that it is difficult to reach millions of people with scholarly work. He believes there are empty spaces in one’s life, just like there are empty spaces in atoms and the Universe. He calls them interstices and most of his productive work is done during that time. Talking about his novel, he mentions that it is not an easy-read. It has a detective aspect to it along with metaphysics, theology and medieval history. Also, he believes that had the novel been written ten years earlier or later, it would have not seen such a huge success. Thus, the reason for its success still remains a mystery.

यह पाठ पत्रकारिता के एक सामान्य स्थान के रूप में इंटरव्यू के परिचय के साथ शुरू होता है जो बोहोत साल पहले का है | लेखक के अनुसार, यह बहुत आश्चर्य की बात नहीं है कि इंटरव्यू के उपयोग के बारे में लोगों की बहुत अलग राय है।

कुछ इसे अपने उच्चतम रूप में सोचते हैं जबकि कुछ लोग इंटरव्यू को बर्दाश्त नहीं कर सकते।

इंटरव्यू एक स्थायी छाप छोड़ता है और एक पुरानी कहावत के अनुसार, जब किसी निश्चित व्यक्ति के बारे में धारणा बनाई जाती है, तो उसकी आत्मा की मूल पहचान चोरी हो जाती है। कई प्रसिद्ध हस्तियों, लेखकों और कलाकारों को इंटरव्यू की आलोचना करते हुए सुना गया है।

रुडयार्ड किपलिंग की पत्नी ने अपनी डायरी में लिखा कि कैसे बोस्टन में उनके दिन को दो पत्रकारों ने बर्बाद कर दिया। किपलिंग इंटरव्यू को एक हमले के रूप में मानते हैं, एक ऐसा अपराध जिसके लिए सजा दी जानी चाहिए।

उनका मानना ​​​​है कि एक सम्मानित व्यक्ति कभी नहीं पूछेगा या इंटरव्यू नहीं देगा।

ये मुकुंद (द हिंदू अखबार से) और इटली में बोलोग्ना विश्वविद्यालय के प्रोफेसर अम्बर्टो इको के बीच इंटरव्यू का एक अंश है, जिन्होंने कथा लेखन की ओर रुख करने से पहले से ही अपने लाक्षणिकता (संकेतों का अध्ययन), साहित्यिक व्याख्या, और मध्यकालीन सौंदर्यशास्त्र के विचारों के लिए एक स्कॉलर के रूप में शानदार प्रतिष्ठा हासिल कर ली थी। इंटरव्यू उनके उपन्यास, द नेम ऑफ द रोज़ की सफलता के इर्द-गिर्द घूमता है, जिसकी दस मिलियन से अधिक प्रतियां बाजार में बिकीं हुई थी।

इन्टर्व्यूअर उनसे यह पूछकर शुरू करता है कि कैसे अम्बर्टो इतने सारे अलग-अलग काम करने का प्रबंधन करता है जिसके लिए वह यह कहकर जवाब देता है कि वह वही काम कर रहा है। वह आगे औचित्य और उल्लेख करते हैं कि बच्चों के बारे में उनकी किताबें शांति और अहिंसा के बारे में बात करती हैं जो अंत में उनकी फिलॉसोफी में रुचि को दर्शाती हैं।

अम्बर्टो खुद को एक अकादमिक स्कॉलर के रूप में पहचानता है जो सप्ताह के दौरान अकादमिक सम्मेलनों में भाग लेता है और रविवार को उपन्यास लिखता है।

इससे उसे कोई फर्क नहीं पड़ता कि दूसरे उसकी पहचान एक उपन्यासकार के रूप में करते हैं न कि एक स्कॉलर के रूप में, क्योंकि वह जानता है कि लाखों लोगों तक विद्वानों का काम करना मुश्किल है। उनका मानना ​​​​है कि लोगो के जीवन में एक रिक्त स्थान होते हैं, जैसे परमाणुओं और ब्रह्मांड में रिक्त स्थान होते हैं।

वह उन्हें अंतर्मुखी कहते हैं और उनके अधिकांश उत्पादक कार्य उसी समय के दौरान किए जाते हैं। अपने उपन्यास के बारे में बात करते हुए उन्होंने उल्लेख किया कि यह आसानी से पढ़ा जाने वाला नहीं है। तत्वमीमांसा, धर्मशास्त्र और मध्ययुगीन इतिहास के साथ इसका एक जासूसी पहलू भी है।

साथ ही, उनका मानना ​​है कि अगर उपन्यास दस साल पहले या बाद में लिखा गया होता, तो उसे इतनी बड़ी सफलता नहीं मिलती। इस प्रकार, उम्बर्तो की सफलता का कारण अभी भी एक रहस्य बना हुआ है।

Class 12 Important Videos Links

The Interview Class 12 Video Part 2 Explanation

The Interview Lesson and Explanation

Passage – Since its invention a little over 130 years ago, the interview has become a commonplace of journalism. Today, almost everybody who is literate will have read an interview at some point in their lives, while from the other point of view, several thousand celebrities have been interviewed over the years, some of them repeatedly.

