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Since the relationship between language and culture cannot be separated one another, the involvement of cultural aspects is certainly influencing English language teaching in several contexts. As mentioned by Islam (2017), the contributive factors in teaching learning English classroom are sociocultural aspects such as teachers’ and students’ beliefs. Teachers’ beliefs in which directly or indirectly may drive their ways in delivering teaching materials, the use of teaching strategies, and how their interaction with students. Then, each student may have their own learning belief which generating the differences in their learning style. In Indonesia, there are several cultural issues emerge in the process of teaching-learning English. Zacharias (2003) conducted an investigation on thirteen English teachers’ belief toward the existence of English in Indonesia. The investigation shows that English teachers in Indonesia assume that English belongs to English-speaking countries. English is taught as an instrument to facilitate Indonesian students to face the globalization era. The perfect English skills only belong to native speakers. Furthermore, they believe that native speakers may compatible enough for teaching pronunciation and speaking in Indonesian classes. The findings indicate that Indonesian teachers have a less consideration in teaching English. Although Indonesia is non-native speaking country, students may have the equal opportunity to learn and practice English as fluent as students in native-speaking countries. Yet, English educators may struggle very hard in order to build a good English performance among Indonesian students. Indeed, a native speaker is needed in teaching learning English classroom. Students may have a chance in interacting with the native speaker directly. Then, students acquire various appropriate English expressions. As supported by Sahin (2005), students who are given an opportunity to interact with native speaker teacher of English show more enthusiastic to communicate in the target language properly. This case influences the improvement of their achievement in English lesson.
Marcellino (2008) observed six English classes of Indonesian senior high school. He found that in questioning students, Indonesian teachers utilize yes/no questions in which this kind of question did not encourage students to produce various language expression in responding their teachers’ question. Furthermore, conventional teaching technique is used instead of several technological teaching techniques. Another cultural issue comes from students’ behavior. Majority of Indonesian students are not participating well in the classroom. They rarely give feedback such as opinion, suggestion, and question toward teachers’ instruction. This kind of behavior may lead to the real teacher’s centered classroom in which students believe that teachers are the only one who has all the need information to learn. Yusny (2013) argued that Indonesian society assume that Arabic is the most needed foreign language to learn by Indonesian students because of the majority of Indonesian society is Muslim. Arabic may simplify students to learn Quran and other Islamic texts. Yet, Indonesian people cannot avoid the growth of the globalization era. Indonesian society has to be able to compete internationally in every aspect as well as in educational aspect. Therefore, the role of English in Indonesia is rather complicated. English is almost never been spoken among Indonesian people. However, English is one of the compulsory subjects to learn by Indonesian students starting from secondary school to university level. This phenomena portrays a crucial contradiction between belief and need among Indonesian societies.
Mahmud (2014) revealed several reasons of twelve Indonesian people concerning their low achievement in answering the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). First, they consider that they have a low basic skill of English. The respondents said that they are not able to even to speak English while they have to face the other complex English skills and components in TOEFL tests such as reading, listening, and grammar. Second, the respondents argue that they have not enough time for English exposure. The limited time in TOEFL course did not facilitate them to answer the test correctly. Third, lack of motivation among the respondents. It is showed that the students of TOEFL course are coming from every major. The idea comes from the Social science students who have no English background, it is stated that the aim of joining TOEFL course is to get the certificate as a formal requirement in finishing their study. Then, joining TOEFL course is not become a facilitator in enhancing their English competences. Fourth, the distinction among students such as age and social status. During TOEFL course, students are able to understand the material given by the tutor. They also remember some important material, be able to answer tutor’s question, and interact in English. Otherwise, when students do the TOEFL test, they cannot answer the question well because they assume that they are too old to remember all English materials that they have already learned. Furthermore, some of them notice themselves as an important person in the government who have a complicated job. Then, they assume that this factor may influence their memory about English materials that they have already understood while joining TOEFL course. All the reasons stated above can be claimed as the socio-cultural obstacle which has a big influence on Indonesian students’ English achievements. In addition, by the growth of teaching-learning English in Indonesia, Lie (2017) pointed out that there is a dilemma of attaining a good English proficiencies and preserving Indonesian culture. The Indonesian government has conducted several ways to support the teaching-learning English in Indonesia such as reconstructing the curriculum, inviting native speaker as English teacher, conducting bilingual school program, etc. At the same time, Indonesian are not ready enough to face the transformation of cultural identity. They assume that mastering English may cause the attrition of national language (Bahasa Indonesia) and local value among students. Hence, based on several studies above, it is clear enough to argue that the socio-cultural aspects highly inhibit the attainment of teaching-learning English in Indonesia.
