Language and Literature Program
Post Graduate Program
The State University of Surabaya
It is certainly true that Indonesian kid under the age of ten should learn to communicate in English. This might be due to the fact that Indonesian kid is taught English from early age mainly in elementary school. There are two main reasons would be stated related to the previous statement. Those are English as an international language and the best time for learning language especially foreign language.
First of all, I would like to discuss how important English in the current situation. Nowadays, English is very important for us related to globalization era that we face today and its development in the future. Now, The English language becomes a need for most of the people in the world. Because English as an international language that is used by people in the world. As Knowles (1997, p. 162) stated that “English has changed in the course of the present century from being the language of The British Empire to the International language of communication.” Because of being an international language, English is used for many purposes. Almost every interaction is done by people using English, such as in economy, education, politics, technology, etc.
English is very important for people who are not a native speaker of English in another country, master English well in making interaction among people in the world especially in facing this globalization era. It is related to what Mouton (2011) stated that globalization and the perception held by individuals, society and the state that foreign languages are necessary and valuable assets in today's competitive economies. Indeed, English is important in order to be competitive in world economic activity today.
Moreover, the current issue in economic today that also need English mastery will be faced start from 2015 is ASEAN Economic Community (AEC). This community is developed to make cooperation among ASEAN Countries especially in economy. AEC establish a single market and production base. It is also possible that worker comes into each ASEAN country look for a job. In doing an economic activity and look for the job, of course, English is being necessary. It is important for ASEAN country especially Indonesia to prepare Indonesian people to face this era, so Indonesian people can get the advantages of ACE in the future.
Besides in economic activity, English is used in technology, such as programming language and instruction in the technology itself. Knowles (1997, p. 160) argues that “within a generation of the invention of the computer, the computer industry was established on a global scale, using English as its language”. In computer English is main program language used in it. Not only computer but also almost all kinds of technology are using English as the operating system of them. Indeed, it needs knowledge of English even less in order to understand how to operate and what the contents mean. For instance, technology devices are close to the kid is game and even computer. Those devices mainly use English in operating them. So, English is important for the kid for nowadays.
For this reason, in order to master English well, it is necessary for Indonesian people to learn English from an early age. Even though, it is quite different for Indonesian kid to learn English as a foreign language. Learning English in early age can be mix with learning second language for Indonesian kid. It is possible to Indonesian kid become bilingualism. Besides using Bahasa Indonesia as second language, Indonesian kid can use English in daily communication within their community that use English too.
Realized the era will be faced by Indonesian people and how important English for them, in the national curriculum, English is put as a subject that should be taught in the school. “This effort is related with education ministries of most Asian countries who give their students an early start to English language learning, beginning as early as Primary 3 in most cases” (Mouton, 2011, p. 7). In Indonesia, English has been taught since 1975 Curriculum until now, 2013 curriculum. Even in 2013 curriculum, English is aimed how students able to communicate in by using English to support the development of tourism.
Formally, in Indonesia English is taught from Junior High School and senior high school. While in college or university, it is taught in the early year of the program. The aim of teaching English in Junior and High School is to introduce English to the students and as basic knowledge for further education taken for the next level. Nowadays, English is taught not only in Junior and Senior High School but in elementary school started to teach English in the classroom. Even though it is not set in the national curriculum, English is put in additional time in the learning program. The aim of this teaching is same as teaching English in Junior High School that is how to give basic knowledge of English to the students. But in elementary school students are taught more about English vocabulary and basic expression in daily life.
Those facts above show us the point of view in education that English is very important to be taught to Indonesian people from early of the age. It is because the ideal time to learn a language is under the age of ten. In this age children have the knowledge to understand the language. As Garton and Pratt said in Carter (1997, p. 33), "seven-year-old children are able to recognize grammatical deviation and to make grammatically correct judgments of a sentence from a list." This knowledge allows children to understand language by recognizing the meaning of a word. It might be possible for children under the age of ten to communicate using the language they know.
Having implicit knowledge might be possible for children learn not only first language and second language but also a foreign language. This case can happen in Indonesia where English as a foreign language. That’s why learning English in early age is important for Indonesian Kid. It is meant make the kid master English early to make them able to communicate using English.
Furthermore, learning a language in early age is very important because the first three years of life, the foundation of thinking, language, vision, attitudes, aptitudes, and other characteristics are laid down (Vos:earlychildhoodnews.com). In this age children have ability in acquiring language even second or foreign language. So, learning English is possible in the early age for Indonesian kid.
Besides the above reasons, there are some characteristics of kid or young learner that can be important reason why early age is better to learn English. As Harmer (2003, p. 38) stated that “young learners generally display an enthusiasm for learning and curiosity about the world around them.” They want to know more about everything that they see and hear from their environment. It will be helpful when kid learns English with enthusiasm. They can improve their vocabulary mastery and then use it to interact with the others.
Generally, human has ability to interpret new experience by using previous experience. The previous experience based on the pre existing knowledge structure that human has that is called schema (Yule, 1996, p. 85). It is possible for human being even kids use this schema in communication because interpretation is important in communication process. The kids are able to understand what speaker says to them. It means they can communicate with others even in limit sentence they have. Because they don't understand word by word, to help them able to understand well, we have to try to give them gesture and facial expression about the sentence or word they hear.
There are some advantages can be gotten when kid learning English from an early age. Learning English for a kid makes them more creative and better at solving complex problems (www.kumon.com). By learning language in early age develops kid's mind becomes creative in doing something, such as when playing games or another activity. Those abilities are important factors that can be very helpful in learning English process then. Creativity helps student easier to construct the structure of language will be used in communicating.
The second advantage can be got by kids who learn language earlier is better access for other resources in their life. The resource can be from environment or it is possible that resources from another place. The kid can recognize what in surrounding them well, as person, thing, animal, etc. Indeed, having many resources can develop how kids interact with another kid as their friends and even people who are upper than them. So, more resources can make how interactive they are.
In conclusion, English is very important to be mastered by Indonesian people in order to be able to face the next era. Mastering English well is not as easy as mastering second language, in this case Bahasa Indonesia, because English is a foreign language in Indonesia. It needs more time and more practice in order to mastery in using English. It has to be practiced as often as possible to make non native speaker usual to communicate in English. In fact, the kid who uses English to communicate in early age is better in accent than adult or adolescence learner. It is extremely good for the kid if they can pronounce English as good as possible like a native. That learning process can be more successful if it is supported by proper environment, such as bilingual family. So, when the kid becomes adult and faces the era when English becomes the main language in communicating, hopeful kid ready to use English as an international language in the world.
Carter, R. (1997). Investigating English Discourse: Language, Literacy and Literature. London: Routledge.
Harmer, J. (2003). The Practice of English Language Teaching. London: Longman.
Knowles, G. (1997). A Cultural Hystory of English Language. London: Arnold.
Mouton, D. G. (2011). Foreign Language Teaching in Asia and Beyond: Current Perspective and Future Directions. Boston: Walter de Gruyter Inc.
Yule, G. (1996). Pragmatics. New York: Oxford University Press.