Contestation of English and Arabic in the Building of Pesantren Culture in Indonesia

Authors: Salimah Salimah (Universitas Airlangga, Indonesia)
Speakers: Salimah Salimah
Strand: Language, Community, Ethnicity
Session Type: General Session


Pesantren is defined as a traditional Islamic institution in which students or santri live in boarding houses that is led by a Kyai which is commonly the owner, the leader, as well as the religious expert in a pesantren. Pesantren normally becomes the centre of Islamic religious teaching to young generations including the teaching of Arabic language. Nevertheless, the dominance of Arabic language in pesantren has been decreasing since English language was introduced as another foreign language in this institution. This new foreign language has occupied several domains in pesantren such as education, social, and culture. This study aims at investigating how English has contested against the status quo of Arabic and how people in pesantren restructure the development of their culture with the existence of English. The study employed ethnographic method applied in the fieldwork in traditional pesantrens in Bungah community. Analysis on the data was conducted using the concept of sociolinguistic studies for language learning. The results reveal that Arabic and English has been positioned at the same level of importance in many aspects of pesantren lifes. People in pesantren have been developing an awareness of significantly connecting themselves to a broader global context. The people in pesantrens of Bungah community have now adjusting their lifestyle and cultural behaviour toward the implementation of English in their curriculum.

Keywords: Arabic language, English language, Language dominance, Pesantren, Culture, Language learning.