Language use, language attitude, and identity: Perceptions of high school students attending an international school in Jakarta

Katharina Endriati Sukamto, Maria Fe Suganob Nicolau, K.R. Vinitha Rani, Sugiyanta Sugiyanta


This study explores the perceptions of high school students who attend an international school in Jakarta towards language use, language attitude, and identity. One hundred sixty-five students aged between 15-18 years old participated in this study. They were divided into three categories based on their nationalities, namely (1) Indonesian students who were born and raised in Indonesia, (2) Indonesian students who were born and raised outside Indonesia, and (3) non-Indonesian students (expatriates) who were studying in Indonesia. The data were collected using a survey and in-depth interviews. The findings reveal that the majority of the students in the first and second categories were more comfortable with both oral and written English rather than their first language. However, for the expatriates in the third group, they could express themselves better when they used their first language. Generally, their attitude towards their home language was quite positive. The need to speak their first language (e.g., Korean, Hindi) was a gateway to connect with friends and relatives who did not speak English. As for the students’ identity, this study reveals that although the students were more fluent in English, they felt that they were strongly connected to their country of birth. This study draws out the pedagogical implication that the use of English as a medium of instruction can be quite critical, especially for Indonesian students, as it may have an impact on the loss of their home language.


language use; language attitude; identity; first language; second language

Full Text:



Basuningtyas, D. I. A. (2014). Code switching by three young Indonesian-English bilinguals [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya.

Bichani, S. (2015). A study of language use, language attitudes and identities in two Arabic speaking communities in the UK [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. University of Sheffield.

Block, D. (2013). Issues in language and identity research in applied linguistics. ELIA, 13, 11-46.

Dearden, J. (2014). English as a medium of instruction– a growing global phenomenon. British Council.

Edwards, J. (2009). Language and identity: An introduction. Cambridge University Press.

Fina, A. D. (2012). Discourse and identity. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The encyclopedia of applied linguistics (pp. 1–8). Elsevier.

Hamers, J. F. & Blanc, M. H. A. (1995). Bilinguality and bilingualism. Cambridge University Press.

Jaspal, R. (2009). Language and social identity: A psychosocial approach. Psychtalk, 64, 17-20.

Kroon, S., & Kurvers, J. (2020). Language use, language attitudes, and identity in the East Timorese diaspora in the Netherlands. Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 41(5), 444-456.

Kurniasari, M. D., & Mbato, C. L. (2018). Indonesian students’ language attitudes toward Indonesian and English through education and working frame. Language and Language Teaching Journal, 21(Supplement), 69-86.

Kymlicka, W. (2001). Politics in the vernacular: Nationalism, multiculturalism, and citizenship. Oxford University Press.

Lenneberg, E. H. (1967). Biological foundations of language. Wiley.

Nguyen, T. T., & Hamid, M. O. (2016). Language attitudes, identity and L1 maintenance: A qualitative study of Vietnamese ethnic minority students. System, 61, 87-97.

Onishi, N. (2010, July 25). As English spreads, Indonesians fear for their language. The New York Times.

Osler, A., & Starkey, H. (2003). Learning for cosmopolitan citizenship: Theoretical debates and young people’s experiences. Educational Review, 55(3), 243-254.

Shahrebabaki, M. M. (2018). Language and identity: A critique. Journal of Narrative and Language Studies, 6(11), 217-226.

Snow, C. E. & Hoefnagel-Höhle, M. (1978). The critical period for language acquisition: Evidence from second language learning. Child Development 40(4), 1114-1128.

Torres, P. V. & Pablo, I. M. (2018). The role of language in the identity formation of transnational EFL teachers. HOW, 25(2), 11-27.

Urip, R. (2015). Choose to speak English at home: A case study of family language policy of three native bilingual families [Unpublished master’s thesis]. Universitas Katolik Indonesia Atma Jaya.

Vygotsky. L. S. (1962). Thought and language. MIT Press.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Print ISSN: 2355-2794, Online ISSN: 2461-0275

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.