Learning the languages of technology: Multilingualism in Indonesian vocational secondary education

*Kristian Tamtomo  -  Department of Sociology, Universitas Atma Jaya Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Received: 14 Dec 2017; Published: 1 Feb 2018.
Open Access
Citation Format:
Article Info
Section: Articles
Language: EN
Statistics: 183 191

In Indonesia, we can consider vocational secondary education as being in the front lines of global contact, in which youth as students directly face the demands of globalized industries and labor markets. Within vocational high schools, the use of multiple languages often plays an important yet unrecognized part of vocational training. This paper will discuss, based on ethnographic data collected in 2013 from two vocational schools in Semarang, the way in which students use multiple languages, mainly English, Indonesian, and Javanese, as part of their process of learning vocational skills. The main argument of the paper is that vocational schools teach students a specific technical variety or register of language, which combines parts or sometimes fragments of multiple languages, often for the purpose of technical vocational competence and not necessarily for the development of linguistic competence. This results in a form of “segmented competence” (Blommaert and Omoniyi 2006). However, youth as students can use this technical register to not only localize global forms of technological practice in their learning processes but also to participate, albeit marginally, in the global or transnational technology-based communities of practice of their vocational program.

Keywords: multilingualism; globalization; youth; vocational high school

Article Metrics:

  1. Agha, Asif. 2004. “Registers of language.” In A. Duranti (ed.) A companion to linguistic anthropology. Pp. 23-45. Malden: Blackwell.
  2. Appadurai, Arjun. 1996. Modernity at large: Cultural dimensions of globalization. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  3. Bauman, Zygmunt. 1998. Globalization: The human consequences. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  4. Bernard, H. Russell. 2006. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches, 4th edition. Lanham: AltaMira Press.
  5. Blommaert, Jan. 2007. “Sociolinguistic scales.” Intercultural Pragmatics 4(1):1-19.
  6. Blommaert, Jan. 2010. The sociolinguistics of globalization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  7. Blommaert, Jan and Omoniyi, Topo. 2006. “Email fraud: Language, technology, and the indexicals of globalisation.” Social Semiotics 16(4):573-605.
  8. Blommaert, Jan and Dong, Jie. 2010. “Language and movement in space.” In N. Coupland (ed.), The handbook of language and globalization. Pp. 366-385. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
  9. Blommaert, Jan, L. Creve, E. Willaert. 2006. “On being declared illiterate: Language ideological disqualification in Dutch classes for immigrants in Belgium.” Language & Communication 26:34-54.
  10. Bucholtz, Mary. 2002. “Youth and cultural practice.” Annual Review of Anthropology 31:525-552.
  11. Bucholtz, Mary and Skapoulli, E. 2009. “Youth language at the intersection: From migration to globalization.” Pragmatics 19(1): 1-16.
  12. Coleman, H. 2011. “Allocating resources for English: The case of Indonesia's English medium international standard schools.” Paper 5 in Coleman, H. (ed.) Dreams and realities: Developing countries and the English language. London: British Council.
  13. Coulmas, Florian. 1992. Language and economy. Oxford: Blackwell.
  14. Coupland, Justine. 1996. “Dating advertisements: Discourses of the commodified self.” Discourse & Society 7:187–207.
  15. Coupland, Nikolas. 2003. “Introduction: Sociolinguistics and globalization.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 7(4):465-472.
  16. Coupland, Nikolas. 2010. “Introduction: Sociolinguistics in the global era.” In N. Coupland (ed.), The handbook of language and globalization. Pp. 1-27. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
  17. Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the late modern age. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
  18. Hall, Stuart. 1997. “The local and the global: Globalization and ethnicity.” In A. D. King (ed.), Culture, globalization and the world system. Pp. 19-40. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  19. Hannerz, Ulf. 2002. “Flows, boundaries and hybrids: Keywords in transnational anthropology.” Working Paper Series: Transnational Communities Programme. Oxford: Oxford University Press. http://www.transcomm.ox.ac.uk/working%20papers/hannerz.pdf (accessed 2 May 2017).
  20. Heller, Monica. 2003. “Globalization, the new economy, and the commodification of language and identity.” Journal of Sociolinguistics 7/4: 473-492.
  21. Heller, Monica. 2010. “Language as a resource in the globalized new economy.” In Nikolas Coupland (ed.), The handbook of language and globalization. Pp.350-365. Malden: Wiley-Blackwell.
  22. Kelly-Holmes, Helen. 2005. Advertising as multilingual communication. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  23. Luvaas, Brent. 2009. “Dislocating sounds: The deterritorialization of Indonesian indie pop.” Cultural Anthropology 24(2). 246-279.
  24. Marvasti, Amir. 2004. Qualitative research in sociology: An introduction. London: Sage.
  25. Meeuwis, Michael and Blommaert, Jan. 1998. “A monolectal view of code-switching: layered code-switching among Zairians in Belgium.” In P. Auer (ed.), Code-switching in conversation. Pp. 76-98. London: Routledge.
  26. Minza, Wenty. 2012. “Young migrants and education-to-work transitions in Pontianak, West Kalimantan.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 13(1):64-75.
  27. Naafs, Suzanne. 2012. “Navigating school to work transitions in an Indonesian industrial town: Young women in Cilegon.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 13(1):49-63.
  28. Naafs, Suzanne and White, Ben. 2012. “Intermediate generations: reflections on Indonesian youth studies.” The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 13(1):3-210.
  29. Newhouse, David and Suryadarma, Daniel. 2011. “The value of vocational education: High school type and labor market outcomes in Indonesia.” The World Bank Economic Review 25(2):296-322.
  30. Sebba, Mark. 2012. “Researching and Theorizing Multilingual Texts.” In M. Sebba, S. Mahootian, C. Jonsson (eds.), Language mixing and code-switching in writing: Approaches to mixed-language written discourse. Pp. 1-26. New York: Routledge.
  31. Smith-Hefner, Nancy. 2007. “Youth language, gaul sociability, and the new Indonesian middle class.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 17(2):184-203.
  32. Smith-Hefner, Nancy. 2009. “Language shift, gender, and ideologies of modernity in Central Java, Indonesia.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 19(1): 57-77.
  33. Sneddon, James. 2003. The Indonesian language: Its history and role in modern society. Sydney: University of New South Wales Press.
  34. Wallerstein, Immanuel. 2004. World-systems analysis: An introduction. Durham: Duke University Press.
  35. Wenger, Etienne. 1998. Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  36. Zentz, Lauren. 2014. “Love” the local, “use” the national, “study” the foreign: Shifting Javanese language ecologies in (post-)modernity, postcoloniality, and globalization.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 24(3). 339-359.