Symbolic capital and the problem of navigating English language teacher practice: the case of Indonesian pesantren




English language teaching (ELT), Indonesia, pesantren, teacher practice, symbolic capital


English is the most widely taught and learned language in the world. Within the broader literatures on the worldwide spread and dominance of English as a key skill for 21st century education, the use of English(es) and English Language Teaching (ELT) in the context of schooling in Asian countries represent an important research direction. Our paper contributes to these debates by exploring the problem of English language teachers’ beliefs about their pedagogical practices in Indonesian pesantren schools. The system of religious pesantren schools provides a unique research context to examine teacher practice in classrooms where English is not assigned the assumed de facto status of a ‘global lingua franca’. In engaging a Bourdieusian lens, this paper explores teachers’ perceptions of the (lack of) symbolic and linguistic capital of English language learning in pesantren, the emergent tensions, and how these frame teacher beliefs and practice. In so doing, this paper aims to contribute to the broader debates in the field that seek to critically analyse and reframe the hegemonic status of English as a global educational commodity of political-economic power.


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Author Biographies

  • Andrew Skourdoumbis, Deakin University, Australia

    Dr. Andrew Skourdoumbis is an Associate Professor in Education at Deakin University, Australia. His research engages with matters of curriculum theory encompassing policy analysis, teacher practice and educational performance. He investigates global reform efforts in education that impact teacher practice and the way that
    exacting statistical methods of research govern school education policy and teacher performance. Skourdoumbis is currently writing a book entitled The Epistemological Development of Education: Considering Bourdieu, Foucault and Dewey.

  • Ahmad Madkur, State Islamic Institute of Metro, Indonesia

    Ahmad Madkur is a PhD candidate in the School of Education at Deakin University Australia. His doctoral research investigates teacher beliefs of English language educators in Indonesian pesantren, and how their beliefs and institutional contexts shape their pedagogical practices. Madkur has extensive previous teaching experience as an English language teacher and curriculum leader in the pesantren education system. Madkur is currently a teaching staff in State Islamic Institute of Metro, Lampung, Indonesia.


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How to Cite

Symbolic capital and the problem of navigating English language teacher practice: the case of Indonesian pesantren. (2020). TESOL in Context, 29(2), 15-34.
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