University of Tasmania

Negotiating the complexity of critical literacy in an Indonesian EFL Teacher Education Program

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posted on 2024-06-17, 05:10 authored by Nita NoviantiNita Novianti

Tension frequently emerges between critical literacy in theory and practice, including between researchers who are usually experts in theory and teachers who have first-hand experience in practicing it. This tension necessitates negotiation of their respective beliefs about critical literacy and the local contexts and realities where it is practiced. Yet within the under-researched area of critical literacy in EFL teacher education programs, how these negotiations are done is frequently glossed over. Drawing upon the concept of local negotiations (e.g., Comber & Simpson, 2001; Vasquez, 2004; Vasquez et al., 2013), this action research study sought to explore how critical literacy is negotiated in the local contexts of an EFL teacher education program in an Indonesian education university. A synthesis of the major frameworks commonly used to help translate critical literacy into classroom practices combined with a proposed conceptualisation of local negotiations was used as a conceptual and pedagogical framework and a tool of data analysis.
This study involved two teacher educators and their 35 pre-service English teachers in one of the largest education universities in Indonesia. The pre-service teachers were taking a course unit on Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL). Consequently, the action research study contributed to two areas under-explored within the literature of critical literacy in Indonesian EFL education, namely teacher education program and English for young learners. It primarily focused on the negotiation of critical literacy integration into the course unit of TEYL in the teacher education program, particularly in resolving the tension between the researcher and teacher educators as well as their local contexts and realities. The data for this research primarily included interviews and group discussion with teacher educators; course documents; pre-service teachers’ assignments on rewriting fairy tales, unit plans for English young learners, and reflective writing; and researcher’s journal.
Multiple local context and realities were identified to influence the negotiation of critical literacy into the course unit in the teacher education program. The local contexts and realities that afforded opportunities for critical literacy integration included: 1) the teacher educators’ advocacy for the story-based approach to teaching English to young learners, 2) the absence of an official curriculum for primary education, and 3) the teachers’ initial knowledge and experience of critical literacy. On the other hand, our respective beliefs about critical literacy and how it should be integrated into the classrooms of young English learners created tension that prompted further negotiations on the appropriate pedagogical framework and model for critical literacy in EFL classrooms. The negotiated framework and model subsequently informed the spaces negotiated for critical literacy in the course unit.
To find whether the spaces negotiated for critical literacy in the course unit helped develop the pre-service teachers’ knowledge base and understanding of critical literacy, I analysed their re-written fairy tale and reflective writings. The results indicated that the spaces were able to help the pre-service teachers develop some understanding of what critical literacy is and its pedagogy. The pre-service teachers subsequently negotiated spaces for critical literacy in their unit plans, comprising of teacher talks, probing questions, dialogues, and creative writing activities. Analysis of their unit plans showed that these spaces were at the initial level, with a large focus on applying the principle of text analysis and critique, reflecting their budding conceptualisation of critical literacy. The overall results of the study underscore the key role of negotiation in resolving tension between critical literacy in theory and practice, more specifically between what is expected by critical literacy researchers and how EFL teachers believe it should be integrated into their local contexts and realities. Negotiation allows EFL teachers to have their voice heard in finding ways to meaningfully integrate critical literacy into their own classroom teaching and learning.



  • PhD Thesis


xiii, 475 pages


School of Education


University of Tasmania

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