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ELT materials adaptation for multiethnic classrooms: a case study of tertiary education in Manado, Indonesia
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posted on 21.02.2017by Warouw, Maya Pinkan
This study investigates how a group of Indonesian lecturers of English at the Universitas Sumikola in Manado perceived and adapted the content of English Language Teaching (ELT) materials and how their students’ ethnic backgrounds and the lecturers’ ethnicity-based teaching styles, preferences, professional experiences, qualifications and job circumstances influenced such practices. This research attempts to establish an understanding of the relationships among teachers’ pedagogy in the selection and adaptation of materials, the ethnic diversity of learners of English and the content of teaching materials. To achieve this aim, the study poses the following research questions:
1. What do teachers know about students’ backgrounds and needs and what role does this knowledge play in the adaptation process?
2. What expectations do teachers develop towards students that seem to influence their adaptation practices?
3. What teacher factors influence ELT materials adaptation in the classroom and how are these factors negotiated in light of students’ needs in relation to their ethnic backgrounds?
4. How do teachers bridge the gap between the existing materials and students’ ethnic cultural background through their everyday teaching practices?
In addressing these questions, the case study, which is qualitative and constructive, draws on concepts of materials adaptation highlighted by a host of researchers in the field of materials development, such as Tomlinson and Masuhara (2004), McDonough and Shaw (1993), McGrath (2002), and Richards (2007), who have pointed out the importance of considering students’ backgrounds and needs in their choice of teaching materials. In particular, Gray (2000), Hill (2005), Bao (2003), Zakaria and Hashim (2010) believe that the appropriateness of course materials can be promoted through the inclusion of relevant cultural topics.
The data were collected from English lecturers with Minahasan ethnic backgrounds but with a variety of professional and academic qualifications, who taught in Universitas Sumikola. Through observations in their classrooms, semi-structured interview sessions with them, and supporting materials evaluations conducted by them, the teaching materials adaptation practices in their multiethnic classroom settings were examined.
The findings elucidate lecturers’ practical understandings on teaching material selection and adaptation, which was constructed through the negotiation of lecturers’ factors, students’ ethnic backgrounds and sociocultural contents. A variety of teaching strategies were also applied to overcome the challenges which emerged in teaching and teaching materials adaptation. This negotiation is reflected in a new adaptation framework which illustrates the teachers’ optimised understandings of how students’ multiethnic backgrounds can be better acknowledged in English teaching practices.