Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Problematic Approach to English Learning and Teaching: A Case in Indonesia

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Problematic Approach to English Learning and Teaching: A Case in Indonesia

Article excerpt


This article deals with problematic approach to English learning and teaching due to misleading conception on the nature of English and on the process of acquiring it as well as the clues to the issues. The clues are: Firstly, English is not more difficult than any other languages, including Indonesian language, Bahasa Indonesia (Note 1). Secondly, there are two approaches that need considering in English instruction, grammar free and strict grammar approaches. The former is highly recommended for early age instruction and beginners whereas the latter is recommended for instruction for specific purposes. However the two approaches should collaborate and their applications should be based on needs analysis. Thirdly, Conflicting conception on whether L1 and L2 are the same processes should not deter the strategy of how language is acquired naturally. When proper conception on the nature of English is attained and it is approached properly, English subject is not burdensome and needs not be eliminated from Primary School curriculum, and there is no need to reduce time allotment for the subject in Senior High School as stipulated in Indonesian English curriculum amendment.

Keywords: acquisition process, context-based and strict grammar approaches, misleading conception, nature of English, psychological burden, purposes

1. Introduction

That English as a global lingua franca is increasingly important and even compulsory in all nations throughout the world in order for them to be able to communicate effectively one to each other has prompted the awareness that English must be learned and taught in and outside schools. In Indonesia where I am based, for instance, learning and teaching English is conducted extensively in formal schools beginning from early education to university levels. The fact can be seen in that English is one of a few subjects on which emphasis is given.

The strategy suggests that English as a global language is a second language in Indonesia that hopefully will lead to official use of it as a medium of communication in such domains as government and education. Unfortunately, the hope vanishes following the amendment of 2013 Indonesian English curriculum coming into effect in 2014, in which English subject in Primary School is eliminated and in Senior High School, time allotment for the subject is reduced. The amendment is deemed a serious setback.

The reasons why the new curriculum is implemented are not explicitly stated by the government but according to High School English instructors I teach in a teaching training major at postgraduate program, the reasons are English subject is too hard for Primary School pupils and English subject in Senior High School hampers the students' achievement in Bahasa Indonesia as national language. Such reasons are undoubtedly misleading. It is the wrong conception on the nature of English and how it is taught and learned that makes English subject too hard and there is no link between learning English too much and poor achievement in another language, Bahasa Indonesia.

Due to the misleading conception, the way English is learned and taught bears burden. Despite that since 1980's grammar-based approach has changed into functional use approach in Indonesian English curriculum, the instructors still teach English with grammar-based approach as well as with pronunciation and intonation they deem correct despite that they do not know exactly the correct ones. Consequently, the instructors fail to create fascinating atmosphere of learning and teaching. Because of it, many learners find it burdensome to learn English. In formal schools, many learners think that English is the most difficult subject, even more difficult than mathematics, physics, economics, etc. In the absence of clue to the issue, complaints on how English is learned and taught as well as the large amount of time allotted for English subject emerged and mounted up.

The idea that English is the most difficult language of all languages and very much different from Bahasa Indonesia bringing about conflicting conception on which of grammar free or strict grammar approaches is better in learning and teaching English may also be blamed for why many English learners find English instruction burdensome. …

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