Investigating Intercultural Communication among Islamic Indonesian Tertiary English Foreign Language Educators

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Suyono, Suyono (2021) Investigating Intercultural Communication among Islamic Indonesian Tertiary English Foreign Language Educators. PhD thesis, Victoria University.


Communication across cultures often takes place within asymmetric power relations where knowing self and others is pivotal for advancing communication practices. When using English in an Islamic environment, Islamic Indonesian English foreign language (EFL) educators are underrepresented, and their minority status is even more evident when living in English speaking countries. While studies on underrepresented groups have been numerous, there is a paucity of studies on how Islamic Indonesian EFL educators engage in English where they are situated as co-cultural or minoritized group members. This study thus examines the English communicative practices adopted by the educators who have studied abroad, those who studied abroad and returned to Indonesia and those who have not experienced abroad. Drawing on Co-Cultural Theory (CCT) proposed by Orbe (1998) for its framework, this study examines communication practices adopted by the educators in communication within and beyond their group members. Grounded in the lived experiences of Islamic Indonesian EFL educators, this study works within a constructivist/interpretive world view, employing a qualitative narrative methodology for data collection. Participants provided written records of critical incidents, followed by interviews. The data were analysed and interpreted using co-cultural theory as the overall framework, with thematic analysis of narratives. The findings of the study reveal that all groups shared similar interplay of issues taken into consideration when engaging in intercultural communication, including experience, contexts, anticipation of cost and reward, communicative orientation, and the ability to carry out selected practices. Yet, due to their wider experience of interacting with English interlocutors, those who had overseas experience show a wider repertoire underpinning their practice selection, particularly around faith-embedded practices such as Christmas wishes, halal food, or hijab observance. This study also identifies the emergence of an Islamic frame of reference which is constantly attended to by all groups of EFL educators when scrutinizing co-cultural communication. The findings also show diverse communicative practices adopted by the educators in situations that signify asymmetric power relations, in line with other studies where assimilation, accommodation and separation strategies are adopted. Assimilation largely occurs in settings involving mundane matters, such as verbal greetings, wishes, and terms of address. Accommodation is achieved through negotiation, blending English and Islamic perspectives around expressions of future reference, verbal greetings, exchanges of compliments, and wishes. The separation orientation occurs around practices where negotiation is not seen as possible, including practices such as hugging in greetings ritual, hijab observance, and halal foods. This study also identifies the emergence of customization of practices adopted by the educators to address their interest. While this intercultural learning process is beneficial to shaping the individual identity of EFL educators in their communication practice, the process may also facilitate the shaping of professional attributes as EFL educators in Islamic institutions.

Item type Thesis (PhD thesis)
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3904 Specialist studies in education
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4701 Communication and media studies
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4702 Cultural studies
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords Islamic Indonesian EFL educators; teaching practice; co-cultural theory; intercultural communication; intercultural experiences; co-cultural communication
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