Problems in Teaching English as Foreign Language in Indonesia

Posted: August 8, 2011 in Task 3

English has been considered to be the first foreign language in Indonesia. It functions to help the development of the state and nation, to build relations with other nations, and to run foreign policy including as a language used for wider communication in international forum. In relation to that Indonesia has been carrying out teaching EFL in almost level of schools, starting to be taught in basic primary school until secondary school. However, since it is only a foreign language, there are a lot of problems found in the English language learning.

To begin with, lack of learner motivation is believed as one of the primary problems of English language learning. It may be because of students’ perceptions toward English. Due to the nature of the language that is hardly found in Bahasa Indonesia, many of them take it as a difficult lesson to learn. As a result, they skip class, and when they attend the class, it is not because they want to learn English but likely because they fear of failure. Moreover, lots of them may lack of attention during class, chatting with classmates, doodling in their note books or gasp in their textbooks.

Next, insufficient time is another problem in teaching English. The class-time is often very short; it is once or twice a week, one or two hours daily for lots of subject matters to teach. Therefore, the lesson plan is not developed as programmed was and next class is often a review of the last unfinished teaching-learning process. If this situation happens constantly, the teacher will fail to reach the objectives that have been set before. To make it worse, they also will be unsuccessful to recognize the problems there are in the students learning process. They consequently cannot solve them because it is difficult to distinguish a specific learner with a specific learning problem in very limited time.

Furthermore, inadequate resources and materials also bring complexity in English language teaching. Resources and materials here refer to a wide range of objects that can be used for teaching such as models, cards, computers, sound labs, and so on. They play important role during teaching-learning process, for they represent elements in the real world, meant to help students understand and explain reality. In other words, they are helpful to change something complex to be simple. For example, when the teacher want to teach about animals, it will be rather difficult to have the students understand what is like only by words, so it needs sources and materials. Thus, if the teachers provide little resources and materials, it will make English become much more complicated to the learners.

The last problem encountered in English language teaching is over-crowded English classes. The number of learners in a typical class room can range from one to fifteen or twenty learners. In Indonesia, however, a teacher can find more than thirty students in a very small classroom without a tape recorder, television, posters, DVD, or sometimes without markers neither board. It is surely will be difficult for teachers to carry out activities where students can improve their communicative skills because it is not possible to personalize teaching, and as consequence not good results are shown every day.

In summary, lack of motivation, poor scheduled time, not enough resources and materials, and the excess of students in each classroom are undoubtedly some of the problems that teachers have to face in teaching English as a foreign language. To overcome these problems is actually the responsability of the educational system. However, the teachers also have to use their creativity to be aware of the limitations and constraints, and collectively make an effort to address and find ways to deal with the frustration these problems bring about.


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