Abellia before going deeper. In language acquisition, many studies


Abellia Ike Prastiwi

Ella Timortiningsih

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English in EFL country always requires teachers to provide a certain
methodology to make sure that every students will achieve an improvement after
during their learning English process. However, EFL students have their own
characteristic, especially in the process of acquiring language since we know
that English is not their daily conversation language. Some experts have
proposed theories regarding acquitisition process, one of them is Socio
Cultural theory by Vygotsky. Vygotsky claims that students’ social environment
and students’ interaction process takes important place in someone’s
acquisition process. This paper criticize the theory to find out the
implication of this theory on EFL teaching in Indonesia. The writers found that
there is an implication between those two variabels. It can be said that the
theory fit to EFL context and the theory can be consider in order to improve
the quality of EFL teaching.

; teaching, EFL,acquisition,socio cultural.



English in
Indonesia has been a crucial aspect in education.
Considering English is a foreign language in Indonesia, the ministry of
education has made many efforts regarding this fact. The efforts mainly aims to
make students who learn English in their school can easily absorb the knowledge
and later can practice it.  But this goal
seems hasn’t accomplished yet since the newest fact which comes from ” English
Proficiency Index ” ( EF EPI ) survey found that Indonesia is in the 32nd
place among 90 countries in terms of the English proficiency (
the survey includes students in junior and senior high school ). This fact
shows there is something wrong, whether in teaching and learning process or in
the acquisition process of the students.

this paper, the writers will focus on the acquisition process of students in
junior high school. Since English in Indonesia is considered
as foreign language, students in Indonesia 
mainly acquire only their mother tongue and their national language. The
acquisition process of English only occur when they have English subject in the
class or
in their English course outside school. This acquisition process must be given
a special concern besides the way of teaching, because they have to be able to
acquire the language first before going deeper. In language acquisition, many
studies have been conducted trying to analyze and explain how second language
acquisition works. On the early era, behaviorist theory which proposed by
Skinner was dominant, this theory believe in the role of environment, imitation
and reinforcement, which means students learn language through the result of
conditioned stimulus-response. In opposition to Skinner’s theory, Chomsky
propose an idea which is nativist theory or known as cognitive theory that
focuses in human mind and cognitive process as they key of language
acquisition. This theory believes that all human have language acquisition
device (LAD), an innate system for acquiring language. The 2 different theories
has some important point to be concluded for the better analysis of second
language acquisition (SLA) theory. On the 19th century, there is a
theory that comes from the advantages of the 2 theories that were conducted
before, the theory that revealed new insight in the process of acquiring second
language through the fact that this theory combine both innate and
environmental factors in second language acquisition process. Vygotsky believe
that acquiring language not only as a matter of syntactic structures but also a
matter of discourse. The latest theory which proposed by Vygotsky will be
discussed deeper to find out the implication and the relevance with teaching
English as foreign language in Indonesia.



English as Foreign Language
in Indonesia

Basically, people
learn English as foreign language is for two purposes, which are instrumental
purposes and operational purposes. For example people learn English as a
foreign language either to visit England, to communicate with native speaker,
or to read something which is written in English. According to Broughton,
Brumfit, Flavell, Hill, & Pincas (2003) unlike English as a second
language, EFL is only taught in schools; it has no relationship with social
life of the learner. Savignon (2007) argues, whether English considered as a
first language, second language or even foreign language, all of them requires
a different way of teaching English. Despite those teaching methodology used in
English classes and the wide range of education field, all those basic teaching
principles are commonly derived from the fact that is happening in the field
which is the interaction of aspects that give a contribution
in EFL (Broughton et al., 2003).

Indonesia, clearly  English is considered
as a foreign language which means that mostly Indonesian only dealing with
English only in their school spesifically in their English class not in their
social life. Most of the students receive lack of input. However, school life
is not all students always dealing with, their ‘outside school’ life is
something that very considerable in their language acquisition process.
Indonesia always known by its diversity, every aspects is vary such as
religion,ethnics, social stages and so on. Commonly, both inside and outside
school do not require the students to speak English. Almost all students or
even almost Indonesian do not speak English as their daily conversation , they
only consider English as an international language.


