#EngTalk: Balancing English and Bahasa Indonesia by @MonkeeNoodles in @thejakartaglobe

Afternoon fellas, I hope this second Tuesday of February 2013 treating you well :)

Do you still remember our #EngTalk on English Studies being erased from Primary School studies? You can see it here http://englishtips4u.com/2012/10/31/engtalk-english-studies-in-indonesian-primary-school-erased-your-thoughts/ …

So today we’re going to discuss further on this, I hope you’re up for it :)

But before that, I want you to do a bit of reading for the next hour :) Click here to read -> http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/talkback/balancing-english-and-bahasa-indonesia/570152 …

or here:

Balancing English and Bahasa Indonesia

February 07, 2013 | by Fedina Sundaryani

The importance of language has never been a question in anyone’s mind. Though from time to time the obstacles of daily life may hinder our ability to appreciate the salience of the way we speak and communicate to each other, news such as the potential removal of the English language in Indonesian public elementary schools come back to remind us once again.

Though such news is considered old and was eventually nixed due to the pressure from the public’s disapproval, it brings up a variety of questions that we may not necessarily have the answers to.

Why the sudden emphasis on the ability to communicate verbally in English? Is it only due to the capitalist push to catch up with developed nations? Is it globalization? And, finally: Where does the English language fit into Indonesian society?

Bahasa Indonesia as a language is a strange one. Unlike most other modern languages in the world, the Indonesian language’s origins are not purely organic. Due to the needs of trade in the Dutch East Indies, however, this language was created, and under the colonization of the Dutch and the Japanese, the Indonesian language was used in order to constrict Indonesian freedom.

This was done in several ways; first, unlike many other colonial powers, the Netherlands did not force their own language upon Indonesians while building upon and using the Indonesian language in order to have a cleaner, faster and more efficient administration in Indonesian. The Dutch language was only exclusive to those who could afford education, meaning those who could not speak it were excluded from certain information.

Second, during the Japanese occupation, Dutch language was strictly prohibited in order to establish Japanese rule. Though both these concepts assume a bleak past of the Indonesian language, in October 1928, the Youth Pledge (“Sumpah Pemuda”) announced three ideals that would eventually lead to Indonesia’s independence; one motherland, one nation and one language. One could argue that by creating these ideals, and by establishing one language, Indonesians were able to take control of their situation to unite and release themselves from the constraints of both the Dutch and the Japanese occupation.

So if the Indonesian language is not only such an important feature of our culture, but also an important feature of our history, why the sudden uproar about the possibility of a foreign language that would have been taken out of the elementary school curriculum? Many argue that as the lingua franca of the world, the English language is an essential part of an Indonesian’s education and that removing it would only make Indonesia move even further behind in the international system.

This has been justified by explanations that global medias, such as the Internet, mostly use the English language and that in order to build the economy and create transnational businesses, we must be armed with the English language. Some even feel that unless one worked for the government or at a law firm, formal Indonesian language is not an essential tool, instead relying on colloquial Indonesian language for daily conversations.

However, though these are relevant points, there also arise many problems from the overemphasis of the English language. The first factor is the concept of language colonization. Though it is an abstract concept, it is an important one to note. With the acceleration of globalization through the Internet and television, we are constantly bombarded with western news and ideas and these are mostly explored in English.

Though exploring new ideas is not a bad thing — on the other hand, it is encouraged — this constant flood of information may be changing the way we think about things and also changes the location of our focus. Yes, it is important to understand the political implication of the Arctic situation, but because our information is in English and those pieces of information largely involve the rest of the world, sometimes Indonesian issues are not deemed to be as important as those international issues and are taken purely at face value.

Furthermore, though optimists may think otherwise, English is not pragmatically useful for those in the poorer demographic. This might be controversial in a sense that I am not even giving a chance for those who grow up in poverty to become a “success” but I plead otherwise; those who are in the poorer demographic of Indonesia are probably more concerned about their mobility in Indonesian society and not in an international one.

In fact, I would argue that the overemphasis on the English language in our educational system is actually creating a wider gap between the rich and the poor by creating stigma against those are cannot speak English, worsening an already big problem in Indonesia.

As I lament the dangers of the decrease in the popularity of the Indonesian language, I do realize the irony of my situation. Though I am nationally Indonesian, my first language is English; I speak English at home with my family and my most vivid memory of formal Indonesian language training is during high school where I took Bahasa Indonesia as a second language.

