Off-campus UMass Amherst users: To download dissertations, please use the following link to log into our proxy server with your UMass Amherst user name and password.

Non-UMass Amherst users, please click the view more button below to purchase a copy of this dissertation from Proquest.

(Some titles may also be available free of charge in our Open Access Dissertation Collection, so please check there first.)

Directions for reform: Perceptions of Indonesian students towards English language curricula

Jeanne Yanita Martani, University of Massachusetts Amherst


In Indonesia, the existence of a national curriculum tends to impose standardization on all levels of formal education, including higher education. The standards anchored in the curriculum are linked to academic needs of children and adults. Private universities in this developing country seem to serve a more diverse student population than their government counterparts, however, they seem to have less flexibility in developing curricula. The present study sets directions for private universities to improve their English language curricula. Students' perceptions about their experience in English language programs serve as guidelines for curriculum improvement. The English language programs in three private universities in Jakarta, Indonesia are selected as the research sites. Three major research questions guided the study: What do the students report as reasons for wanting to learn English? What are strengths and weaknesses of the English language curricula as perceived by the students in three selected institutions of higher education in Jakarta? What directions for improving their English language curriculum do the students recommend? Fifty-eight enrolled students and fourteen recent graduates from three institutions of higher education participated in this study. Data were mainly obtained through open-ended survey questionnaires. The findings revealed that motivations for learning English may be categorized into four variables: Language Competency, Employment Opportunity, Personal Knowledge, and Cultural Communication. The reasons provided by the 58 students currently enrolled are distributed as 38% Language Competency, 32% Employment Opportunity, 19% Personal Knowledge, and 11% Cultural Communication. As for the graduates of the program in English language and literature, 36% were motivated by the need to improve their Language Competency, 36% by the wish to increase their Personal Knowledge, and 29% by the goal of improving Employment Opportunity. Strengths and weaknesses of the English language curriculum centered on subject matter and other components of curriculum such as faculty, teaching methods, evaluation procedures, as well as learning facilities and equipment. Considered to be strengths across institutions were the improvement of skills in reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Increased knowledge about culture and literature, along with helpful faculty members and methods that encouraged student participation in learning were also rated as strengths. Weaknesses included insufficient time for practicing speaking English in class and inadequate amount of composition and translation assignments, as well as uninteresting textual materials for some of the Linguistics courses. Other weaknesses included too much lecturing as teaching method, teacher-oriented approach, and inadequate book collections in school libraries. Recommendations for curriculum improvement included requests for more academically competent faculty, preferred methods of teaching that encouraged participation, and enlargement of library book collections. Administrators are also reminded to inform students of any significant academic changes that could affect their academic studies or completion of their degree. This study indicates that Indonesian students, despite their seemingly submissive demeanor, have very clear ideas of their motivations for pursuing their education in English language. Also these students point out strengths and shortcomings of the language program, together with suggestions for improvements that are likely to increase productive learning. It is the task of the institutions, administrators and faculty alike to utilize the students as a means for designing better curricula that will benefit both the learners and the institutions, instead of waiting for governmental directives.

Subject Area

Curricula|Teaching|Language arts

Recommended Citation

Martani, Jeanne Yanita, "Directions for reform: Perceptions of Indonesian students towards English language curricula" (1996). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9709625.