Learning English as
Foreign Language

            Students in Indonesia find difficulties
and take a very long time to acquire English because they don’t make using the
language a habit. In fact language competence is attained from habit formation.
According to Panggabean (2007), when a
native speaker acquires his language, he keeps learning the language by thinking, listening, and speaking
using it. He
is learning, meaning he learns and uses the
language continuously. Indonesian students learn
English by spending very little time using and thinking
in English. They are dependent on classroom learning activities that may occur twice
a week. In the classroom, the teacher will be teaching
in traditional method may not involve them profoundly. This means that the
actual time spent in one week is only between two or three
hours. Regardless of how many years they have been learning English
in this circumstance, the fact is they learn it in weeks instead of years. In language
acquisition process, learning in weeks results in very little achievement.

As we know
that English in Indonesia is considered as foreign language. Yet, the goverment
of Indonesia make English as one of the subjects to be learned in school to
help the students acquire English in formal way. For the new curriculum, K13 in
junior high school, English is taught for 4×40 minutes a week for one class.

            The students get the
chance to study English in classroom based on syllabus given by the goverment.
While in the classroom, they only get what the teacher deliver. Actually the students
can improve their English if the have big motivation and supporting
circumstances besides what they get in the school.        


The Basic
Concepts in Sociocultural Theory

theory provide the fundamental aspects, which is that the human mind is
mediated. Lantolf
( 2000 ) . It
is claimed by Lantolf , that Vygotsky propose a fundamental role that is called
‘tools’ in humans in understanding themselves and also the world human act in
direct by the support of their intermediart tools.  Whether symbolic or signs  tools according to Vygotsky are artefacts which
is created by humans affecting by their
historical aspects and their cultural
specific it also
affected by their characteristic of the culture about the
tools that they used as aids in solving problems
that cannot be solved in the same way in their absence. In turn, they also
exert an influence on the individuals who use them in that they give rise to
previously unknown activities and previously unknown ways of conceptualising
phenomena in the world. Vygotsky states the importance of psychologist who must
take role in human social and mental activity, its is important because we need
to understand how those aspect organized through culturally constructed

to Vygotsky in Lantolf (2000) a variety of tasks and demands
can be provided by socio culturar environment it also engages
the child in his world through the tools. In the earlier, Vygotsky assume that
children is completely dependant to others, usually a parents. It can be said
that way because  parents can initiate
the child’s action, giving them instruction of what they hae to do, how they do
it, and also what they are not allowed to do. Parents, is the representative of
the culture in terms of the delivery of a certain language since the
instruction is primalily delivered using a language. On
the question of how do children then appropriate these cultural and social
heritages, Vygotsky claims that the child acquires knowledge through contacts
and interactions with people as the first step  then later assimilates and internalises this
knowledge adding his personal value to it (intrapsychological plane).

transition from social to personal property according to Vygotsky is not a mere
copy, but a transformation of what had been learnt through interaction, into
personal values. Vygotsky claims that this is what also happens in schools.  In the school , not all of the teachers’
capability being copied by the students, they rather transform what is offered
by the teachers during hteir appropriation process. Vygotsky in Lantolf (2002)
argues that the field of psychology has deprived itself of crucial information
to the understanding of complex aspects of human behaviour by refusing to study
consciousness. According to Vygotsky, 
the refusal has a psychology role which is restricted to just the explanation
of the most elementary connections between a living being and the world.
Vygotsky also view consciussness as distinguishing human behavior from other
living being, and also connect one’s knowledge to their behavior. Those belief
arises function in order to develop people’s interaction with reality on
socio-historical practices. Vygotsky insists that socially meaningful activity
should be considered for the explanatory principle in ordert to understand the
the consciussnees of a behavior.


The Zone of
Proximal Development (ZPD)

(2002) and Shayer (2002) claim that because of Vygotsky’s satisfaction about the
assessment of a child’s intellectual abilities and the the evaluation of the
instructional practices, Vygotsky then introduce the notion of ZPD ( Zone of
Proximal Development ) . Vygotsky claims that the established techniques of
testing only determine the actual studens’ development level, but do not
measure the potential ability of the students. Vygotsky also views that psychology
should address the terms a child’s future growth’ prediction. “what he/she not
yet is”. Because of the value issuen that Vygotsky proposed about predicting
child’s future capabilities, Vygotksy proposes the concept of ZPD which he
defines as “the distance between a child’s actual developmental level as
determined by independent problem solving, and the higher level of potential development
as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration
with more capable peers. ZPD helps in determining a child’s
mental functions that have not yet matured but are in the process of
maturation, functions that are currently in an embryonic state, but will mature
tomorrow. Except that notion, Vygotsky also claims that ZPD study is important
since it is the dynamic region on sensitivity in which the transition form
inter psychologival functioning takes place.



