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Teaching English a "Menace to Society"?

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Winston Smith's picture
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I read a very interesting article today about the spread of English in Indonesia, and what that means for Bahasa Indonesia, the local language.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/26/world/asia/26indo.html?src=me&ref=homepage

This might be a stretch... but it almost seems as though TEFL teachers working in Indonesia might be indirectly detrimental to the fabric of Indonesian society. That by teaching English - albeit to willing recipients - they are reducing the prevalence of a language which has served as the glue which unites this archipelago of diverse and disparate groups of people.  What do you think?

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Glue

If the language is the glue that holds the nation together, its not working, and nor should it be considered to be a lynch-pin. Languages continually change and develop. There are less people using English as a first language as there are people using it as a second. Anyway, the amount of English speakers pales in comparison to Mandarin. I agree with Teaching English being a menace to Indonesian society. There were two drunk English speakers in the pub last night, and they were teaching the locals foul words...passively of course.

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Passively? Like "She was

Passively? Like "She was bonked by him last night"? Seems a bit odd.

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Very passively....but more like

They were shouted at by drunkards all night, and a little bit into the morning. They were very quiet as well, possibly. I couldn't here what they were saying over my own din. Not that I would have understood anyway. I was too busy extolling the virtues of a North Eastern upbringing. When I thought of one. I do believe I said I was very proud of Paul Gasgoine at one point. I let you be the judge, or I will be judged by you. Cheers

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Those crazy Malaysians

Not relevant, but just found out that Malaysia has finally cottoned on to there being a devil on Man Utd's shirts and has banned them.

Haha!

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Not relevant

timedesign wrote:
Not relevant,

That is correct. To preserve the integrity of this thread, please consider starting your own. Your comment is worthy of its own separate discussion.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Whoooooops! Sorry Bernard. By

Whoooooops! Sorry Bernard. By the way for breakfast this morning I had marmalade on toast and while listening to Bowie's 'Low' album. I think it's a jolly nice way to start the day. What do you think?

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It's really quite tragic when

It's really quite tragic when one reads about people in other countries being so obsessed with Western culture that they consider their own culture to be second-class or somehow inferior. I suppose that if these English teachers are encouraging that sort of thought or otherwise importing cultural imperialism, then they could be seen to be contributing to the demise of their host culture.

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ghosts

Bernard wrote:
It's really quite tragic when one reads about people in other countries being so obsessed with Western culture that they consider their own culture to be second-class or somehow inferior. I suppose that if these English teachers are encouraging that sort of thought or otherwise importing cultural imperialism, then they could be seen to be contributing to the demise of their host culture.

What if I tell them ghosts don't really exist and that doctors don't possess magical powers?

Anyway, I thought there was a consensus that leftist liberalism occupied the realm of 'universal truth' and as such it was our sworn duty as westerners to spread the word and bring people round to our way of thinking. If everyone speaks the same language it should prove much easier to coerce people into doing the right thing. On the other hand maybe all the teachers should just go home.

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Take Cover: A Serious Point

Ugh, ok. Serious point. The Indonesians are an intelligent bunch of people, they can choose which language thay wish to learn and they don't need western hand wringing on this issue.
The 21st century, for better or worse, often requires a knowledge of English, just like maths or science.
Indonesians don't consider their culture inferior. They are just learning a useful tool, like driving a car. An American who can speak French doesn't automatically consider France superior. Teachers here are not importing cultural imperialism, they are teaching a language. Thats all it is, a language.

Phlegm (not verified)
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Inferior

timedesign wrote:
Indonesians don't consider their culture inferior. They are just learning a useful tool, like driving a car. An American who can speak French doesn't automatically consider France superior. Teachers here are not importing cultural imperialism, they are teaching a language. Thats all it is, a language.

Ya but in the article mentioned, if you read it, it suggests that indonesians do consider their language inferior, that is the whole controversy. Some are proud that their children speak Indonesian language poorly. "English is better than Indonesian" is a popular feeling

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Language differences.

Is the reason that Indonesian's see their language as inferior due to

A, the fact that it is a limited language in terms of expression, and

B, the fact that it is only used in 2 countries? 

Could this have came about because to provide a national language there was, in essence a dumbing down of the understanding of previous languages which were much richer and  more expressive?

I personally think that the Indonesian language has a much smaller link to culture here than say, Sundanese.  A language that has provided a good chunk of the language, is steeped in history, and was historically the easiest languages to express humour, and many other emotions in.  Sundanese is a lot more complicated than Indonesian, and those that were able to master the highest levels of the language were looked at in respect.  Nowadays respect is bought, and as a consequence Capitalist nations and all the trappings are in high demand. Certainly in Indonesia at the moment, and probably for the foreseeable future.

Another fact that may need to considered is that this article really only has the opinion of a teacher, and a load of Journalists, along with a theory that the Governement are going to ensure that Indonesian is taught in all private sholls.  I wouldn't hold your breath over tthis last fact, if I were you.

Van (not verified)
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Every culture needs a

Every culture needs a superior language for the rich people to speak and feel superior about. For most former colonies this is the mother tongue of the colonizing country, but dutch isn't filling that need in indonesia, so along comes english.