Word Meaning:

Commonplace – not unusual; ordinary

Explanation of the Above Passage – Interview, an inevitable part of journalism was discovered over 130 years ago. These days, it is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, people who are educated are believed to have read an interview at one or other point in their lives and on the other hand, almost every celebrity has been interviewed more than once.

Passage – So it is hardly surprising that opinions of the interview — of its functions, methods and merits — vary considerably. Some might make quite extravagant claims for it as being, in its highest form, a source of truth, and, in its practice, an art. Others, usually celebrities who see themselves as its victims, might despise the interview as an unwarranted intrusion into their lives, or feel that it somehow diminishes them, just as in some primitive cultures it is believed that if one takes a photographic portrait of somebody then one is stealing that person’s soul.

Extravagant- excessive or elaborate Despise – hate, dislike Unwarranted – not justified or authorised Intrusion – the action of intruding; intervention Primitive – ancient, olden

Explanation of the Above Passage – Since it is very commonly used, it is not unbelievable that many people have conflicting views about the usage and advantages of an interview. Some people have elaborative claims about it’s goodness as they believe it to be a path towards knowing complete truth and consider it’s practice to be an art. If looked at from the interviewee’s point of view, it may look like an unwanted intervention in their personal lives. It creates a picture in the minds of readers and viewers which according to an old saying, steals the original identity of the person.

Passage – V. S. Naipaul ‘feels that some people are wounded by interviews and lose a part of themselves,’ Lewis Carroll, the creator of Alice in Wonderland, was said to have had ‘a just horror of the interviewer’ and he never consented to be interviewed — It was his horror of being lionized which made him thus repel would be acquaintances, interviewers, and the persistent petitioners for his autograph and he would afterwards relate the stories of his success in silencing all such people with much satisfaction and amusement. V. S. Naipaul- Known as a cosmopolitan writer. In his travel books and in his documentary works he presents his impressions of the country of his ancestors that is India. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2001.

Word Meaning: Lionized – give a lot of public attention and approval Repel- drive or force back Persistent – continuous Petitioners – a person who asks for something Amusement – the provision or enjoyment of entertainment

Explanation of the Above Passage – Many famous personalities have a bad impression in their minds about interviews. The cosmopolitan writer, V. S. Naipaul feels that a bad interview has the tendency of leaving them wounded for life. The creator of Alice in Wonderland never consented to be interviewed as he was too scared of the interviewer. He feared that a lot of attention would be drawn towards him and thus, he remained away from those who knew him – those who wanted to either interview him or get an autograph of his. He would narrate tales of his success at avoiding such requests with satisfaction and enjoyment.

Passage – Rudyard Kipling expressed an even more condemnatory attitude towards the interviewer. His wife, Caroline, writes in her diary for 14 October 1892 that their day was ‘wrecked by two reporters from Boston’. She reports her husband as saying to the reporters, “Why do I refuse to be interviewed? Because it is immoral! It is a crime, just as much of a crime as an offence against my person, as an assault, and just as much merits punishment. It is cowardly and vile. No respectable man would ask it, much less give it,” Yet Kipling had himself perpetrated such an ‘assault’ on Mark Twain only a few years before.

Rudyard Kipling- A prolific writer who was known as the poet of the common soldier. Kipling’s Jungle Book which is a story of Kimball O’ Hara and his adventures in the Himalayas is considered a children’s classic all over the world.

Word Meaning: Condemnatory – expressing strong disapproval Wrecked- destroyed or severely damaged Assault- make a physical attack on Vile – extremely unpleasant Perpetrated- committed; performed

Explanation of the Above Passage – Rudyard Kipling was strongly against the idea of getting interviewed. His wife recorded one such incident in her diary when their day in Boston was ruined by two reporters. She also made an account of why her husband refused to appear for an interview. According to him, interviews are immortal and he calls interviewing a ‘crime’ which should attract punishment just as any other crime. It is an extremely unpleasant experience and no man with self-respect would ask or consent to it. Ironically, Kipling once carried on such ‘assault’ on Mark Twain some years earlier.

