Increasing English Language Learning Capacity in Indonesia
English Language Fellow Devon Jancin lives in Central Java, a traditional, densely populated, and predominantly Muslim part of Indonesia. There, Jancin is an instructor in the English Education Department at the Institut Agama Islam Negeri (IAIN) Salatiga , a state Islamic college. Jancin lives less than a mile from campus, and begins each weekday morning with a walk down a hill amid lush green rice paddies. As part of her primary fellowship duties, Jancin teaches four Speaking for Academic Purposes classes to 145 undergraduate students who are in the English teacher training department. In addition to teaching courses, Jancin started an English Club for professors interested in improving their English and has established what she calls “all-school office hours” where any student or staff member can meet with her.
Jancin states, “Out of a university with 10,000 students, I am the only foreign teacher and non-Muslim. I think this makes my daily work at IAIN Salatiga very important, and very impactful.” She explains that many of her students chose to register for her class because they had never had a foreign teacher before. Jancin adds, “Before a student comes to my class, or to my office, the majority of people on this campus have never even had a conversation with a foreigner.” For these reasons, Jancin views approachability as being one of the most important aspects of her job as a Fellow. “I want to create a space where people, who would otherwise not have access to a first-hand cultural exchange with an American, can feel more comfortable asking questions and sharing their ideas.”
Devon’s fellowship activities have also taken her off campus on field trips with the English Club. This year, she accompanied students to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Prambanan Temple, the beach in Yogyakarta, and the movies in Surakarta. When she isn’t working at IAIN Salatiga, Devon also travels throughout Indonesia to deliver workshops. Most workshops are teacher training workshops, although some are cultural exchange visits to local public schools. Devon states, “these workshops are important because, as a teacher trainer and community member, they give me insight into the communities that I am living and working in.”
Food, Local Language Learning, and Intercultural Exchange
Jancin is especially enjoying exploring this new culture by learning about and tasting the food. As a lover of street food, Jancin has found the best nasi goreng (fried rice) and mi goreng (fried noodles) at a local warung (small family-owned restaurant). She also enjoys eating sate (skewered meat), soto ayam (chicken soup with rice), and pecel (traditional Javanese salad) with rice field snails. She states, “As an enthusiastic foodie and lover of spice, it is my mission to try as many different sambal (chili sauce made with a mortar and pestle) as possible.”
In addition to searching for food, Jancin enjoys yoga and Zumba classes taught by local Indonesians. These classes are all taught in Bahasa Indonesia giving Devon an opportunity to exercise both her brain and body. On the weekends when she is not traveling for workshops, Jancin stays with local Salatigan friends who have an eco-lodge, farm, and Javanese restaurant. This is where Jancin enjoys practicing her Bahasa Indonesia and interacting with people from the community. On Sundays, she often goes for hikes through the rice fields and up into the mountains with her local friends.
Batik, an Indonesian method of hand-printing textiles, is a vibrant aspect of local culture. Each region in Indonesia has its own traditional batik colors and design. Jancin enjoys buying batik fabrics and having them made into traditional clothing. She is also learning to make batik from an Indonesian artist from Yogyakarta, the epicenter of batik art. The process of making this type of fabric is intensive and involves making the design with hot wax and dyes to color the fabric.
The Impact of Teacher Training
“The most impactful aspect of being a Fellow so far has been the teacher training workshops that I get to facilitate throughout Indonesia,” Jancin states. Some are requested through the Regional English Language Officer (RELO), Fulbright ETAs, or Peace Corps Indonesia, while others are requested by local schools. The topics of the workshops vary tremendously, from assessment techniques to the impacts of online learning. The locations also vary, from teaming up in Bali with all Fellows in Indonesia for national teacher training camps, to going into remote mountain schools in Central Java to talk about American culture. “My favorite teacher training workshop theme, however, is communicative teaching activities,” Jancin mentions. Jancin teaches the activities by modeling, treating participants as students, and then leading reflection about it as teachers immediately after. “I find these sessions highly interactive and fun, because they generate discussion and critical thinking,” she explains. “At the end of these workshops, I feel that I’ve shared a few more tools for the teacher toolbox, helping connect a growing network of amazing Indonesian teachers who truly care about their students.”
Jancin is renewing her fellowship for 2019-2020. She looks forward to continuing to facilitate teacher training workshops and working with her university students on oral communication and teaching pedagogy. “I believe the more we teachers share ideas and resources, the more effective and fun our work becomes,” she states. “I’ve chosen to extend my fellowship because this work, creating cultural exchange through teaching English, is what I love to do.”
Devon Jancin grew up in Colorado and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado. While working as a student teacher in a Title 1 first grade classroom, she realized her passion for interacting with English Language Learners and their parents. From 2010 to 2012, she served in Peace Corps in Uganda. Afterward, she pursued a Master’s in TESL/TEFL at Colorado State University (CSU), earning an internship at CSU’s Academic English Program. Subsequently, Devon was an Instructor at CSU’s Academic English Program for three years, where she taught listening, speaking, reading, writing, and grammar. Last year, she became Head Teacher of American English at an international high school in Beijing, China. Devon’s experience with teaching people of different ages in a wide variety of places has helped her thrive as a Fellow in Indonesia.