The beliefs and practices of Indonesian high-school EFL teachers regarding the teaching and learning of culture and interculturality
This study examined the pedagogic beliefs and practices of Indonesian teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) regarding the teaching and learning of culture and interculturality in the local high-school English classrooms. I took an intercultural stance on language education and viewed language and culture as socially constructed practices that have fluid and negotiable boundaries and are interrelated in multiple and complex ways (Holliday, 2011, 2016; Kramsch, 1998; Liddicoat, 2002). An interculturally-oriented language education recognises an inextricable language-culture connection and links home with target language-and-cultures (Byram, 1997; Kramsch, 1993; Liddicoat & Scarino, 2013; Newton, Yates, Shearn, & Nowitzki, 2010). I conducted a qualitative case study to gain in-depth understandings of the phenomenon in question. I illuminate how the Indonesian EFL teachers addressed culture and interculturality in the EFL classrooms, what beliefs informed the teachers’ instructional judgement and decisions, and what immediate and wider contextual factors shaped their understandings and presentations of culture and interculturality in the classrooms. Five teachers working in general, vocational and Islamic high schools participated in this study. I made classroom observations, conducted stimulated recall and in-depth interviews, and administered narrative frames to glean the teachers’ insights. I also used document analysis and students’ focus group discussion to corroborate the teachers’ practices and illuminate the situatedness of Indonesia’s EFL pedagogy. Triangulations within the data set occurred throughout the iterative research process. In addition, I paid close attention to the sociolinguistic, cultural, educational, political and religious factors that were simultaneously at play and likely to impact on the teachers’ beliefs and practices. The cases of the EFL teachers reveal some significant evidence. First, the ways the teachers worked with culture and interculturality was to a certain extent influenced by Indonesia’s policies on language, general education, and EFL pedagogy. The policies and underlying ideology shaped the teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards English and the NSs of English as well as towards values and behaviours associated with Western culture. Second, the teachers’ conceptions of culture had an important bearing on how they represented culture in the classrooms. The teachers’ “large culture” (Holliday, 1999; Holliday, Hide, & Kullman, 2010) approach to culture and interculturality intersected with the expected role of the teachers and influenced their instructional decisions. Third, despite the hegemonic State policies, the fact remains that the teachers demonstrated an active agency in dealing with the complexities of culture and interculturality. A variety of linguistic, cultural and political factors present in the immediate classroom and school contexts as well as in the wider socio-educational setting contributed to their agency. The teachers negotiated and mediated between home and target language-and-cultures. Fourth, the paths of EFL pedagogy and Islamic worldview ineluctably cross in predominantly-Muslim Indonesia. Both the teachers and learners came to terms with sometimes conflicting cultural beliefs and behaviours embodied in English and perceived to be incompatible with–or even threatening to–cultural values, meanings, and practices ingrained in the local societies. In the light of the findings, I explore some wider pedagogic implications for various stakeholders in Indonesia’s educational setting in particular and in other similar EFL contexts. An intercultural EFL pedagogy could and ought to go beyond equipping learners with a mere English skill to providing them with opportunities to develop critical openness, informed understanding, and constructive engagement with the “foreign, culturally different others”.