The coming year of 2015 will be one of important times for Indonesia. In this year, one of what people have been calling “global competitions” will be presented as well as faced by most of Indonesian people. It is the ASEAN Community which, according to business expert, is the space of time when people could freely move from one country to another to seek jobs and business opportunities. In this era, human resources in Indonesia including young people, professionals and job seekers are demanded to master global communication media as well as international language. They will be required to be able to communicate with others using English. Having known this requirement, Indonesian people are simply given chances to survive by acknowledging this Lingua Franca or to be prepared to see their competitors win the game in which they are involved.
English has been one foreign language in Indonesia which has been taught in schools for quite long time. However, only few Indonesian fellows who speak English in a received pronunciation quality. Although other Indonesians such as students, professionals including teachers and lecturers will declare themselves able to speak this language, a surprising fact shows that the way they speak is considered under qualified. It is from the common fact that lots of Indonesian people still stick to Indonesian grammar and phonetic when they speak English. They always defend themselves by mentioning that they speak English with Indonesian accent. They say that they also have rights to have their Indonesian accent as the English language itself has other three broad accents such as British, American and Australian. They grasp quite firmly their assumption that other English speakers in the world would accept their way.
This misleading assumption will look alright as long as they have conversation with Indonesian fellows or other English speakers of ASEAN countries. However, they will be surprised by the rejection, ignorance and exclusion by other English speakers from developed countries who will also take some important parts of the ASEAN Community Program 2015. It will certainly a problem for those Indonesian fellows as they will have only little chance to present themselves in the competition since they cannot get the enticing first impression to attract their future business partners, bosses or colleagues attention. One fact which can be a reference is the little number of Indonesian students in Australia who have long term friendship with their Australian colleagues. They tend to blend with other Indonesians or other students from Asian countries. It may not be fully used for a proof that it is caused by the low quality of Indonesian students’ English speaking ability. However, we can take a fine line in the long term friendship which always requires intensive communication in the same language with accepted pronunciation quality. The bottom line of this example is that only Indonesians with good and accepted speaking quality will have opportunity to broaden up their network through making friends with international people throughout the world. Then, if those who can speak properly and accepted by other speakers can get as many networks as possible during their study, similar idea will arise when they join the ASEAN Community. It means that they will have more chance to win the competitions in which they are already involved.
Having known and realized the potential consequences of the low quality of English speaking ability, Indonesian scholars need to work on ideas to lead changes. One of the changes might well be in the system of education and training of this foreign language. Everyone involved in Indonesian education have the responsibility to find some ways to teach and train English to their future human resources who will determine the continuation of this country. Once English teaching and training techniques have been changed to the favor of the improvement of Indonesian people speaking quality, there will be better stream of opportunity for the youth of this country to speak loudly in the International working competition.
Looking at the need of new ways to effectively teach and train English to Indonesian learners, some teaching strategies which expose the learners to acknowledge English in an authentic way can be the right answer for it. There is one of the few strategies suggested by English teaching experts which provides abundant opportunities for learners to improvise the way they should pronounce words, intonate the sentence and arrange well mannered presentation. The suggested example comes from an expert in teaching English for speakers of other languages from University of Canberra, Peter Copeman. He believes that the way of teaching English speaking using theater, drama and film actors’ voice to learn, listen, imitate and improvise the right way of speaking good and received English will be an actual way to make them really speak the language. He argues that using this technique can be one of effective ways of exposing learners with authentic English pronunciation and intonation. It can be a media of providing certain training for the learners to be interesting English speakers who can articulate words, arrange sentences and have presentation as well as conversation in a high quality manner. He has done a lot of researches in this field and has been teaching his students using this technique for the last 10 years to say the least. He claims that this technique is very effective as most of his students who come from countries in which English is a quite difficult language to speak become able to speak quite properly with received pronunciation and interesting intonation. It can be slightly concluded that using this technique to teach Indonesian learners will create more possibility to result in the learners being able to speak English in a fashionably good quality.
The sooner the implementation of the effective new teaching and training techniques, the better result for our human resources will be obtained. As we all know, ASEAN community is just around the corner. The global competition is already in our front door. If we choose to remain silent and do nothing, we will be crushed by the fast growing competition which will leave our young generations behind. We certainly do not want this to happen as it means that we would let other countries have their victory upon our nation in our own soil. I hope this article could stimulate our national education stake holders to start leading changes in the way they provide English education to our Indonesian future young leaders.
Agung Nugroho, S.Pd., M.Ed.
Graduate of Master of Education
University of Canberra
Expert Staff of International Office
Semarang State University