"If Our English Isn't a Language, What Is It?" Indonesian EFL Student Teachers' Challenges Speaking English

By Abrar, Mukhlash; Mukminin, Amirul et al. | The Qualitative Report, January 2018 | Go to article overview

"If Our English Isn't a Language, What Is It?" Indonesian EFL Student Teachers' Challenges Speaking English


Abrar, Mukhlash, Mukminin, Amirul, Habibi, Akhmad, Asyrafi, Fadhil, Makmur, Marzulina, Lenny, The Qualitative Report


Introduction

It is widely known that English is an international language since it has been largely spoken among foreign language speakers. Dewi (2015), Mukminin, Ali, and Ashari (2015), and Jackson and Stockwell (1996) asserted that English was used in every corner of the world as a medium to interact among people from different cultural, ethnic, and social backgrounds. Their findings indicate that the language, at present, is being articulated by not only native-speakers, but also non-native speakers. Aside from being the world language for international communication, English is used in foreign countries in major venues, like the news (Ammon, 2001; Seargeant & Erling, 2011).

In Indonesia, an incredibly diverse and multicultural country, English is regarded as one of the most popular foreign languages. The 1989 Law on the Indonesian educational system gives English a place as the first foreign language among other foreign languages used in Indonesia such as German, Arabic, or Japanese (Komaria, 1998). Its policy implication is that the language becomes one of the compulsory modules to be taught in secondary schools and tertiary education. In addition, English is offered as a programme study in higher education institutions in Indonesia, including in one public university in Jambi. In this setting, English is often used as the language of instruction. Despite having English instruction for many years, many learners are unable to communicate in the target language, particularly among the four language skills. One of the most challenging language skills for learners is speaking. One of the possible reasons is that speaking requires complex skills, not merely conveying ideas verbally. Shumin (2002) argued that speaking a foreign language requires high complex skills which go beyond the understanding of grammatical and semantic rules. However, although speaking is one of the most challenging skills, the existing literature indicates that there has been a lack of literature and information on EFL student teachers' experiences in speaking English in the context of Indonesia except for Mukminin, Masbirorotni, Noprival, Sutarno, Arif, and Maimunah (2015). For this reason, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to document Indonesian EFL student teachers' experiences in speaking English at one public university in Jambi, Indonesia. The following research questions guided this study in an attempt to document Indonesian EFL student teachers' experiences in speaking English: What do student teachers experience related to speaking English? And how do they deal with such experiences?

Literature Review

Speaking is an interactive process of meaning construction which includes receiving, processing, and producing information (Burns & Joyce, 1997). Moreover, Chaney and Burk (1998) argued that speaking was creating and conveying meaning using verbal or even nonverbal symbols in many varieties of context. These views highlight that speaking is not merely uttering words and sentences through the mouth, but it is more a matter of expressing or stating the message of communication through words and sentences. Speaking, for EFL learners, is one of the challenging language skills to master (Shumin, 2002) because it requires the speakers to have proper linguistic, sociolinguistic, and rhetorical competencies (Mukminin, Ali, & Ashari, 2015; Nunan & Bailey, 2009). Linguistic competence relates to the speakers' understanding of language proficiency, such as grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Sociolinguistic competence requires the speakers' ability to recognize the interpretation of meaning in different language contexts, and rhetorical competence entails the mastery of conveying relevant messages to achieve the purpose of speech. Additionally, Shumin (2002) ascertained that the speakers' capability to speak properly was a demanding factor in interaction. This indicates that language proficiency and appropriateness are the key points to be a good speaker. …

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