July 6, 1992, phone at home is ringing, still a landline phone as mobile phone as not a mass products like today. I run and pick up the phone.
“Hi, may i speak to Gabriel”, said the voice from other side.
“Yes, speaking” i replied politely.
“Hi Gabriel, we’re pleased to inform that you passed both IQ and English test, you start working August 1”
I was shock, not believing what I just heard, me … Passed the test for Export Supervisor at PT.Pabrik Kertas Tjiwi Kimia ( now : Asia Pulp and Paper ) at the age of 18 and half was a thrilling moment.
That day i feel thankful that my parents have force me hard to learn English and Mandarin hard paid off.
Being able to communicate in more than one language is very important in this modern, diverse world. Unfortunately, to my opinion, schools in the Indonesia don’t have sufficient language programs in high school, Having bilingual school is something that other countries have done for years. It is the right for all students in Indonesia to have good standard of education, Bilingual school should not be just a standard for expensive, school plus or international school, it must be basic standard for all school, includes state schools.
It’s time for Indonesia education to step up and meet the standards of the rest of the world, by starting a complete bilingual class that continues through all of the grades, start even from pre-school!
So why start when children are, well — children?
Young children enjoy learning and are not usually afraid to try new things and make mistakes. This allows them to delve right into the language, without apprehension, unlike older students, who may be more cautious.
Another benefit to the process of studying a language different from that of our native tongue is that it helps increase the scores of standardized tests. Children who participate in day-to-day language studies perform better on standardized tests than students who do mono-language
Second or third language skills have proven to improve memory and listening ability compared to monolingual speakers. Studies conducted by Cornell Language Acquisition Lab (CLAL) have shown that “Children who learn a second language can maintain attention despite outside stimuli better than children who know only one language.
Being surrounded by a second language at a young age teaches children about diversity and cultures, right from the beginning. They are able to experience and explore different aspects of different cultures, which makes them more open to people who are not like themselves in every way. Learning a language is one of the most authentic ways to truly understand and experience a culture. It allows children to be involved with another culture, in a unique way. They also become more accepting earlier in life.
Research findings by NEA Research, it’s stated that “Foreign language learners are more tolerant of the differences among people.” Isn’t that what our national slogan “Bhineka Tunggal Ika is all about, accepting everyone, despite our differences? Teaching children second language is a solution that could help make children and teenagers even more accepting.
Furthermore, having the ability to speak fluently in more than one language can help children find work, once they grow out of adolescence. These days almost all type of job, with good pay, require the use of other languages, such as being a diplomat, a marketing specialist, journalist, airline employee etc, Ability to speak second international language English, is even more important now as Indonesia is joining ASEAN Free Trade 2015. Without ability to speak English, we are losing our comptetitive edge as nation.
It’s irony in Indonesia that our decision maker had opinion that learning English at primary school considered “too young”, some people also placed concern that students who study in “international or bilingual school” tend to be less patriotic, will be a detriment to a child’s abilities in their native tongue. That’s totally BS – Bullsh*t. Mastering foreign language has nothing to do with our respect toward motherland, it will benefit Indonesia as this ability will help us winning competition in this hypercompetion era.
Next question, Native language teachers are too expensive for government budget
I have solution for the above question, every years there are tons of teachers in US , Australia and England retired, lots of them want to have retirement time at “land where the sun shine 360 days in a year”. We can offer that opportunity to them, in exchange for their willingness to come and teach our students a proper English, we offer them basic salary, simple housing and a chance to make life contribution in land of sunshine.I bet tons of retired good teachers will apply for this opportunity.
Problem solved, now, do we have willingness to upgrade our education ?
Selamat Hari Pendidikan Nasional, God Bless Indonesia !