What skill does Australia need Competency in amore of its citizens to have? foreign language.How much study does it take Usually, school plus severalfor a person to achieve years of university including in-marketable language skills? country study.Which Australians are most Those who have enjoyed andlikely to take up university succeeded at their schoollanguage study? language study.Which Australians are most Those who have studied alikely to have enjoyed and language where satisfactorysucceeded at their school progress can be made, and whichlanguage study? has allowed them to develop a fascination with its culture. Which language fills these criteria AND is the Bahasa Indonesia! language of our nearest neighbour?
Indonesian: a SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • the language of our nearest • there can be difficulty in attracting neighbour (especially WA), with whom good Indonesian teachers (the closure our future is inextricably linked, and of many courses at schools and the world’s 3rd largest democracy universities has led to people entering other fields) • Australia already has strong links with Indonesia in a range of fields (e.g. • there are negative perceptions about trade, education, military, policing, aid Indonesia in the community such as ) fear and prejudice related to Islam and terrorism • Indonesian or Malay are spoken by about 280 million people in • there is in the community a general Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and ignorance of Indonesia, its history and Singapore culture and its importance to Australia • directly related to Asia focus of • some schools have a difficulty with Australian curriculum so opportunity the Travel Advisory at level 4 and do for development of knowledge of not allow school trips to Indonesia Indonesia
Indonesian: a SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • uses the Western alphabet and has a lot of cognate words with English • uncomplicated grammar (compared to European languages), making spoken and written competency relatively quick to attain • has a high level of phonemic correlation with English, so can be useful for students with literacy difficulties in English. • Year 10-12 students can develop sufficient communicative competence to use Indonesian in interpersonal interactions
Indonesian: a SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • authentic texts that can fascinate and engage students are relatively understandable for school students (e.g. websites, songs, magazines) • exchange programs are easy and inexpensive to organise • likelihood of success in learning Indonesian makes students more likely to continue or take up a language at university or beyond • Australians will almost certainly meet opportunities to use Indonesian in their work or their recreational/holiday activities
So why is Indonesian in such a precarious state in our schools?Why are so many school administrators continuing to make suchdamaging decisions, such as closing Indonesian courses?Because they are basing their decisions NOT on what is educationallysound (e.g. likelihood of student success, accessibility oflanguage, proximity of target country, pre-existing relationships withtarget country) but on criteria irrelevant to educational value, such asstudent numbers, community perceptions, and economic arguments. Could it be that many school administrators actually DON’T KNOW about the educational importance of learning languages, and the advantages of Indonesian in particular? If so, what implications does this have for OUR role?
Dr Jane Orton, on Chinese (paraphrased): it is the first timein Australia’s history that we have had to confront thenecessity of learning a foreign language for our economicsurvival.The Chinese giant has made Australia sit up and take notice.However, for decades we have known an even morecompelling argument exists much closer to us – a fast-developing and populous neighbour with longstanding tieswith Australia that are not only economic, but alsocultural, social and humanitarian.
Indonesian: a SWOT analysis Opportunities Threats • teaching Indonesian language • school administrators may make provides significant opportunity to decisions about Indonesian based on unpack and address negative attitudes rationales OTHER than its great towards Indonesia and especially Islam educational value, e.g. student elective numbers, perceptions that Indonesian • there is tremendous opportunity for is not popular, perceptions that good students to discover and be fascinated teachers are hard to find, etc. by the vibrancy and dynamism of Indonesia. When this fascination is • if teachers of Indonesian are not pro- nurtured by effective and motivational active in implementing innovative teaching methods it will overcome teaching methods and materials negative student perceptions “from designed to fascinate students, they the inside” run the risk of failing to turn negative perceptions around
Language 2: another SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses uses the same alphabet as English its pronunciation is challenging and has many cognates, so and its grammar complicated, reading is enhanced making spoken and written competency slow to attain this country and its culture are perceived as distinguished and lack of phonemic correlation sophisticated, making it attractive makes speaking, listening and regardless of economic benefits writing more difficult than with a phonetic language this language is the lingua franca in many countries across the most Australians are unlikely to globe with up to 115 million have an opportunity to use this native speakers language in their work or everyday lives Year 12 students can develop sufficient communicative competence to use this language in interpersonal interactions
Language 2: another SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses authentic texts that can fascinate exchange programs are relatively and engage students are relatively expensive understandable for school students (e.g. the economic argument for magazines, songs, websites) languages does not work with this language likelihood of success in learning this language makes students This language is no longer the more likely to continue or take up international language it once a language at university or was – the EU now uses English beyond
Language 3: yet another SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • the language of our biggest trading • time taken to learn it well is nearly partner, with whom our future is 4 times that of French and more than inextricably linked twice that of Indonesian • spoken by the largest number of • very few non-heritage Year 12 native speakers in the world students develop sufficient communi- cative competence to use this • directly related to Asia focus of language in interpersonal interactions Australian curriculum so opportunity for development of some knowledge • while fluency in speaking and of communities in Asia who speak this reading are attainable by non- language heritage speakers in the long run (including tertiary study and • uncomplicated grammar (compared substantial time in-country), fluency e.g. to French) in writing is almost impossible to attain
Language 3: yet another SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • a few non-heritage Australians will • time required to learn the language develop significant competency and reduces time that can be spent will have opportunities to use this acquiring knowledge of history and language in their work society and engaging with materials that can fascinate and engage students • authentic texts that would give students insights into contemporary society are difficult for school students to understand and most teachers choose not to use them • there is no standardised script used across the countries where this language is spoken
Language 3: yet another SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • is often introduced based on an economic rationale but this is not the only, or the best, rationale for language learning at school • non-heritage learners are at a significant disadvantage in WACE exams because they are statistically moderated alongside heritage learners and almost inevitably scaled down substantially • those who continue to study this language at university are overwhelmingly heritage speakers
Language 3: yet another SWOT analysis Strengths Weaknesses • does not have cognates with English, therefore learners’ innate language awareness skills are less useful • teachers with appropriate skills are very hard to find – those educated in Australia often lack language skills, and those educated in their native countries often lack appropriate teaching techniques for Australian students • non-heritage students in mixed classes with heritage speakers can become discouraged by their lack of progress
So … what to do in your school?1. Try your hardest to ensure your students enjoy their learning, know they are succeeding, feel good about their learning and develop a fascination with Indonesia. You have the power - get ‘em by stealth! THIS IS BY FAR YOUR MOST EFFECTIVE STRATEGY IN MAKING INDONESIAN SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR SCHOOL.2. Be ready and prepared to assist your school admin to understand the educational value of Indonesian by providing the clear FACTS where necessary. 3. Support your program by authentic experiences, e.g. visits by exchange students, hands-on educational incursions/excursions (kids will remember cooking or talking to Indonesian peers, e.g. far longer than watching a performance or listening to a speaker)