In many parts of the world, classrooms are characterised by cultural and ethnic diversity. Increasingly, researchers are interested in exploring these rich and socially complex contexts. However, research into 'the ethnic other' can present complex ethical and methodological challenges. In this paper, the authors discuss, with reference to their respective studies in Australia and Scotland, their mission to give voice and agency to research participants and develop research relationships that reduce the power imbalance between researcher and researched. They conclude by suggesting that critical ethnographic research methods can assist in alleviating some of the difficulties inherent in research conducted in contexts where researchers are cultural outsiders. The authors also argue the need for protocols to be developed for research into ethnic minority communities.