Challenges in Providing Trainings for English Teachers of Elementary Schools

Primary English provision in Indonesia has started in 1994 in which English has the position as the local content subject in the elementary schools. English has then been part of the Indonesian elementary schoolchildren’s daily routines in many different ways. In the major cities, which are geographically then educationally more privileged, the children might enjoy their English lessons because they have the qualified teachers who know English and how to teach it to young learners, they have appropriate and interesting materials as well as appropriate techniques to learn by. The case is quite different for the children of the less privileged areas where access to qualified teachers, appropriate materials and fun learning is almost impossible.

These children have to be content with teachers with no English or child teaching background who are hired because it is only them who are available. The teaching of English to children has the biggest problem from the aspect of its human resources. Pre- service trainings for teachers of English for young learners so far has not been included in the system of teacher education in Indonesia.

If there are English teachers qualified for teaching children, obviously this is only the side effect of some trainings in the universities which mainly produce teachers for Junior and Senior high schools. After 14 years, the primary English in Indonesia is still not taken seriously due to its position in the curriculum, but it needs to be considered that the inappropriate teaching can endanger the further learning in the higher levels when English is a compulsory subject. Therefore, the policy of primary English provision should also take account of how this will be implemented considering that specialists for doing the job are not available or produced. With all challenges and constraints, the English education department of the Yogyakarta State University has seen the need to provide English teachers for young learners. In 1994 as English was firstly introduced to the elementary schools, the department developed the optional packages of English for children consisting 16 credits in its curriculum, though it was already realized that there were obstacles.

English for young learners was a new venture for the department which had only been dealing with English teaching for teenagers, adolescents and adults. There were not many lecturers who would take the teaching of English to young learners for their professional development which means that we could not have some lecturers to train the students. We could only get three lecturers interested, because others’ choices of expertise were translation, evaluation, research, linguistics or Adult ELT. Another obstacle was access to the relevant literature, since TEYL then was not as popular as it is today. There is also an obstacle which is beyond our capacity. The teacher recruitment by the government so far has no scheme for English teachers.

Name : Nury Supriyanti

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