Discussing about the connection between culture and teaching-learning English in Indonesian context, it is crucial to consider about Indonesian geographical condition which has a big impact on the cultural diversity among societies. Indonesia is the fourth largest population in the world, after China, USA, India, and Russia. It is about 255,153,932 Indonesian people officially recorded by Directorate General of Population and Civil Registry, Ministry of Home Affairs at the second half of 2014. Indonesia also recognized as the largest archipelago country in the world which has a multicultural society. According to Azzizah (2015), there are 300 ethnic groups along with 726 local languages exist and developed by the member of the group itself and some are adopted from Indian, Arabic, Chinese, and European. Otherwise, Bahasa Indonesia is the authorized language to unify numerous Indonesian societies which have the cultural background distinction. As stated by Lie (2007), there are four language classifications exist in Indonesia. They are regional language (Minangkabau, Javanese, Balinese, Toraja, etc.), national language (Bahasa Indonesia), variants of Indonesian (a mixture of Indonesian national and regional languages), and foreign language (English, German, Arabic, etc.). It indicates that Indonesia is rich of both large and small islands which have various cultural heritages, different behavior of each ethnic group, and multi-languages used. Indonesia is divided into two areas such as Western Indonesia and Eastern Indonesia. Western Indonesia is made up of Java, Bali, Sumatra, and Kalimantan. While Eastern Indonesia belongs to Sulawesi, Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, and Papua (Suryadharma, 2006). Furthermore, Western Indonesia is the urban area while Eastern Indonesia is the rural and remote areas (unreachable areas). The Educational inequality may found between urban and rural/remote areas of Indonesia. Urban people may have a convenient access in achieving a better educational quality in terms of the qualified teacher, learning facilities, and students’ learning motivation. On the contrary, Samosir (2008) pointed out that there are some educational shortcomings found in Indonesian rural and remote areas. Students in East Nusa Tenggara are dealing with the old school building, leakages roof, limited tables, and chairs. In several sub-districts of North Sulawesi and Papua, lack of teacher is the main problem to face. Then, the primary school students from different grades need to be merged into two or three classes. Although the government has already conducted decentralization since 2001, the problem has not overcome enough. Furthermore, it is even worse in remote areas. Although there are several adequate school building, it might not be the place to have a teaching-learning process because of there is no even one teacher to teach.
Rahmadi (2010) claimed that there is no access in terms of teachers’ professional development, low of teachers’ salary, and limited teaching-learning facilities are the educational obstacles faced by teachers and students in the rural area of Kalimantan. Obviously, students in rural and remote areas have no idea how to start learning something, what they have to learn, and they might not have experience in teaching learning atmosphere in terms of some steps that they have to pass in order to achieve a better future and competing in the growth of globalization era. Azzizah (2015) argued that another main problem in teaching learning process among teachers and students in several remote areas of Indonesia is the use of regional language. People in Papua, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara, and Sulawesi use their own regional language in their daily conversation. Students are challenging to understand the teaching material because of it is written in Bahasa Indonesia. This case may force teachers to translate the teaching material from Bahasa Indonesia into regional language or vice versa, in order to assist students’ comprehension of the teaching topic itself. This condition needs a lot of time and effort for teachers in simplifying the explanation and instruction during classroom activities. In addition, another study in the field of teaching-learning English comes from Pasassung (2003). The study conducted in one of the Indonesian remote areas, South Sulawesi. It is focused on the socio-cultural factors that may impact the teaching-learning English in this remote area. The finding shows that the societies argue that there is no reason in mastering English because it does not need in any kind of conversation among them. English is necessary for people who are dealing with the university and several international agencies. Most of the parents in the remote area of South Sulawesi stated that school is important for their children in terms of learning how to be able to read, write, and understand the basis of mathematics. Their children did not need to struggle and learn more about continuing their study in the higher level of education (university). Furthermore, most of the young people prefer to earn money by planting cacao, or pepper, collecting sand in the river or joining their parents working as fishermen instead of attending school and gain some valuable knowledge for their future.
The description above shows how financial factor influences remote societies’ perspective toward the importance of education and the role of teaching-learning English in Indonesia. Obviously, more studies conducted for teaching learning English in some other remote areas of Indonesia is certainly needed in order to find out a deep understanding of the crucial shortcomings that should be covered seriously. Thus, this study is eager to investigate the socio-cultural challenges of teaching-learning English in Indonesian remote area. The study will be conducted in Flores Island (East Nusa Tenggara). This location claimed as a remote area because it is one of the Indonesian government target locations in conducting the SM3T program. SM3T stands for “Sarjana mengajar di daerah terdepan, terluar dan tertinggal” which is translated into English “Bachelors graduates teaching in the frontier, outlying and underdeveloped regions”. It is a program from Indonesian Ministry of Education which aims to build up a better educational quality and overcome the limited teachers in Indonesian remote areas.

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