English. To scrap or not to scrap.

I was in the teacher’s room with my other colleagues when David, an Australian who’s been working here for almost ten years, showed me a column from Jakarta Post. Ministry of Education to Scrap English from Schools. I had heard of it before and wasn’t sure how to react. The other were giving comments of how absurd it was (it is) and how decisions that the ministry have made somehow seemed ignorant to what young people need (didn’t sound so strange -this is Indonesia ministry of Ed we’re talking about).

I googled and found an article about the infamous new rule the minister is about to apply to every schools in Indonesia (I doubt that private schools will join in). He said the main reason was that young students, grade 1 to 3 don’t need to be exposed to English when they are actually still struggling to learn their first language, he also said that students need to understand the philosophy of our first language before rushed into English.

I myself, had formal education on English at school when I was in the third grade. I didn’t see it affect me today, or whether it would be better if I had it earlier. Of course, I had extra education from TBI when I was eleven until my college year, I must say English at school wasn’t really helpful. But I was lucky, not everybody can afford that education and had to relay to schools.

But is it true that a young student need not be rushed into new language? Is it bad for their development? So I did another quick research. Here what I found from http://www.learninglinks.org.au

Myths surrounding bilingualism.  There are many myths associated with bilingualism.•  Myth: delays in language are caused by learning a second language.This is not true. Like any other child, a child who is bilingual can have language delays, but learning a second language neither increases nor decreases the chances of having a language delay. •  Myth: it is easier to learn a second language if you stop using your first or home language and concentrate on the new language.The truth is that the stronger the first language is, the easier it is to learn a second language.•  Myth: parents should stop using the first or home language when the child begins speaking a second language such as English.In fact, the best way for families to support children learning English is to maintain the child’s first language at home.Parents don’t have to talk in English to help their child learn English. It is more important that parents use the language that they can use best and are the most comfortable speaking. When they do this they can provide models of grammatically correct sentences and access to a wide vocabulary. Parents should therefore continue to use their first language to talk to their child about everyday activities such as shopping, and share poems, stories, songs, books and games. It can also help if parents use the name of the language (for example, Mandarin or Cantonese), when speaking in this language to their child.

So I found that yes, some students might have difficulties coping with two language in their development process, but it is not the source of language delays. Furthermore, there are some benefits in learning two languages in early age, as quoted from http://www.asha.org

Benefits of Bilingualism Many research studies cite the cognitive-linguistic benefits of being a fluent bilingual speaker. Experts have found that children who are fluent bilinguals actually outperform monolingual speakers on tests of metalinguistic skill.In addition, as our world shrinks and business becomes increasingly international, children who are fluent bilingual speakers are potentially a tremendously valuable resource for the U.S. economy. Most Americans are currently monolingual speakers of English, and are finding more and more that it would be highly advantageous to their professional lives if they spoke a second language.

Interesting point of view, I wonder when the minister talked about our first language philosophy that should be mastered by the students before they actually start learning English (which, by the way, what is it?), did he think about our economy in future time?

I have students in third or fourth grade that speak fluent English, it amazed Rob, a teacher who shares the class with me. I think by the time they’re in my age, they’re gonna be able to give orations or speeches in perfect English. Which, I also realized, our president is not able to do. But on his account,  he might understand the philosophy behind Bahasa Indonesia.

No, no, no. No English for you, kiddos. The cow stays ‘sapi’ until you’re in 4th grade!

Indonesia unite. :)

recently, Indonesia got a really hard time with peace. Especially that caught the nation attention right now is natural disasters that happened one after another. Two days ago, my Twitter’s timeline is flood with all my Jakartan friends complaining about traffic and flood. Flood and traffic are one common thing in this nation capital, but wait, this kind of traffic jam and flood are stated to be the worst ever happen in years. One of my friends took 7 hours to get from office to her house, which usually takes about 1-1,5 hours. The other one had to paid about 150 usd for taxi. The government blamed the drainage system the city has, it said was built 40 years ago where there’s much less citizen and buildings. (well, of course the people blame the government for an unreliable city drainage, who else they’re going to blame? the rain?). Many lost their home because of the flood and needed to be evacuated.

then, the next day, a natural disaster happened in Mentawai, an island located in West Sumatra. An earthquake at 7.5 richter scale shook the island, a tsunami was feared was going to happen, there is warning for evacuation. But last night, the government stated that tsunami threat is not gonna happen, but this afternoon, it did happen. As I writing this, 108 died and another 502 are lost.

and then, another hours, a volcano is erupted in Merapi, Central Java. The volcanic mountain, Mount Merapi has been on monitor to be erupted soon, so there’s warning and evacuations by the government. But still, it took life. One baby is dead, probably because all the smoke in the air and other 15 are burnt bad. As I writing this, a journalist reported dead when he tried to help the victims. How many is dead and lost is still unsure.

this last years, we encounter series of earthquakes and floods. In Sumbawa last August, and the unforgettable is in Padang, last year where it took 1117 lives and caused great damage to the city. The biggest probably the tsunami in Aceh that caused by the 9,1 Richter scale earthquake in Indian Ocean, 2006. 226.000 people were killed and went missing in the disaster, more than 500.000 were left homeless.

At time like this, some said God punished us for our behavior, some said it was us who neglected the mother nature and too selfish to care, some said well, things just meant to happen.

I said, let’s be thankful for what we have. For our brother and sister as this moment maybe lost their families, crying for death relatives, starving for food, uncertain of the future because earth took their home, and hurt.

let’s be thankful and help. Fellow Indonesian can help by donate to the account numbers below :

Palang Merah Indonesia: BCA KCU Sudirman . Account number : 035.311223.3 a/n Kantor Pusat PMI

Act for Humanity : Mandiri, account number : 1010005634264 and BCA 6760302021 both a/n Aksi Cepat Tanggap

 

Sri Mulyani for World Bank

May 5 (Bloomberg) — Indonesia’s Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati, who has been a candidate to head her nation’s central bank, was selected to be a top adviser to World Bank President Robert Zoellick.

Sri Mulyani will start June 1 as one of the Washington- based bank’s three managing directors, the highest rank under Zoellick. She “brings a unique set of skills and experience to the World Bank Group, from the vantage point of an advancing middle-income country that still faces significant challenges of poverty,” Zoellick said in an e-mailed statement.

The selection highlights the rising global role of Indonesia, the fourth most-populous nation and a member of the Group of 20 emerging and developed countries. It may also affect Indonesia’s economic leadership, as Sri Mulyani was one of two candidates proposed last June to head Bank Indonesia, an appointment stymied by a parliamentary probe led by factions within the governing coalition and members of the opposition.

For complete article in businessweek.com click here

proud to have her there, but kinda felt ashamed on behalf of some party who took her dedication for granted. It’s somehow felt like Indonesian’s loss instead of pride.