Teachers Perceptions About the Importance of English for Young Learners

Today, ASEAN Economic Community has been implemented, where all ASEAN countries have to compete each other in order to be not isolated. Facing this condition, the countries have some challenges to be solved. According to Ardayati (2016:6), how the students have a good ability of speaking English is one of the challenges for the countries to face the ASEAN Economic Community. Actually, the Indonesian government has realized that English is important for the country’s development, especially in the effort of human resource development. Therefore, as a policy, the government has published Law Regulation No. 20 in 2003 about National Education System and Government Regulation No. 19 in 2005 about Standard of National Education. These policies are used as the guideline for all education components in conducting the Indonesian education system.

Decentralization of education in Indonesia has encouraged the local governments to make their own decisions relative to some portion of curricular space in the use of some learning hours that has become known as “local content” (Musthafa 2010:1). As result of this decentralized decision-making, since last decade, public interest in English for Young Learners (EYL) has become enhanced. This is evidenced in increasing the number of district and city governments all over the country which offer English classes at the elementary school level. The students of Elementary School include young age children who are able to learn a new language easier. According to Suyanto (2008:15), Indonesian young learners are elementary schools students between 6 to 12 years old children. They are divided into two groups, younger group (6 to 8 years old) and older group (9 to 12 years old). Whereas, based on level, they are called Lower Classes, the students of grade 1, 2 and 3 and Upper Classes, the students of grade 4, 5 and 6. Morrow (2011:7) states that learning English in elementary schools may offer children a number of possible advantages if the instructional goals and methods are appropriate for the learners’ ages. According to Brown (2007:24), there are five categories may help give some practical approaches for teaching children. They are intellectual development, attention span, sensory input, affective factors, and authentic, meaningful language. Therefore, to attain the goals of teaching and learning process, the young learners should be taught by a good teacher with the appropriate methods. The teacher–student relationship is one of the most powerful elements within the learning environment (Liberante, 2012:1).

The teachers are the second parent for their students; they know what the students’ need, especially in the school environment. For example, the teachers understand what the students need in the classroom activity, included a good subject which should be learned by the students. Many teachers of elementary school in Indonesia consider that English is important for young learners; they agree that English is useful for the future of children. According to Read (2003:4), there are some reasons for starting language learning early. These includes, the value of increased time, the possibility of better pronunciation and fluency, the possibility of greater global awareness and intercultural competence, and the value of bilingualism. In the Elementary Schools of Lubuklinggau, English is an additional subject. English is learned as supporting subject for the students to develop their creativity, especially in language learning. According to Novtarina, Ningsih, and Anisa, the English teachers of Elementary Schools in Lubuklinggau Timur 1, English is important for young learners. They agree that there are many benefits for young learners to learn English early.

One of the benefits is the students will have the basic of English learning that will be useful when they face English subject as compulsory subject in Junior and Senior High School. Teachers’ perception about the importance of English for young learners in elementary school is important thing for supporting the process of teaching and learning. The teachers who know that English is important for young learners will realize to teach more enthusiasm and try to be a good teacher for their students. It impacts to the increasing of teaching and learning process, finally upgrades the national education system. Actually, the research about the importance of English for young learners has been conducted by some researchers. For example, Damar, Gursoy & Korkmaz, (2013). The result of their research showed that EFL teacher trainers prefer language education to start at the first stage of primary school and even earlier during pre-school, which are in line with the recent changes in the curriculum. In addition, Supriyanti (2012) conducted her research about why the children need to learn English at Elementary Schools.

The result of the research showed that there were several reasons why the children need to learn English in Elementary Schools. The reasons were the widespread assumption that the children are better than adults in learning a new language, the fact that economic globalization has pushed the demand of English in the form of workforce who speak English, and the parents’ enthusiasm for their children to learn English early in order to have social and economical benefits. The emergency of this research was to know about teacher perception about English for young learner curricullum about “ English is a local content.” Concerning to the facts and the reasons above, the researcher was interested in doing a research entitled “Teachers’ Perceptions about the Importance of English for Young Learners at Elementary Schools in Lubuklinggau Timur 1”.

Name : Ayu Oktaviani, Asahi Fauzan

Source : https://media.neliti.com/media/publications/256371-teachers-perceptions-about-the-importanc-00331629.pdf