Teaching English in Indonesia is challenging, because there are many problems found in teaching English as a foreign language. There are many things that need to be solved by the government and also by the teacher to make English teaching become more effective. This essay will talk about the problems in teaching English in Indonesian context, and try to bring the ecological perspectives that should be considered by government in designing and making policies relates to English teaching. There are 3 problems that will be discussed in this essay. The first problem is about the commercialization of education in Indonesia. The second problem is about the English teacher’s competence in Indonesia. The third problem as the main problem is about the curriculum in Indonesia that keeps changing and influences the teaching in classroom. The essay will also talk about the ecological perspectives approach that can be the solution for the problems.
Teaching English has become a business in Indonesia. This problem might be a classic problem which happens not only in English Language Teaching (ELT) field, but also happens in every line of education in Indonesia. Yardi (2004) stated that the expensive fee of education in Indonesia is still so far from a good quality, and the industrialization and commercialization in Indonesia do happen. In ELT, this problem relates to the supply of teaching aids as the media. Technology, dictionary, books, and other teaching aids have become a very promising industry, because more and more people realize about the importance of learning English in this globalization era. Those who have power to make policy in education do not consider students’ need as the main reason for choosing certain teaching aids, but the reasons focus to the profit that will be got by certain parties. Choosing the teaching aids that appropriate for students is not an easy matter, because there are several factors relate to students’ need and background before choosing the teaching aids. However, teaching aids that supposed to be useful for students to learn and acquire language cannot help students any longer. Choosing appropriate teaching aids is important, because teaching aids have positive impact and influence on students’ behavior and academic progress (Wahdan, 2010).
Teacher as one of the information sources of the students supposed to have a good understanding and comprehension relate to the topic and subject that they teach. The research conducted by Lie (2007) found that the teachers in Indonesia are not active users of English and do not feel confident enough to speak in English. Ideally, English teachers need to have a good ability in using English in writing, reading, listening and also in speaking as one of the characters of good English teacher. Besides, it is also important for English teacher to have the knowledge about the teaching methods and approaches in teaching English. Using the appropriate methods and approaches in teaching English is important, thus it is essential for the teacher to have a deep insight and knowledge about the methods and approach in teaching English.
The last problem is about the curriculum that keeps changing in Indonesia. The change of curriculum has also influenced the approaches of teaching English. Marcellino (2008) assumed that the English curriculum since 1975 in Indonesia have not brought any significant and substantial impact in ELT classroom. Since 1945, Indonesia has changed its English curriculum six times with three different approaches. In 1945, the curriculum used a grammar translation approach; in 1968 and in 1975, the oral-approach curriculum used audio lingual approach; in 1984, communicative curriculum used communicative approach; in 1994, meaning-based curriculum used communicative approach; the latest change in 2004, competency-based curriculum still uses communicative approach (Lie, 2007). The changes ideally will bring to betterment, however it does not happen in Indonesia.
Government as the policy maker actually has many factors to be considered before making policies. Those problems mentioned above actually can be solved if the government considers the ecological factors in making and designing the policy. In ecological perspectives, the learning process will have the different insight and current of thoughts (Tudor, 1996). Ecological perspectives have invite people to see and consider many factors in education. Students’ learning style, individual differences, and sociocultural background are some of the factors in ecological perspectives. The current education policies in Indonesia do not give freedom for teachers to adjust their learning with the students’ needs. The author has the experience and found in a school that the English teachers in that school are demanded to follow the curriculum where actually the curriculum is not appropriate with the student’ condition and proficiency. This demand has slowly kill teacher’s creativity and force students to follow the curriculum no matter what happens.
The author argues that teacher should always follow the curriculum. It is important to follow curriculum in certain situation and for some degree, but it is also necessary to adjust the curriculum when it’s necessary. Learning styles as one of the factors in ecological perspectives mentioned that everyone can learn in different ways (Bostrom, 2011). Kolb (as cited from Robertson et al, 2011) explained that learning style is the students’ preference and strategies that are consistently adopted by students to learn, in order to process new information. Learning styles have strong relation with students’ comprehension towards the material, because the students can learn easier and faster if they can use their preferred style. Thus being aware of students’ learning styles is important for teacher and students, because it can help students to know their strength, acknowledge their weakness, and learn more efficiently (Provident et. al, 2009; Rogers, 2009). Sociocultural that relates to the social context where students demanded to know the goal of using language, the target of using language and the social factors around them. Sperling (as cited by Weigle, 2009) stated that language is a meaning-making activity which socially and culturally shaped and has the purpose for individual and also for social. Thus, bring the real context for the social life is essential and important in ELT.
Ecological perspectives emphasize in seeing and considering the various participants and factors involves in English language teaching. It can be the solution for three problems that mentioned above if the government considers ecological perspectives in designing and making policies. Commercialization in education will be decreased if the government makes the policies that every teaching aids will be provided by government based on students’ needs. Teacher’s competence can be developed well if the government designs the training to train teachers with the focus to meet students’ needs on ecological perspectives. The curriculum used will be appropriate if the government gives more freedom for teacher to adjust and designs their lessons based on the ecological perspectives such as students’ learning styles, students’ individual preference and students’ sociocultural background.
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