It is even more ironic that I am writing for the Jakarta Globe, one of the largest English-language publications in Indonesia. But, let me ask you this; who will read this? Only those who have English-language abilities will be able to and a majority of these people would be highly educated people, further emphasizing my point on stigmas.

One may argue that this article can be translated, but translating a language is difficult in the way nuances may differ. Yet, even if we get the nuances correct, will those living in poverty have time — or even be able to — read this article? In the current system, the English language may be prevalent in our public schools but this does not affect those who cannot afford to go to school and are forced to drop our in order to make a living; English, to them, would be essentially useless.

With the increase in globalization and in an effort to keep up in this economic race, I do understand the importance of the English language. To some extent, I do see the reasons why teaching this language from an early age is desirable. However, I believe that if we are to emphasize the usage of the English language, we must also remind ourselves that with learning the formal Indonesian language, we are able to study our culture, our politics and ourselves.

The article shared was by @MonkeeNoodles, a friend of admin who now studies and lives in Japan. When admin read it, her opinion reminded of our previous #EngTalk on English Studies being erased form Primary School studies.

The writer emphasised on how English is more likely taking over Bahasa Indonesia nowadays therefore it is important to balance it. Do you agree OR disagree Bahasa Indonesia and English should be balanced in our education?

So do you agree OR disagree with this article? Let admin know and don’t forget the hashtag #EngTalk Interesting answers will get an RT as usual :) So c’mon share your opinion!

A1. @misni_parjiati: I agree with it. It’s important to balancing English & Indonesia language. Just coz Indonesia language is our mother language, many people underestimate it… They more focus on studying English in the end they don’t really know about the proper usage or maybe grammar in Indonesia language. In my opinion, Indonesia language is quite hard to learn, it’s also tricky. Especially when it come to writing.For example: many people don’t know the difference between di- as a passive structure and di- that indicate a place common mistake example: dimana and di berikan.

Culture and language has a deep relation. Language defines who we are, our roots, our culture, our legacy. ideas, wisdom, etc transferred through language. We can learn other languages as many as we want, but don’t forget our native language.If a language extinct so does its culture. I remember once my chief editor said that If this state collapse there will be no Indonesia language.

Admin quite agree with you on that, some grammars in Bahasa Indonesia are quite confusing.

A2. @dheota: I disagree with her statement,indonesia language is quite complicated but it’s funny enough to learn.Especially in writting.

A3. @wayanoo: hm I agree, my score in english was higher than indonesian itself, that’s ironic, and that’s need to be balanced but guys…I’m proud being indonesian people, that’s it, that’s the point (‾⌣‾)

A4. @timothydaely: I don’t think “balancing” English and Bahasa Indonesia means to take out English from the curriculum. That would mean a decrease in the quality of our education system. But would they also decrease the school fee? No I don’t think so. Therefore it means that parents will pay the same for a less qualified education. And when they want their kids to study English, they have to take them to English courses. Which mean more spending. And remember the govt’s reason was “6 years is not enough for one to study their mother language”. LOL to that. oh, concerning about Bahasa Indonesia as our language doesn’t necessarily mean not to learn other languages.

A5. @amaya0630407: We must not forge our mother tongue’s language in this era as we learn English as foreign language, even though the grammatical structure is hugely different in my opinion, it must to be balanced.

A6. @immanniar: i do agree!!n maybe we should concern about our native language first since we still like fools in bahasa ;))

A7. @Yusrindha: yes I agree because Bahasa Indonesia is our mother language and English is international language.

A8. @MegDafiLee: definitely agree, the important thing that should be changed is the Indonesian point of view, esp. the government

A9. @ucaaguslagk: agree. Everyone needs to know that the need of mastering English doesn’t mean forgetting about maintaining our own language.

A10. @__hujan@misni_parjiati agree, but english is not our culture, means we lack of culture minded now… :/

A11. @erikasavitri: i do agree as both are necessary. Bahasa Indonesia is used for our daily, yet English is commonly used to study&work globally

Based on what’s in the article, the ultimate question is this:

Knowing that Bahasa Indonesia was created during the Dutch invasion and became our Satu Bahasa in Sumpah Pemuda and English seems to be creating some sort of new gap in our society also ironic situations to some, do you think that balancing English Language and Bahasa Indonesia will be difficult in this era?

