Youth, Social Media and Indigenous Language Revitalization

Insights from Bandar Lampung, Indonesia

Kristian Adi Putra, University of Arizona


Scholars have highlighted the role and the contribution of youth in Indigenous language revitalization efforts (McCarty and Wyman, 2009; Kral, 2012; Wyman, 2012; Wyman,, 2014), as well as the need to hear their voices and understand their experiences and cultural practices for the formulation of socioculturally sustaining language and educational policies (McCarty, 2010; Lee and Carecer, 2010; Davis and Phyak, 2015). The role of Indigenous youth becomes central, as they are the ones who will determine the future of their Indigenous language; their loyalty and positive ideology toward their Indigenous language, culture, and identity will help contribute to the survival of their endangered language. As digital technology advances and people have better access and literacy to use it, recent studies, such as (Kral, 2010; 2011; 2012; Jones,, 2013; Cru, 2015), have reported how Indigenous youth have used social media to promote the use of their Indigenous language among themselves and everyone from their local community, shared videos about their culture and community that they produced with translated subtitles in dominant language, and connected with their global networks outside of their communities, which are all promising for Indigenous language efforts.

In this study, I sought to investigate (1) how four multiethnic youth in Bandar Lampung, a multilingual urban area in the Province of Lampung, Indonesia, who studied Lampung as a subject at school, used Lampung in their social media, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Path, (2) factors that affected their decision to use or avoid Lampung in their social media, (3) their perspectives about Lampung language revitalization efforts, and (4) how they looked at social media as a potential space for them to support such effort. The result of the study shows how although their posts in social media were in majority in Indonesian and English, they had also posted in their social media in Lampung and code-switched in all the languages they knew. All participants saw social media as a potential pedagogical resource and (formal and informal) space to promote the use of Lampung, but they were aware of how social networks that did not speak the language restricted them to socialize in Lampung more often. For all participants, Lampung is a language to better connect with local community, an identity that they live in, and a Lampung ethnic. All participants highly valued multilingual ability (Indigenous language, Indonesian, and English) as a way to connect locally, nationally, and globally, and commented positively on how language revitalization could be better accomplished with technology and collaboration. The theoretical and pedagogical implications of the study will be discussed further during the presentation.

Keywords: Youth, social media, language revitalization, multilingualism


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Kristian Adi Putra

Ph.D. Student, Second Language Acquisition and Teaching,
The University of Arizona