Indonesia Research Update #10: Cultural Representation in an English Textbook by Soni Ariawan


A nation’s cultural representation in an English textbook is vital to help student understand the learning content contextually.

Motivated to improve knowledge on this issue, Soni Ariawan, founder of Gelora Education Centre in Lombok, Indonesia whom also a Master of Education student in The University of Adelaide, conducted a research specifically in Indonesia context.

His study investigates cultural representation in an English textbook prescribed for senior high school in Indonesia which is officially published by Ministry of Education and Culture in 2017.

The research aims to explore cultural dimensions and cultural categories revealed in the textbook by employing Byram’s checklist of cultural dimensions and Cortazzi and Jin’s categories of culture as the theoretical frameworks.

The data for analysis is selected from the textbook which includes conversations, reading texts and visual elements. The findings show that stereotypes and national identity dominate the cultural dimensions with 28.05% of the total dimensions.

The indications are disseminated in various forms including artefacts, popular people and popular places. The inclusion of national identity is pivotal for learners since the textbook is prescribed for senior high school students who are tremendously curious to determine their own characters.

Hence, presenting popular people who have many achievements or have made many contributions might be useful for them and may give them good role models. This idea is also aligned with the main aim of 2013 curriculum to facilitate the development of students with good character, good behaviour and strong nationality.

Regarding cultural categories, source culture or Indonesian culture is the most prominent with 61.2%, while target culture and international target culture achieve 19.8% and 14.9% respectively.

The presence of source culture encompasses social interaction, school and family environment, national identity and national history as well as national geography. Where the target culture is concerned, the United States of America is the most highly represented inner circle country’s culture in the textbook, while India and Japan are the countries primarily represented in the international target culture category.

It is concluded that English textbook in Indonesia is on the way to its perfection in terms of proportionally represented cultural aspects. However, the presence of various cultural aspects of source culture, target culture and international target culture is also important to help students develop multicultural awareness and a certain level of respects as well as tolerance for others.

More information could be accessed by contacting Soni in


Soni Ariawan is a postgraduate student in Master of Education program, the University of Adelaide, with support of scholarship from Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education (LPDP)

He is the founder of Gelora Education Centre which is a language and education center to develop children quality in reading, language skill and reading to be the better generation.


Indonesia Research Update is an initiative by GoLive Indonesia that aims to promote and disseminate knowledge and information obtained through research completed by Indonesian students outside of Indonesia.

We sincerely thank Soni and wish the best for his future endeavours in career and life.


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