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An Exploration of Teachers’ Beliefs on the Integration of Culture in Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Junior High Schools in Minahasa/Indonesia

Mumu, Embly (2017) An Exploration of Teachers’ Beliefs on the Integration of Culture in Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Junior High Schools in Minahasa/Indonesia. Professional Doctorate thesis, Murdoch University.

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The place of culture has been recognised as crucial in the teaching and learning of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). However, researchers have found that EFL teachers are often confused, face difficulties and lack knowledge of the concept of culture and its pedagogical instruction (what and how to teach). Relatively little has been researched about the beliefs and practices of EFL teachers regarding this topic at beginner levels and in geographical contexts where English is “very foreign” (third or fourth language). This study explored Minahasan EFL junior high school teachers’ beliefs on the integration of culture in their teaching.

Five EFL teachers were involved and the study specifically employed three qualitative techniques for data collection: semi-structured interviews, class observations and stimulated-recalls interviews (based on past video recordings of practice). Consistent with extant research these EFL teachers held positive beliefs about the importance of culture in EFL teaching (Byram, 2013; Byram & Kramsch, 2008; Kramsch, 1993, 2006, 2013; Liddicoat, 2002, 2008, 2014). They understood culture as ‘a way of life’ (Brown, 2007) and believed that the teaching of culture was critical in developing successful communication skills and in building intercultural communication. Speech acts and small “c” cultures (Lee, 2009) mostly from American culture (US) were the focus of their teaching, accompanied with the use of a comparative method (Byram, Gribkova & Starkey, 2002). To some extent, constraints (limited exposure and knowledge of intercultural competence, materials, IT) and curriculum affected their beliefs and practices regarding teaching culture and language.

The perspectives of these EFL teachers from Minahasa/Indonesia provide useful insights for developing a base model for cultural instruction in junior high schools in Minahasa and similar education contexts. Further studies in intercultural competence and pragmatic instruction (speech acts) from a larger number of teachers, educators and learners’ perceptions will help to enhance the understanding and knowledge about teaching language and culture.

Item Type: Thesis (Professional Doctorate)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
United Nations SDGs: Goal 4: Quality Education
Supervisor(s): Pino-Pasternak, Deborah and Aveling, Nado
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