Collecting and Managing Interactional Data

Collecting Data

Camera/Phone Set-up

  • Check your settings on your camera and phone to see if there is a setting for quality. Set this for a relatively low quality so that the video takes up less memory.
  • Make sure to record and save to external storage (i.e. SD card) to save space. Videos saved to internal storage will take up space you may need for other things, and run the risk of stopping mid-recording.
  • Always check that the recording has started.
  • Avoid turning off the recording until after the interaction is truly finished. Often, the best/most interesting data happens after the assigned task has been completed.

Placement of Camera/Phone

  • If you have access to both a camera and phone, use the camera to record the video and the phone to record audio separately. If you only have access to one, it will be sufficient for both video and audio.
  • Place the camera/phone away from sound sources such as televisions or speakers. The microphones in these devices are designed to pick up the most prominent sound, and the talk may not be audible.
  • If it is possible, record in a relatively quiet environment.
  • If possible, use a tripod (such as an easily portable gorilla pod).
  • Try to make sure each participant is visible. In particular, avoid angles where the participants’ faces are not visible most of the time.


Managing Data

Saving the Data

  • Save in following format, with hyphens (-) separating each element:
    • Country:
      Argentina – A
      Spain – S
      France – F
      Germany – G
      Japan – J
      Korea – K
  • Last Name and First Initial
    example: Jane Smith → SmithJ
  • Date of recording: YYYYMMDD
    example: March 21st, 2018 → 20180321
  • Type of interaction
    Homestay – HS
    Language Partner – LP
    Service Encounter – SE
    Other – O

A recording done by Jane Smith with her host family in France on May 26th would look like this:


  • Transfer the data from your phone/camera to your computer or external storage (SD card, cloud drive, etc.) as soon as you can, and save according to the format described above. Always keep this copy for your records. You may erase the file from your phone/camera after you have confirmed the transfer in order to free up space.
  • Copy the file to the provided USB drive. It is safest to keep this copy as well.
  • Coordinate with your teacher on how best to give her a copy of the data. This will likely involve copying the data from your USB drive to your teacher’s computer/external drive. If you have reliable internet, you may be able to send the data, but this will likely take longer.
  • Remember to return the provided USB drive to your teacher on the last day of class.