What do you think about teaching English to young learners in Indonesia? In my opinion, teaching English to children in Indonesia is necess...

[OPINION] Teaching English to Young Learners in Indonesia

What do you think about teaching English to young learners in Indonesia?

In my opinion, teaching English to children in Indonesia is necessary. It may not seem to be very useful at the beginning, but I think English can serve as basic knowledge for the children to learn Foreign Language. It needs to be noted that FL here is not only English, it can be Spanish, French, or whatever language they might be interested in to learn in the future. As Pinter (2006) has pointed out that young learners have lower levels of awareness about themselves as language learners as well as about the process of learning, while older learners show a growing level of awareness about themselves as language learners and their learning, I believe parents have a significant role in directing what the children are learning before they have a high level of awareness as a language learners so that they can choose which languages they want to learn more. Moreover, the inclusion of English into the curriculum has been warmly welcome by many people, especially parents. Parents are eager to support their children to learn English. (Damayanti, 2008)

Nevertheless, teaching English in Indonesia needs sound considerations. Learning conditions, learners differences, and length of exposure should be taken into account. In conclusion, I'm agree that English should be taught to the children in Indonesia, whether it is in primary schools or in private schools.

How about teaching English to children in early age?

Teaching English to children in early age doesn't guarantee that they will be a proficient English speaker when they grow up. Age factor does contribute a lot in learning a language, but adults can also be proficient in English although they did not learn English since their childhood. As a matter of fact, they could also produce native-like pronunciation. Grosjean (1982) stated that adults can learn more rapidly than children because older age will have a better knowledge of  the world, semantic concepts, a longer memory span, and a more developed cognitive system. Additionally, in my opinion, it may also because adults have higher motivation than children. In the Module, it is stated that children may feel that foreign language is irrelevant to their daily lives, which make their motivation lower. In contrast to this, adults already understand the concept of foreign language. They even can learn a language on their own from books or another resources without teachers' help. Perhaps this indicates that adults' different needs also increase their intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in learning a language.

Now, about your teaching. How did you decide the appropriate language features?

I decide the appropriate language features according to the context that has been built. As the students have complete the cards to be given to the characters on the worksheets, present and past forms are used in the sentences.

How did you select the appropriate learning material?

To select appropriate learning material, we refer to the SK and KD. We also tried to modify and adapt the materials the teacher there gave us in a form of worksheet.

How did you integrate language skills in your teaching with the material you chose?

Similarly, to integrate the language skills, we refer to the SK and KD. We tried to relate the skills with the activities the students will do in the classroom. For example, we make use of the students' receptive skills to receive input that later will be able to be used by them in the next activities.

What are your difficulties and strategies in teaching English to young learners?

1. Difficulties: I personally still find it difficult to use repetition in a story. I think it is good for the repetition to be 'catchy' so that the students would memorize it longer. Aside from that, sometimes it is hard to choose which activities are best to measure the students' competences while taking account of the limited time allocation.

2. Strategies: I tried to look at the story books which contains repetition and use child-friendly language even though in the end I only made one or two repetition. To overcome the second difficulty, I tried to simplify the worksheet I received from the original teacher and consider the students' ability to respond to the instructions that I observed by watching my friend's teaching previously.

Furthermore, in teaching English to young learners, children learn not only through imitating. Their brain can creatively process the input they received from their environment. They can produce unique utterances such as "go-ed" by synthesizing the concepts they have received even though they have not heard that word before. I can relate to this as I have a little brother who sometimes uses strange words that we do not usually use. At first, I thought it should be corrected directly so that he will not make the same mistake again. But then I realized that we do not have to correct it directly because children will gradually change their way of speaking as they grow up.

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