So the government wants to scrap English from the elementary education. Good idea? Bad idea?

Nowadays, everywhere I go, there will always be families that communicate in English (or Chinese, but that’s rarer). Yes, they’re fluent; yes, they know their English; yes, they’re communicating in full English all right (and sorry to say, most of my students don’t.)

At the same time, there’s also that unease of the disappearing of their supposed-to-be Mother Tongue… as well as the notion that “Bahasa Indonesia is not needed.” It is also a fact that more and more of our words in Bahasa Indonesia are being replaced by foreign words.

Why do we expect the young generation to learn English at the first place?

Yes, English is a language that everyone uses today. As lingua franca, English becomes the bridge for us to communicate from people across the globe. It’s significant now, and I’d expect it to be even more in these children’s future.

People may argue that polyglot is better in cognition and creativity—but they who study multiple languages are more open. Language is, after all, a part of culture, and being exposed to different ones lets the learner to experience the culture as well.

There’s also the fact (assumption?) that children with their natural curiosity are natural learners–they can readily absorb information and this would perhaps be the best way to perfect that native-like pronunciation.

But at the end, do they answer the question? I don’t think so—not from the courses I’ve been seeing. Instead of using language as a medium to communicate, there’s an overt focus on structure—which may not be as important for young children.

Why do we expect the children to learn English? Yes, we want to prepare them for a global world. However, there are better ways to answer this expectation.

While I do think that today’s children are faced with higher expectations, I don’t think that scrapping English is the answer to it. (But hey, I lived through all those, so did my colleagues and my parents). What we need right now is a reformation of the education system—not another addition-and-deletion of subjects.

Let me end this by sharing a disappointment from a sad parent whose child cannot name a rabbit in her mother tongue. And the parent is teaching Bahasa Indonesia. I won’t blame anyone, but something needs to be done about this phenomena.