Mastery of English in All Subjects Essential for Teachers, Students

2 Juli 2009 Artikel Pendidikan

Nowadays, a lot of people in Indonesia are able to speak English at a basic conversational level. But when it comes to more specific issues, let's say science or IT, more work is needed.

Chrisitian Duncamb, director of English and Education Reform at the British Council, said recently that as the world becomes increasingly interrelated, mastery of English in specific contexts, such as that used for conducting research or business, is crucial.

He said that ensuring teachers of subjects other than English have an adequate proficiency in English is important for the realization of the government's policy on English Bilingual Education (EBE), which aims to see at least one international-standard school in every province, at which many classes are taught in English.

Since 2006, 112 schools have applied the EBE.

"A teacher is one of the most important key players in shaping a student's mind, especially those in the early stages of education. So there should be a guarantee that teachers have first mastered English so they can convey the message correctly," British Council education advisor Itje Chodidjah said on the sidelines of a recent symposium on bilingual education.

Based on her experience as a trainer, it takes at least two years before a teacher can really teach in English.

In addition, she said, the government should also assess teachers in order to gain a complete picture of their ability, including their knowledge of the content to be taught and their mastery of English.

"The ministry's Education Excellence Institute (LPMP), which has trainers in all of its chapters, can do this assessment," she said, adding that the trainers must first undergo training themselves. "This is where the British Council comes in."

The British Council has been cooperating with LPMP to train English teachers in several primary schools.

However, Itje is not yet sure when the training for trainers will be conducted as the thorough plan is still being deliberated. But several areas of focus have been identified including pedagogical ability, language level of teachers and learners and knowledge of the materials.

Director general of primary and secondary education at the ministry, Suyanto, said that although the policy had not progressed much, the government would continue to work on it and support schools in need of help.

As part of a similar effort, the Cultural and Language Faculty of the University of Indonesia (UI) also recently held training sessions for English teachers from 25 high schools in Depok, West Java.

Indah Welasasih Ludji, the coordinator of the English writing workshop, said that the training was held to help students prepare for English writing tasks in college as well as to prepare the teachers themselves so that they may comply with the government's policy on international standard schools.

"Many students may be able to speak English fluently, but not all of them know how to write scientific papers, or even write at all in English. And that often happens here," she said, adding that the training covered how to write functional and narrative prose as well as essays.

"In the future, we hope we can reach other schools outside Depok."