Passage – H. G. Wells in an interview in 1894 referred to ‘the interviewing ordeal’, but was a fairly frequent interviewee and forty years later found himself interviewing Joseph Stalin. Saul Bellow, who has consented to be interviewed on several occasions, nevertheless once described interviews as being like thumbprints on his windpipe. Yet despite the drawbacks of the interview, it is a supremely serviceable medium of communication. “These days, more than at any other time, our most vivid impressions of our contemporaries are through interviews,” Denis Brian has written. “Almost everything of moment reaches us through one man asking questions of another. Because of this, the interviewer holds a position of unprecedented power and influence.”

Word Meaning : H. G. Wells- An English novelist, journalist, sociologist and historian he is known for his works of science fiction. Wells best known books are The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The War of the Worlds. Joseph Stalin – A great Russian revolutionary and an active political organiser. Saul Bellow – A playwright as well as a novelist, Bellow’s works were influenced widely by World War II. Among his most famous characters are Augie March and Moses. He published short stories translated from Yiddish. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1976. Ordeal- a very unpleasant and prolonged experience Serviceable – fulfilling its function adequately; usable Vivid – producing powerful feelings or strong, clear images in the mind. Contemporaries – a person or thing living or existing at the same time as another. Unprecedented – never done or known before

Explanation of the Above Passage – The famous English novelist and journalist, H.G.Wells said that an interview was an unpleasant experience but forty years later, he interviewed the Russian revolutionary, Joseph Stalin. Another writer, Saul Bellow commented that an interview seemed to be like fingertips on his windpipe which means that he felt choked and suffocated when he sat for one. Despite the drawbacks, an interview seemed to fulfil its purpose of communicating with the audience.According to Denis Brian, an interview gives us the most clear impression of the people of our times. The set up of one man, the interviewer asking questions from the other, the interviewee gives him power and influence.

Passage – “I am a professor who writes novels on Sundays” – Umberto Eco

The following is an extract from an interview of Umberto Eco. The interviewer is Mukund Padmanabhan from The Hindu. Umberto Eco, a professor at the University of Bologna in Italy had already acquired a formidable reputation as a scholar for his ideas on semiotics (the study of signs), literary interpretation, and medieval aesthetics before he turned to writing fiction. Literary fiction, academic texts, essays, children’s books, newspaper articles— his written output is staggeringly large and wide-ranging, In 1980, he acquired the equivalent of intellectual superstardom with the publication of The Name of the Rose, which sold more than 10 million copies.

Word Meaning: Formidable- inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense or capable Medieval- relating to the Middle Ages Aesthetics- a branch of philosophy that deals with nature and appreciation of beauty Staggeringly – to an astonishing or shocking degree

Explanation of the Above Passage – The following is a part of an interview of the Italian novelist named, Umberto Eco. He said that he wrote novels on Sundays. Mukund Padmanabhan from The Hindu newspaper interviewed him. Umberto Eco was a professor at the University of Bologna, Italy at that time. He was famous for his thoughts on semiotics, interpretation of writings and the beauty of the middle ages. Later, he turned to write fiction. He wrote a variety of literature – fiction, academic texts, essays, books for children and articles for newspapers. He rose to fame in the year 1980 when his book titled ‘The Name of the Rose’ became a bestseller.

Passage – Mukund: The English novelist and academic David Lodge once remarked, “I can’t understand how one man can do all the things he [Eco] does.” Explanation of the Above Passage – The interviewer begins by praising Umberto Eco and quoting the words of David Lodge where he mentioned that it is out of his capacity to understand how one person (here, Umberto Eco) could be good at so many things.

Passage – Umberto Eco: Maybe I give the impression of doing many things. But in the end, I am convinced I am always doing the same thing. Explanation of the Above Passage – Umberto replied by specifying that maybe it looked like he did a multiple distinct tasks, but according to him, he was always doing the same thing.

Passage – Mukund: Which is? Explanation of the Above Passage – Mukund curiously asked him about the ‘same thing’ that Eco found himself doing.

Passage – Umberto Eco: Aah, now that is more difficult to explain. I have some philosophical interests and I pursue them through my academic work and my novels. Even my books for children are about non-violence and peace…you see, the same bunch of ethical, philosophical interests. And then I have a secret. Did you know what will happen if you eliminate the empty spaces from the universe, eliminate the empty spaces in all the atoms? The universe will become as big as my fist. Similarly, we have a lot of empty spaces in our lives. I call them interstices. Say you are coming over to my place. You are in an elevator and while you are coming up, I am waiting for you. This is an interstice, an empty space. I work in empty spaces. While waiting for your elevator to come up from the first to the third floor, I have already written an article! (Laughs).

