some months ago, i read some Indonesian news that for the new curriculum year 2013-2014, English will no longer be a mandatory subject in elementary schools in Indonesia. actually, i read the headline on one of my friends’ FB page, accompanied with all sorts of cursing words and protests from fellow Indonesians.
curious, i went to read the news. and i know that by writing this, i would probably be hated by my friends/other Indonesians, but i have to say: i actually agree with the Indonesian Ministry of Education.
their reason for taking out English as a mandatory subject is so that students of elementary schools would first learn & perfect their Indonesians before learning foreign languages.
i’ve written here once, how much it GETS to me that fellow Indonesians these days can’t seem to speak or write good & correct Indonesian. and i meant every word, it worries me that one day, Bahasa Indonesia will cease to exist because nobody speaks it well enough to teach the next generation. i don’t know if it would actually help or not that they take English out of the curriculum, but at least the idea behind it is something that i also believe in.
one of the first few things i learned after moving to Finland is how much Finns value their own language. i’m not saying that the people here speak correct Finnish all the time, but how they appreciate their own language is different than in my own home country. movies here would have Finnish titles instead of the original English ones (not all, but most of them). translated books would actually cost more than the original English books, which means the translators here are appreciated, much more than the translators in my home country are appreciated. translated books in Indonesia cost much cheaper than the original English books, so you can pretty much calculate how much a translator make for every book; that’s just how much they are worth. although i guess, in a way, it’s good, because that means more people there would have the money to buy the Indonesian version of books, which means at least SOME people can still learn how to use good & correct Indonesian. but how many people are willing to work as a translator with a low payment? and these people who actually do it, how good are they? i’ve heard one too many stories from book editors in Indonesia, how the supposed “translators” actually have no idea what they’re doing, not understanding the very thing they are “translating”, and sometimes, it even seems like they use google translator to translate the book, and claim it to be their own work. how long will this keep going on? and if the editors aren’t even as good as these editors i know, how many “translated” books out there have taught Indonesians wrong?
another thing i learned in Finland is that people at the daycare centers here would keep pointing out to the parents (especially those from different national backgrounds) that mother language is the most important one for the child, no matter where you live. so in my case, my future child’s priority would be Indonesian, even though we’re living in Finland. kids will learn the country’s language from the schools here, and English comes even later.
when i went to elementary school, i didn’t learn English until i was at the 3rd grade. before that, i had no idea how to pronounce “bye bye”, let alone what it meant. after English was introduced to me, i began buying English children’s books, and listening carefully to any English TV series or movies that i watched, to know how the words are pronounced. i learned how to sing Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love Of All” with the right pronunciation without even knowing what the words really meant. as i grew older, i also bought some English magazines, and though i never went to any English language course nor go to school abroad, i think my English isn’t so bad.
i guess what i’m trying to say is, even if English is out of the curriculum of the elementary schools in Indonesia, it’s not going to be a problem for the kids in Indonesia to learn English. first of all, movies & tv shows in Indonesia are always shown in their original languages, which are mostly English. there are still thousands of English magazines and children books available in Indonesia for those who want to teach English to their kids. and for those who have extra money, there are still numerous English language courses available outside the school. really, the most important thing is in fact to let the kids learn their own mother language first before introducing them to other languages.
the next topic, inevitably, would be my explaining why i am writing all this in English instead. who am i to say the importance of Indonesian language to Indonesians if i don’t even use it myself? well, that’s right, i don’t use it to write on my online blog. i do use it, however, to talk to my family & Indonesian friends, and also to write stories, which i’m still hoping one day to be published. at one point i also wrote in my blog in Indonesian, but i decided some years ago that i will write blog posts only in English. the thing is, i want a broader audience than Indonesians for my blog, and so English was chosen. as simple as that. and why is it that i never write “I”s and the first letters of a sentence in capitals? because i’m too lazy to hit the Shift button. 😀 (i don’t do that when i write a short/long story though.)
i think i know my Indonesian well enough that i feel that it’s okay for me to write & speak in English. i didn’t study communication for nothing, after all. and though i can’t speak/write perfect English, i know well enough to say “i’m bored” instead of “i’m boring” like what most Indonesians say when they feel bored (i kid you not). or write “deadline”when i mean to say the point in time when something needs to be completed, instead of “dateline”. and “of course” for something that’s exactly so, instead of “off course”. i could go on forever. it bothers me so much that these people don’t write these words in Indonesian, and instead they use incorrect English words. not only for personal use (i couldn’t care less if it was only in someone’s blog), but journalists and editors very often write these incorrect English words in magazines and newspapers that are printed & published around Indonesia, when their intermediate language is supposed to be Indonesian.
so way to go, Indonesian Ministry of Education. please, PLEASE, teach Indonesians how important it is to master our own language before even learning foreign languages. i hope to one day see a good Indonesian magazine or newspaper that is free from English words (or any other language), using only correct Indonesian language, with the correct spelling and all that.
the next topic, which is also the last, has a bit to do with yet another article i read some time ago. it’s written by an Indonesian mother who lives outside of Indonesia, and upon meeting another Indonesian mother at a random park one day, she got so excited and started talking to this other mother in Indonesian. after a while though, the other mother deflated the first mother’s excitement when she confessed that she has forgotten Indonesian language, since she’s been using the intermediate language used in the country where she lives. i can’t seem to find the article now, unfortunately, but i remember the important points.
yes, it’s unfortunate that you might one day forget some words in your mother language. it happens to me sometimes, i can’t seem to find the perfect word in my own language, even if it’s already at the tip of my tongue. but from what i read in that article, it was almost as if forgetting some words in your mother language means that you don’t love it. and i again beg to differ.
moving to a different country permanently means you would have to integrate with your new living place. getting accustomed with the different customs, and of course, learning the language. i love my mother language, and will continue using it whenever i can, but i can’t lie and say that i remember my Indonesian perfectly well when i very rarely use it. i won’t ever completely forget my mother language, of that much i know, and i won’t even forget how to correctly use the language, but i guess my brain isn’t as good as when i was younger, for i seem to forget some words. so you have the privilege to speak with your kids everyday in your own mother language even when you’re living abroad, good for you. who do i have? i don’t have a child of my own (yet), nor do i meet any Indonesian friend here regularly. i’m exposed to Finnish speaking community almost 24/7, so is it really a sin if i sometimes forget a few words in my own mother language?
loving your mother language is good, i encourage that. but integrating with your new living place is also just as important in my humble opinion. after all, you live there, in your new living place, so isn’t it understandable that you also pay respect to the people in your new living place by learning their language? loving your mother language is good, but closing your mind from other languages, especially the language used in your living place, is in my opinion a bit rude. again, you don’t have to master this other language, but enough to be able to interact with other people outside of your own cultural background.
learn your mother languages well, but don’t close your mind completely from foreign languages. when you’ve mastered your own mother language, you will never forget it, and then it’s time for you to reach beyond and learn those other languages. all in time. 🙂