to Donato (1994) scaffolding is a concept that derives from cognitive psychology
and L1 research. It states that in a social interaction, a knowledgeable speakers
can create by means of speech and supportive conditions. It means that  the student can participate in and extend
current skills and knowledge in a higher competence level. In an educational
context, however, scaffolding is an instructional structure whereby the teacher
models the desired learning strategy or task then gradually shifts responsibility
to the students. According to McKenzie (1999) scaffolding provides the following

a) It provides
clear directions for students

b) It clarifies
purpose of the task

c) It keeps
students on task

d) It offers
assessment to clarify expectations

e) It points
students to worthy sources

f) It reduces
uncertainty, surprise and disappointment

g) It delivers

h) It creates



traces of Vygotsky’s ideas of sociocultural can be seen in
the process approaches, which appeared as a reaction against the dominant product
approaches in the 1960s and 1970s. The product approaches are grounded on
behaviourist principles and relate language teaching to linguistic form,
discrete linguistics skills and habit formation. They claim that language consists
of parts, which should be learned and mastered separately in a graded manner.
The learners’
role is to receive and follow the teacher’s instructions; an example of these
approaches is the audio-lingual approach. However, process approaches came up with
views emphasising the cognitive aspect of learning and acknowledge the contributions
that the learner brings to the learning context. Here, the example on social uses of language according to context if we look out Vygotsky’s ideas of the role of language
as a social tool for communication. The issue of internalisation is crucial in
Vygotsky’s theory as well as in L2 classrooms. Vygotsky encourages teachers not
to concentrate too much on teaching concrete facts but to also push their
students into an abstract world as a means to assisting them to develop
multiple skills that will enable them to deal with complex learning tasks. For case i 
Indonesia, teachers in school will teach in the classroom using syllabus
given by the goverment as the guidelines. They will deliver the material  according to KI-KD which is it only cover
limited field of the study.

teaching of literature is believed to enrich students’ vocabularies and support
the development of their critical thinking, thus moving them away from the
parrot-like types of learning, instead focussing on language structure into
abstract thinking, whereby students can have personal appreciation of the
language, consequently developing a selfmotivated attitude to learning the
language. But in Indonesia, there is no vocabularies study in the
classroom. We only get to learn vocabularies through another material. For
example, the students will get new vocabularies when they study about short
functional text. The students with less vocabularies will gradually lost
interest in studying English further more. Lack of motivation experienced by some
L2 students could be partly attributed to over-emphasis on teaching language
structure which is ineffective in setting to motion students’ intellectual

Vygotsky’s idea of sociocultural in acquire language, it is not really suitable
for used in Indonesia. There is an assumption about the use of English as
everyday communication by just several people. Vygotsky explain that language
can be acquired by the students’ interaction. But here in Indonesia, the
students’ interaction is still lacking. Also the use of English is limited in
school. Yet, for some area in Indonesia like in the big cities (Jakarta and
Bandung), students might have a good interaction with others. They can use English
in daily life because of the community the lived give big support.



            Based on the writers
opinion about Vygotsky theory on sociocultural, it is suitable for EFL learning
in Indonesia. But we can not take aside some factors that may obstruct the
acquiring process of EFL learning. Students may get English as a subject in
school. They have interaction with the teacher and other students to practice
English, but again some of them may only use English in school and not their
daily communication outside the school.



Broughton, Brumfit, Flavell,
Hill, & Pincas. 2003. Teaching English as a Foreign Language Second
Edition. Taylor & Francis e-Library.

Donato, R., 1994. Collective scaffolding in second
language learning. In: Lantolf, J. P., ed. Vygotskian approaches to
second language research. London: Ablex Publishing


Lantolf, J. P.
(2000). Sociocultural theory and second language learning. Oxford:
Oxford University Press.

Mckenzie, J., 1999. Scaffolding for Success. 9 (4).

Shayer, M., 2002. Not just Piaget, not just Vygotsky, and
certainly not Vygotsky as an alternative to Piaget. In: Shayer, M., ed. Learning
intelligence, cognitive acceleration across the curriculum from 5 to 15
years. UK: Open University Press







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