Word Meaning: Philosophical – relating or devoted to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. Pursue – follow Ethical – relating to moral principles Eliminate – remove Fist – a person’s hand when the fingers are bent in towards the palm and held there tightly, typically in order to strike a blow or grasp something. Interstices – space, gap Elevator – a lift

Explanation of the Above Passage – He found it difficult to put it into words but began by saying that he had specific philosophical interests that he continually sought to pursue through his academic works and novels. Talking about his books for children, they all talked about non-violence and peace, which were again based on ethics. Then, he talked about his secret – that he worked in empty spaces of time. He called them interstices. According to him, these empty spaces were very crucial. If you removed the empty spaces from the atoms or from the universe, the universe would be very compact, just as big as his fist. So, if he was expecting someone over, that is, someone was coming to his house and the guest took the elevator from the ground floor to his flat on the third floor, as Umberto waited for the guest – that time was an interstice and he used that interstice to write an article. That is how he worked in such empty spaces of time which many people waste by sitting idle and waiting!

Passage – Mukund: Not everyone can do that of course. Your non-fictional writing, your scholarly work has a certain playful and personal quality about it. It is a marked departure from a regular academic style — which is invariably depersonalised and often dry and boring. Have you consciously adopted an informal approach or is it something that just came naturally to you?

Explanation of the Above Passage Mukund mentioned that what he did was undoubtedly unique. His scholarly articles were very different from the usual academic style. The usual academic style lacked personal touch and was dry and boring. On the other hand, Umberto’s writings had a certain playful and personal touch. He asked Eco that did he intentionally adopt an informal way of writing or was he being natural.

Passage – Umberto Eco: When I presented my first Doctoral dissertation in Italy, one of the Professors said, “Scholars learn a lot of a certain subject, then they make a lot of false hypotheses, then they correct them and at the end, they put the conclusions. You, on the contrary, told the story of your research. Even including your trials and errors.” At the same time, he recognised I was right and went on to publish my dissertation as a book, which meant he appreciated it. At that point, at the age of 22, I understood scholarly books should be written the way I had done — by telling the story of the research. This is why my essays always have a narrative aspect. And this is why probably I started writing narratives [novels] so late — at the age of 50, more or less. I remember that my dear friend Roland Barthes was always frustrated that he was an essayist and not a novelist. He wanted to do creative writing one day or another but he died before he could do so. I never felt this kind of frustration. I started writing novels by accident. I had nothing to do one day and so I started. Novels probably satisfied my taste for narration.

Word Meaning: Dissertation – a long essay on a particular subject, especially one written for a university degree or diploma Hypotheses – theory Frustration – the feeling of being upset or annoyed as a result of being unable to change or achieve something Narration – the action or process of narrating a story

Explanation of the Above Passage – Umberto narrated his story from his time in Italy where a Professor told that his thesis was way different from others. He told his story including the trials and errors that happened during his research. Others, on the other hand made false assumptions, corrected them, and put conclusions. This was the reason why the professor even published his thesis as a book. At the age of 22, he realized that his way of writing was the correct way and that is why his essays were always in a narrative tone. Probably, this was also the reason why he started writing novels at the age of 50. On the contrary, his friend Roland Barthes always wanted to be a novelist along with an essayist.

Unfortunately, he died before he could do it. While for Eco, it happened by accident but novel writing satisfied his hunger for narration.

Passage – Mukund: Talking about novels, from being a famous academic you went on to becoming spectacularly famous after the publication of The Name of the Rose. You’ve written five novels against many more scholarly works of non-fiction, at least more than 20 of them.

Explanation of the Above Passage – Pointing out his novels, Mukund mentioned that he became astoundingly famous after the publication of The Name of the Rose. From a famous academic, he went on to become a famous novelist though he had written many more scholarly works (20) than novels (5).

Passage -Umberto Eco: Over 40. Explanation of the Above Passage – Umberto Eco corrected that he had written over 40 non-fiction pieces.

Passage – Mukund: Over 40! Among them a seminal piece of work on semiotics. But ask most people about Umberto Eco and they will say, “Oh, he’s the novelist.” Does that bother you?

Word Meaning: Seminal- influential

Explanation of the Above Passage – Amazed at hearing about Eco’s over 40 scholarly articles, one of which was on the study of signs (semiotics), he asked if he was at all bothered when people remembered him as the famous novelist.

Passage – Umberto Eco: Yes. Because I consider myself a university professor who writes novels on Sundays. It’s not a joke. I participate in academic conferences and not meetings of Pen Clubs and writers. I identify myself with the academic community. But okay, if they [most people] have read only the novels… (laughs and shrugs). I know that by writing novels, I reach a larger audience. I cannot expect to have one million readers with stuff on semiotics.

