Research project on LINGUA interviews: proceedings and results

Dr. phil. Olaf Behrend (University of Siegen, Germany), Liliane Meyer (LINGUA, Switzerland)

LINGUA is the scientific unit within the Swiss Federal Office for Migration in charge of producing linguistic analyses for those asylum seekers and other foreigners whose allegations concerning their origin are doubtful. LINGUA has developed its specific procedure in order to obtain the necessary data for the analyses by letting the experts (or trained interviewers) lead interviews themselves with the above mentioned persons. Based on the analysis of the recording of these interviews, the experts edit a scientific report in which they outline the knowledge the interviewed subject has displayed about his/her country of origin, as well as the linguistic traits that characterize his/her speech.

This interview is therefore of capital importance because it constitutes the corpus which enables to carry out a thorough analysis and, thus, to edit a reliable report. Although much research on interview techniques has been done, up to now none of it has focused on the particular kind of interaction taking place in interviews serving as a basis for linguistic analysis of origin.

This is why LINGUA launched a research project with the precise purpose of achieving a better understanding of the LINGUA interview process, the goal being the enhancement of the quality of the interviews (and therefore of the scientific reports based on these interviews). This implies changes of established procedures where necessary as well as the improvement of the interview training offered to experts/interviewers.

The research has been conducted by an independent research team with the support of LINGUA. In this paper, we aim to present our views of the project idea and its development, to give an overview of the research methods and procedures employed, and to share the outcome of this project with a wider audience. Finally, we also want to project the practical consequences this research will have on the daily work within LINGUA.

Letzte Änderung 24.11.2009

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