B1. @MegDafiLee: that’s the challenge :D

B2. @yuniarchristy: i think that’s not too difficult. it’s important to keep Bahasa as nasional language but use english is important too in this era, as we all know english is international language. if we can’t speak english fluently, it’ll difficult to us to know the progress in the world out there.

B3. @amaya0630407: it might be, but as long we can make a change between those gap, it won’t be impossible

B4. @NadiaFausta: balancing those two languages isn’t that difficult if you get interested in both language and aim to learn :)

B5. @jokodjoko: not really, it depends on us. If we respect our mother language, we should keep Bahasa use in everyday but there’s nothing wrong if we learn English 2 get a new knowledge & to get a better future in case we really in case we really need English in this era.

B6.@indahpmt: in my opinion we need to study English Language because English Language is a global language and to understand it we. We must learn English Language start from the beginning #EngTalk

B7. @Yusrindha: pretty difficult.We need to filter purely b.indo from b.gaul, other side we also keep national language from foreign language. We have to always welcome to foreign language.But the most important point is we have to use B.indonesia every moment.

B8. @tiwultiwi: it’s okay if we can use those two languages based on situation we faced in daily life

B9. @dinamels: if we think that balancing each of the language were hard, we’ll never earn any

B10. @irapryanto: I’m a mom w/ 3 adorable kids, we speak english and bahasa daily. It really helps kids to adapt and learn quickly many things

B11. @wayanoo: no, all aspects using english, we can’t just ignore it because there is a gap between it, what an epic ironic huh?

B12. @anggiemya: both english and bahasa have their own rules, if we know that rules, it’ll be so easy. English and bahasa have their difficult and easy side, and our job is how to make them easily to learn

B13. @yaqin_ainul: English capability is necessary nowadays to pursue an education,to find a job, to spread our network

B14.@Gcalvaristhy: I took my high school and my first year of college abroad. Honestly, I enjoy speaking and writing in English. It is making me feel like.. my ideas are accepted in universe if people could understand what I am saying. But being unable to speak my national language is also making me feel alone. Therefore when I meet other Indonesian. I’m sooooo happy to know there are people who share same flag and speak same language with me, I sort feel “Hey, I’m home”. There is no such thing as Indonesian Language versus English. It supposed to be : Indonesian Language with English.

B15. @mrazifmahmud@Yusrindha Situations and circumstances decide what language to apply. Adapt languages to the environment – flexibility.

B16. @putrajakarta: I have to agree that english is important but I have to admire that bahasa is more important to us Indonesian. Do you want bahasa to be just a legend? Some language in the world already extinct..Some are already endangered. There’s a language that only one person that know about that language (sorry I’ve forgotten what language it is)

B17. @NenoNeno: the way I see it.. Learning English nowadays is rather a necessity while learning Indonesian is a must. It’s like ‘I use English for communication with the world outside my country, while Indonesian with people inside’& if I live somewhere I need to learn the local language to know more about the place & communicate with the people.

So.. fellas think that it would be difficult to balance Bahasa Indonesia and English?

B18. @raafian: I’d rather said that learning English is amust. If not, how we can greet the tourists?

B19. @andrialfansyah: Not really, because they are my daily habit. I do wish Bahasa could be one of the most languages spoken in the world #EngTalk

B20. @NenoNeno: not difficult at all. Language is about function. I speak Indonesian, English, Javanese, and understand Balinese. #EngTalk

B21. @mutiahathifah: no and yes, it depends on us and our mind. Both are important for now and future.

So it seemed that a lot of you think that balancing Bahasa Indonesia and English would be difficult such as knowing when and where to use it (adapting to situation) or because English is as important as Bahasa Indonesia

Well done to all of you that have shared your thoughts and opinions this evening :) Sorry I can’t RT all of them..

Fellas final thoughts:

@deaprodhite: When we realize that our language reflect our identity, we must be proud of our language

@erika_Latip: I think the government should be change the education system so we can use Bahasa and English balance as early as possible

@Yusrindha: we can conclude that we have to rich language, it prolly broad out our networking both in our country or foreign. :) Thank you @EnglishTips4U, learning english with u always having fun.

Thank you for all your participation this evening’s #EngTalk. hope it has been a useful session aaaand let’s hope that the Indonesian government hears what we think :) hehehe, G’nite!

Compiled and written by @daedonghae at @EnglishTips4U on February 12, 2013

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