Explanation of the Above Passage – Umberto Eco replied to Mukund by accepting that yes, it did bother him being identified as a novelist. Umberto, on the other hand, identified himself with the academic community because he considered himself a university professor who wrote novels only on Sundays. He also attended academic conferences as opposed to Pen clubs and writer’s meetings. But on the other hand, Eco accepted that he was well-aware that by writing novels, he was reaching a wider audience because one million people would not obviously be interested in stuff on semiotics.

Passage – Mukund: This brings me to my next question. The Name of the Rose is a very serious novel. It’s a detective yarn at one level but it also delves into metaphysics, theology, and medieval history. Yet it enjoyed a huge mass audience. Were you puzzled at all by this?

Explanation of the Above Passage – Mukund changed the topic and mentioned that The Name of the Rose was a very serious novel and still it managed to attract a large audience. It dealt with detective stuff and also metaphysics, theology and medieval history. He asked Umberto if he was at all surprised by his success.

Passage – Umberto Eco: No. Journalists are puzzled. And sometimes publishers. And this is because journalists and publishers believe that people like trash and don’t like difficult reading experiences. Consider there are six billion people on this planet. The Name of the Rose sold between 10 and 15 million copies. So in a way I reached only a small percentage of readers. But it is exactly these kinds of readers who don’t want easy experiences. Or at least don’t always want this. I myself, at 9 pm after dinner, watch television and want to see either ‘Miami Vice’ or ‘Emergency Room’. I enjoy it and I need it. But not all day.

Explanation of the Above Passage – Umberto replied that he was not at all surprised. The only people who were surprised were journalists and publishers. This was because it was commonly believed that people liked easy-reading experiences and trash while the truth was that through his novel, he reached that small percentage of the population who liked challenging reading experiences. He understood this because he himself yearned to watch shows like ‘Miami Vice’ or ‘Emergency Room’ after dinner but not all day long.

Passage – Mukund: Could the huge success of the novel have anything to do with the fact that it dealt with a period of medieval history that…

Explanation of the Above Passage – He asked Umberto about the possibility of success of the novel having to do something with its association with medieval history.

Passage – Umberto Eco: That’s possible. But let me tell you another story, because I often tell stories like a Chinese wise man. My American publisher said while she loved my book, she didn’t expect to sell more than 3,000 copies in a country where nobody has seen a cathedral or studies Latin. So I was given an advance for 3,000 copies, but in the end it sold two or three million in the U.S. A lot of books have been written about the medieval past far before mine. I think the success of the book is a mystery. Nobody can predict it. I think if I had written The Name of the Rose ten years earlier or ten years later, it wouldn’t have been the same. Why it worked at that time is a mystery.

Explanation of the Above Passage – Umberto did not negate the possibility as he began to tell a story, which he thought that he did like a Chinese wise old man. He mentioned that his American publisher expected not to sell more than 3,000 copies as in a country like hers, no one had ever seen a cathedral or studied Latin language. To their surprise, they ended up selling around two or three million copies. Umberto considered the success of his book a mystery. Had it been written ten years earlier or later, the situation would have been different.

The Interview Question and Answers

1. How does Eco find the time to write so much?

A. Eco is a university professor who attends academic conferences all week. He finds so much time to write in the empty spaces that we all have in our lives, just like the structure of atoms and Universe. He terms these empty spaces as ‘interstices’. If he is waiting for someone coming to his house via the escalator, he would use that time to write an essay rather than sit idle. Therefore, he considers himself a scholar who writes novels on Sundays.

2. What was distinctive about Eco’s academic writing style?

A. Generally, academic scholars write false hypothesis, rectify them and then give conclusions. On the other hand, Umberto takes the readers through the journey of his research, quoting all the trials and errors to reach the conclusion. His narrative style of writing made him distinctive.

3. Did Umberto Eco consider himself a novelist first or an academic scholar?

A. Umberto Eco identifies himself with the academic community. According to him, he is a university professor who attends academic conferences all week and writes novels on Sundays.

. What is the reason for the huge success of the novel, The Name of the Rose?

A. The novel, The Name of the Rose is a hard-read, differentiating it from other novels. It is a detective narrative that contains metaphysics, theology and medieval history. Thus, it targeted the audience that is not interested in an easy reading experience, probably not all the time. However, the success of the novel still remains a mystery. According to Umberto, had the novel been written ten years earlier or later, it would have not attracted the same proportion of the audience.

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